For many, sandboxes are a traditional part of childhood activities. However, a sandbox that is filled with bugs is anything but fun. Bugs and pests aren't only gross, unwelcome guests in a sandbox or playground setting, but when they come in to contact with children, they can bite kids and scare them. Some parents have even opted to forego sandbox play entirely over concerns about infestation. However, by following these simple steps, pests should stay away from your sandbox and the area can once again be a safe place for play.
Step 1 - Remove the Infested Sand
The first thing that you need to do is check to see if you have an infestation in your current sand. If your sandbox is already infested with bugs, you need to remove the sand and dispose of it. It's easier to start with new sand than try to sift through infested sand.
Sand is inexpensive and can be purchased at most home supply stores. When purchasing sand, select a type that is sanitized and made for children’s play. This is slightly more expensive than untreated sand, but it will not attract or house bugs like natural sand. If you're already spending money specifically to try and solve a pest problem, don't cut this corner to save a buck, otherwise you'll be right back where you started soon enough.
Step 2 - Prepare the Box
Before adding sand to the box, the area needs to be prepared. You should thoroughly spray the area with an insecticide and cover it for at least two days before adding sand. This will kill any leftover bugs or eggs.
After two days, the container should to be cleaned with warm water and dish soap. Clean all surfaces that will be exposed to children so that no insecticide remains. Rinse the box and let it dry. The box will now be pest-free and safe for children to play in.
Step 3 - Line the Bottom
The bottom of the sandbox should be lined with either plastic or landscaping fabric. If using plastic, be sure to poke holes into the plastic so that water can drain as needed. This covering will help prevent insects from getting into the box from the ground.
Step 4 - Protect the Perimeter
Use a non-toxic bug repellent around the sandbox. This can be purchased at most home and garden stores. It should also be easy to spread and keep bugs from getting close to the sandbox.
Step 5 - Add Sand
The box is now ready for sand. Pour the new sand into the box.
Step 6 - Add Cinnamon
Mix a container of cinnamon in with the sand. Most bugs do not like cinnamon and will avoid the sandbox. This will help to repel any bugs that get past the perimeter. Also, it will not hurt any children playing in the sandbox.
Step 7 - Cover the Sandbox
Always use a sandbox cover when children are not playing in the area. This will keep many bugs out of the sand.
If the sandbox does not have a cover, it is still fairly easy to make one. A cover can be made with a tarp that is secured to the sandbox using elastic straps. It is also possible to make a wood covering. Sandbox coverings are also sold in many stores.
Step 8 - Keep Food Away
Do not allow children to bring food into the sandbox. Even small crumbs from snacks will attract insects to the sandbox, particularly flying insects that are not deterred by the ground-level insect barrier.
Step 9 - Clean Regularly
Clean the sand regularly by sifting out any plant debris. Organic material such as grass, leaves, and twigs attract insects. By removing these items on a regular basis, insects will not be attracted to the sandbox.