Summertime is upon us. A time for barbecues and pool parties. Getting outdoors and heading to the park or the lake. You pack a picnic lunch and head into the great outdoors. But wait, what’s that? Is it a bird? A plane? You hear the familiar buzzing sound and you know it can only be one of humankind’s most formidable foes. The mighty mosquito!
Female mosquitos bite animals and humans to obtain a drink of blood. They need protein and iron from the blood to produce eggs. Once they’ve acquired a blood sample, they search for a pool of standing water to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch and become adult mosquitos within about a week.
Mosquito bites can range from annoying to deadly. Most people bitten by a mosquito will experience itchy bumps that will go away after a day or two (if you can keep from scratching them). Some may experience allergic reactions leading to blisters, hives, or in rare cases, anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction that affects the whole body and requires immediate medical attention. Some mosquitoes can also carry and transmit dangerous viruses such as the West Nile Virus, or a variety of viral encephalitis and meningitis diseases. Wearing a mask and social distancing won’t protect you from these viruses.
Mosquitoes are active day and night, though many species common to the U.S. are most active at night, dusk or dawn. They live indoors and outdoors, and search for warm places when temperatures begin to drop. Some types of mosquitoes will hibernate in enclosed spaces. They can be found any time of the year that temperatures are warm enough but are most prevalent in the warmer summer and early fall months.
Staying indoors is the easiest way to prevent mosquito bites during the warmer months, but don’t let mosquitoes ruin your outdoor fun this summer. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself when you go outdoors:
- Use an insect repellant. When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients:
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
- Cover up. Wear light colored, loose fitting, long sleeved clothes. In addition to keeping mosquitoes away from exposed skin, this will also keep you cooler and protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Protect Your Home
In addition to personal protection when you go outdoors, there are things you can do to make your home and yard a mosquito-free oasis.
- Get rid of standing water. Regularly look around your yard and home and drain or turn over any objects or areas that might contain stagnant water. The water could be in flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, or birdbaths.
- Treat your yard with repellant. There are a variety of effective sprays or granules you can use to treat your yard. Consult a professional and read the labels carefully, especially if you have children or pets.
- Keep mosquitoes outside. Use air conditioning, or window and door screens.