Mosquito and tick populations are on the rise again as the country transitions into the summer season. While these pests are certainly nuisances, they can also transmit harmful diseases such as Zika virus, West Nile virus and Lyme disease.
Protection from Mosquitoes
One of the best ways to fight off mosquito bites and subsequent disease transmission is to apply insect repellent before going outside. Yet, many people don’t make it a priority to protect against these biting pests. And those who do may not realize that there is a correct way to use repellent in order for it to be effective.
To properly apply insect repellent for maximum protection against mosquitoes and ticks, follow this five-step method from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA):
- Look for a product containing an active EPA-registered ingredient, such as DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon-eucalyptus or IR3535.
- Read the product label and follow the instructions carefully. If sunscreen is also being worn, repellent should be used over top of sunscreen.
- Shake the product well. Then, hold it about 6-8 inches away from exposed skin and spray evenly in a sweeping motion.
- Spray the palms of hands to apply the repellent to the face and ears, being sure to avoid eye and nostril contact.
- Apply the repellent over clothing, which should completely cover feet and ankles.
Pets can also be susceptible to mosquito bites. Limit your pet’s time outdoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Also, consider asking your vet about pet safe repellents to use.
Another great way to avoid contact with mosquitoes is to remove any standing water around the yard to deter mosquito breeding.
Protection from Ticks
Mosquitoes aren’t the only pests you have to protect yourself from when spending time outdoors in the Summer. Ticks can be easy to miss if you don’t follow proper precautions. Use these tips to avoid being bitten:
- Choose proper clothing when spending time in wooded areas or tall grass. Choose long sleeved shirts, pants and closed toe shoes. Light clothing makes it easier to spot ticks.
- To keep ticks out of your yard, keep grass cut low and remove weeds, woodpiles and debris, which can attract ticks and other pests. Keep shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation well pruned, particularly around patios and play areas.
- Wear a bug spray containing at least 20% DEET when spending time outdoors.
- When hiking, stay away from the edges of trails and high vegetation, where ticks are more likely to live.
Humans aren’t the only ones who have to worry about being bitten. According to a new tick survey from the NPMA, only 35 percent of respondents ensure pets have preventative tick treatments. In addition to tick collars and preventative medications, follow these tips to protect your furry friends:
- Inspect dogs and cats thoroughly when bringing them indoors.
- If a tick is found attached, it should be removed with a slow, steady pull so as not to break off the mouthparts and leave them in the skin. If possible, it’s best to use forceps or tweezers and grab on or just behind the mouthparts. If using fingers, the fingernails of the thumb and forefinger should be placed on or just behind the mouthparts. Once removed, flush the tick down the toilet or wrap it tightly in tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle since ticks are difficult to smush. Then, wash hands and the attachment site thoroughly with soap and water.
- Keep grass cut low, especially in the areas that your pets frequent.
Don’t let these pests distract you from enjoying the summer weather. Follow the tips above to protect yourself and your pets.