Are you prepared for a buggy summer?
These tips will help you keep ticks, mosquitoes and other bugs away.
This year's unusually warm winter and wet spring means you can expect it to be a pretty buggy summer in most places around the United States. In fact, thanks to climate change, dealing with lots of bugs may become the new normal.
Biting insects such as ticks and mosquitoes are not only bothersome, but they can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Zika and Powassan. Stinging insects like bees and wasps may just be a nuisance or can cause you pain. Stings can also lead to severe allergic reactions.
So what can you do to protect yourself from ticks, mosquitoes, bees and wasps? The best way to lower your risk of disease or discomfort is to avoid getting bitten or stung in the first place. Here are some tips that can help:
- Wear insect repellent. Apply insect repellant containing DEET, IR3535, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to exposed skin. Check any product you use for EPA approval on the label to make sure it's been tested for safety and effectiveness. You can also apply permethrin to clothing for added protection but don't apply insect repellent under your clothes.
- Dress appropriately when outdoors. If you're going to be in areas prone to ticks and mosquitoes, wear long sleeves, long pants, socks, closed-toe shoes and a hat. Tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants. Choose light colors to make it easier to spot bugs. Don't use perfume or scented soap, shampoo, deodorant or aftershave because bees, wasps and mosquitoes are attracted to the scent.
- Bug-proof your home. To keep mosquitoes away from your yard, get rid of areas where they like to breed. So keep gutters clean and remove areas of standing water, such as birdbaths, baby pools and wheelbarrows. When it comes to ticks, keep your grass mowed and clean up areas of leaves and other debris. Ticks also prefer shade, so try to let in as much sun as possible. If you have pets, check for ticks whenever they've been outside. To remove bee or wasp nests, call a professional or wait until nests are abandoned or insects are less active (early or late in the day).