September 13, 2022
Anybody who spends a lot of time outdoors knows that ticks and mosquitos are a real risk — especially during the summer months when they’re most active. Not only do these pesky insects cause itchy bites; they can also carry dangerous illnesses. Ticks are carriers of Lyme disease, and mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and Zika virus.
Whether you’re going for a hike through the woods or just sitting outdoors around dusk, there are a few steps you should take to protect yourself from ticks and mosquitos.
Insects need access to your skin to bite you, so if you’re going outside, wear long sleeves and pants. And cover up likely bite areas like the gap between the bottom of your pants and the top of your shoes.
You can also treat your clothing using permethrin, which will repel insects and offer an additional layer of protection. Your head or neck can also be areas subject to bites, so a hat and neck gaiter may help as well. Make sure to change and wash your clothes when you return indoors to eliminate any unwelcome guests who try to follow you home.
Insect repellent is very effective at stopping both ticks and mosquitos from biting unprotected areas. Look for bug sprays that are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contain DEET, OLE, PMD, Picaridin, IR3535, or 2-undecanone.
Very young children should avoid certain types of insect repellent, so make sure to check the label on any product you select for safety tips. The EPA also offers an online tool to find approved products.
One way to prevent mosquito bites is to limit their access to you. Check your screens for holes and repair any damaged spots you find. You should also take advantage of mosquito netting, burn citronella candles, and keep exterior doors closed to limit the opportunity for insects to enter your home.
Both mosquitos and ticks have preferred habitats. In the case of mosquitos, eliminate any standing water around your property. Look for stagnant water in buckets, outdoor toys, or rain gutters. Ticks love tall grasses and brushy areas, so keeping your green areas trimmed can help reduce opportunities for tick infestations.
If you can’t disrupt the habitat, avoid it. Walking in the center of trails, avoiding swampy areas, and staying out of tall grasses can reduce your chances of encountering these pests.
By the time you start itching from a mosquito bite, it’s too late to do anything about it. Ticks, however, stick around to feed for a while.
When you come in from being outdoors, make sure to check yourself, companions, and pets for ticks. If a tick has already begun to feed, it’s important to remove it right away, but with a prompt examination you may be able to prevent a bite altogether.
Mosquitos and ticks don’t have to ruin your outdoor fun. You can protect yourself from these pesky insects by being mindful of your surroundings and following the simple prevention tips outlined in this article.