Now more than ever we must take precautions to protect ourselves against ticks and mosquitoes. They may be small in stature, but the diseases they carry can pack a big punch. With ticks passing on Lyme disease and mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus (the first cases of locally acquired Zika are expected to hit the U.S mainland in 2016.), the common bug bite is no longer something to be shrugged off. There are several things you should be doing to protect yourself and your family this summer.
1. Keep exposed skin to a minimum
When going out into the woods, make sure that your pants are tucked into your socks and that your shirt is tucked into your pants. This will decrease the number of places that a mosquito can bite and will also reduce the number of entry points for ticks to get to your skin.
2. Wear light colors
Just like the sun, mosquitoes tend to be attracted to darker colors. Lighter colors will not only keep you cool but reduce the number of bug bites you receive. Also, dark-colored ticks will be easier to identify on your light-colored clothing.
3. Apply repellent to clothes and skin
Repellents are not just meant for exposed skin. They should be applied directly to your clothing. Make sure that you are using the repellent that is right for you by checking out this handy Consumer Reports comparison chart.
For Your Yard
1. Reduce breeding
By reducing the number of insects breeding near your home, you will be reducing the number you have to fight off later. Insects are drawn to murky water, so be sure to eliminate anything that could hold standing water. This includes bird baths, wheelbarrows and watering cans . The dark, damp conditions found in rotting leaf piles are also ideal for mosquito breeding. Make sure to keep your yard clear of debris and allow as much sun to hit it as possible. I also recommend keeping your grass short, as ticks tend to gravitate towards areas with long grass.
2. Use an oscillating fan
According to Consumer Reports, a simple oscillating fan can reduce mosquito landings by 45 to 60 percent. This is a great option in that it doesn’t use chemicals and can help to keep everyone cool at the same time.
3. Purchase candles, torches and foggers
I placed these preventative measures together because although they can be of some value, there are things you should be aware of when using these methods. Candles and torches are only mild deterrents and will not keep larger areas clear of these pests.
The insecticides in foggers will keep insects away, but these chemicals could lead to some serious health problems if they are inhaled. If you choose to take this risk, make sure that you protect your children and pets by having them stay out of the yard for at least a few hours.
Photo by turkletom