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Preventing Mosquito Bites
Back in the day, preventing mosquito bites was as simple as staying indoors around dusk and dawn when mosquitoes were active. Those days have changed. International trade and travel have brought in new species from other countries. The Asian tiger mosquito, in particular, is a persistent and aggressive daytime biter. We now have mosquitoes biting around the clock. It’s not feasible to suggest that you never go outside, so here are some suggestions to keep you safe from the ever-looming mosquito threat.
The simplest thing you can do is wear protective clothing. Wear light colored clothing (like white or beige) with long sleeves and pants. Mosquitoes, as well as many other bloodsucking insects, are attracted to dark shapes and silhouettes, so avoid wearing black, dark blue, or jungle camouflage. Be sure to wear socks and closed-toed shoes, since mosquitoes are not picky about where they get the blood from you. If you want to go all out, a hat with mosquito netting or flaps that protect your ears and neck will provide maximum protection. Tucking your pant legs into your socks will deny mosquitoes, fire ants, and ticks entry into the openings of your pant legs.
If you want to venture out into the world wearing short-sleeves, you also have the option of applying a repellent to your skin. Repellent, like sunscreen, may need to be reapplied throughout the day. There are combination products which contain both sunscreen and repellent, but when using these items separately, apply sunscreen first and repellent second.
I always recommend a repellent that has an EPA-registered active ingredient. These ingredients are DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and 2-undercanone. These ingredients have been tested by the EPA and are deemed safe and effective; the most commonly used repellents contain DEET. Natural products (without EPA-registered active ingredients) and devices that rely on sound to repel mosquitoes have questionable effectiveness. There are repellents made specifically for clothing and outdoor gear (permethrin). Repellents designed for clothing should not be applied to bare skin. Always read the label directions before applying a repellent. You’ll probably learn things you didn’t know!
While some mosquitoes are long-distance marathon fliers, most of the ones around your home are not flying in from very far. In fact, they are most likely breeding and emerging from somewhere on your property or your neighbor’s property. You may not be able to control your neighbor’s tire collection, but you can minimize mosquito breeding areas around your home quite easily. You should turn your attention to areas on your property where water pools after a rain. A mosquito can breed in a tablespoon of water, assuming that the water doesn’t evaporate before their life cycle is complete. Wading pools, pots, buckets, clogged roof gutters, old tires, and bird baths are ideal breeding grounds for several species of mosquitoes. You may want to turn over buckets to prevent them from filling up, recycle those tires, move your empty pots to the shed, and dump the wading pool on a weekly basis. Whatever you do, if you go outside to do these things, be sure to wear protective clothing or repellent. Many people agree that water should be dumped regularly, but most people don’t know that containers should also be scrubbed. Some mosquitoes, like the Asian tiger mosquito, will glue their eggs to the sides of containers at the water line. These eggs can remain dry for months to years, waiting for the moment when they get wet so they can hatch. Missing one week of water dumping may allow for a whole batch of mosquitoes to hatch around your home.
When you’re inside, you’re generally safe from mosquitoes, but remember that mosquitoes can come inside if you give them the opportunity. Avoid propping doors or leaving windows open unless they have a mesh screen to keep insects out. Check your window screens for tears and holes. Ideally, close all doors and windows and use air conditioning instead for an extra layer of protection. Don’t forget to check your pet doors. Invest in a quality pet door, as cheap pet door flaps rarely provide a tight seal. Not only can bugs get in, but cool air can get out and run up your electric bill.
For more information, check out this handy infographic!
If you’ve tried all these tips and still have mosquitoes, we can help. Contact us to learn more about our Mosquito Control services.