Preventing mosquito bites not only enhances your family's enjoyment of outdoor activities, but also protects you from exposure to West Nile virus and other diseases carried by mosquitoes. West Nile virus has been on the rise in many states over the last few years, and growing insect populations create higher-than-ever risks for disease. Taking mosquito protection steps is the best way to avoid exposure.
But the solution isn't staying indoors or wearing long pants and jackets all summer. You can actually prevent mosquito bites by creating a bite-free zone wherever you go to provide protection for you and your family. Following are tips for preventing mosquito bites so you can spend summer in the great outdoors.
Preventing mosquito bites
- Before you set up your patio or pitch your tent, clear the area of bugs with an outdoor fogger or mosquito repellent applied to your lawn. Just spray throughout the immediate area to create a protective perimeter around decks, patios and picnic areas.
- Try to avoid activities near standing or stagnant water. These areas are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects.
- Remove or drain anything around the area that can hold water such as bird baths, wheelbarrows, wading pools or plant containers.
- Clean and chlorinate pools, especially when leaving for vacation.
- Use citronella candles to add light to your outdoor dining area while keeping bugs at bay.
Repellents for mosquito protection
Mosquitoes find you by sensing the carbon dioxide, lactic acid and moisture your body gives off. Insect repellents prevent bites by masking these, making you basically invisible to the bugs. Today's insect repellent mosquito protection products offer new solutions that you can tailor to your specific situation. Gone are the overly greasy formulas and strong smells of the past. But you need to know what the right product is for your outdoor activities.
There are three main types of insect repellents available today for preventing mosquito bites. DEET, which has been around since the 1950s, offers long-lasting, effective, dependable protection. DEET-based products are ideal for outdoor sports, hiking, camping and hunting because they stand up to perspiration. The second option is a newer product called Picaridin, which prevents mosquito bites with odorless, effective protection and has a light, clean feel. A third, completely natural option is Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), a plant-based insect repellent. Derived from a renewable resource, OLE has a pleasant scent and has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for effective protection against mosquitoes that may carry the West Nile virus.
Here are additional recommendations from the experts for repelling mosquitoes and preventing mosquito bites:
- Use an EPA-registered personal insect repellent with DEET for the highest level of protection.
- When going outdoors with your children, make sure they're protected with a mosquito repellent specially formulated for their young, delicate skin.
- Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants when possible for additional protection.
- Try to avoid exposure during peak mosquito biting times, typically dusk and dawn.
- In sunny environments, use a combination product that has sunscreen and repellent.
- Make sure you cover all exposed skin with insect repellent. Even a quarter-sized gap is enough to let insects into your bite-free zone.
If mosquitoes are able to penetrate your perimeter and bite you, clean the affected area with soap and water to remove contaminated particles left behind. Refrain from scratching because this may cause the skin to break down and an infection to form. Treat itching at the site of the bite with an anti-itch cream or ointment, and over the next several days, watch for signs of infection such as increasing redness, swelling or pain. If any of these occur, get to a doctor for treatment.
With these simple tips for mosquito protection, you can prevent mosquito bites and enjoy a bite-free zone wherever you go in the great outdoors.