Avoid the Bite

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Warmer days are here. After such a long, cold winter, we are ready to get outside and enjoy nature. We can’t wait to go on a hike, hang out in the yard, sit around a campfire. We are happy to be out in shorts and sleeveless tops until the mosquitoes remind us that summer is not always a picnic.

The mosquito bite is more than just an annoying itch you have to worry about. In the US, almost 40,000 people were diagnosed with West Nile virus since 1999. Of those, there have been 1600 deaths and 17,000 serious illnesses. Suddenly, the mosquito bite is more than just something you deal with. It is something to do your best to avoid.

What can we do to prevent mosquito bites?

Avoid Mosquitoes

It sounds simplistic but avoid the peak hours if you can. Mosquitoes are most active during sunrise and sunset and in the early evening.

Cover Up

If you do plan to be outside, try to limit the amount of exposed skin you offer to the hungry mosquito. Wearing a long sleeve shirt, pants, socks and closed toe shoes while you are outside can help deter them. If you can, avoid wearing tight clothing which makes it easier for mosquitoes to bite through.

Wield the Wind

Mosquitoes are weak flyers. They are easily brushed away by the wind. You can use this to your advantage with a well-placed fan. You will stay cool and keep those little insects from landing on you.

Use Repellent

There are many different repellents that you can use when going into the great outdoors. Many of the commercial brands contain varying concentrations of DEET. While DEET is very effective in dissuading mosquitoes from biting you, the chemical carries its own risks. DEET is best used on the clothing and not your skin. If you are planning on hiking in the woods, DEET on all your clothing is probably the way to go. Try to use a repellent with no more than 15% DEET to avoid potentially dangerous side effects. Studies show that greater concentrations aren’t worth the higher risk of side effects. Children, seniors and anyone with a weakened immune system should avoid or use special caution with DEET.

There are also plant based repellents on the market that contain things such as Lemon Eucalyptus, Natrapel or Picaridin. Picaridin is a chemical similar to compounds found in black pepper. The risks when using these types of repellents is low. You should be careful using these on children under 3.

It is best to avoid products that are a sunscreen and bug repellent in one. Sunscreen needs to be applied more often than repellent. Follow the usage directions for your bug repellent carefully and only reapply when needed.

Remove Standing Water

One of the best ways to avoid mosquito bites is to remove their breeding grounds on your property. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. This means any standing water. The puddle at the end of the driveway, the open bucket on the porch, the little amount on the lid of the trash can. Take a tour of your yard and get rid of any standing water that you can. This could help reduce the mosquito population around your home.

Avoid Perfume

Scientists believe that mosquitoes are attracted by scent. They are attracted to strong scents. If you are wearing your favorite perfume, you may be attracting more attention than you want. Try to avoid wearing strong scents.

Plant a Garden

There are certain plants that will deter mosquitoes and might just save your alfresco dining. Lemon Balm, which is a member of the mint family, has a strong lemony aroma. This aroma is repellent to bugs. Other plants that deter mosquitoes: catnip, marigolds, lavender and peppermint. Citronella is another natural scent maker that is known to drive the bugs away. Try planting them around your patio or putting some planter boxes on the deck. Crush some leaves and rub them on your skin as a safer alternative to DEET.

 

Categories: Health & Fitness

Kiera Collins

Kiera is a writer, wife, mother, office manager, and home zoo keeper.

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