Mosquitoes can cause a lot more than red, itchy bumps: namely, malaria, Zika virus, Dengue fever, , yellow fever, and West Nile Virus, says , D.O., a global health expert with the New York Institute of Technology. The yellow fever mosquito, or Aedes aegypti, the species that carries these diseases, can be found as far north as Maine and as far south as Puerto Rico, Lardner explains. Keep reading for tips on how to keep these flying menaces far, far away.
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When it comes to insect repellents designed for skin application, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) using an EPA-approved , , , or containing 20-30 percent DEET or 20 percent picaridin. Consumer Reports recently tested 16 repellents and found that are the most effective.
If you're planning for a day of hiking or fishing, use an insect repellent containing on clothing and gear ahead of time. (Never apply permethrin directly on skin). These types of sprays "have been shown to be effective against insect bites including ticks," says Dr. Lardner.
Joe Conlon, a technical advisor with the (AMCA), recommends wearing clothes that are pre-treated with permethrin, such as apparel. This is a good option for kids at summer camp, who may be too busy having fun to remember to reapply bug spray.
Send your favorite camping, outdoor, or workout gear to to get it professionally treated. Their Permethrin formula is odor-free, lasts 70 washes, and protects against mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, and more. Throw your clothes in their "easy packs" and they'll do all the work for you.
Whether you're setting out for a camping trip or staying somewhere with screens or unsealed cracks, sleeping under one of these is a good call.
Carry this portable and lightweight gizmo with you and get 15 feet of protection wherever you go.
If you're going to be slathering on sunblock and bug spray, apply them in that order. IAMAT recommends allowing the sunscreen to penetrate the skin for 20 minutes before using repellent, which can reduce the efficacy of sunscreen.
Yeah, we know it looks dorky but it's one of your best defenses against the potential disease-carrying insects. Jean Sniffin, RN, a community health nurse for Massachusetts-based , recommends wearing long-sleeved shirts, too.
A of commercial repellents found that (with 25 percent DEET) attracted just 6 percent of mosquitoes, while natural and organic solutions attracted between 9 and 57 percent. was the only effective DEET-free option.
Still water is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. "Remove leaves from gutters, where water can pool, and change bird bath water several times per week," says Sniffin. "Keep yard supplies like wheelbarrows and containers overturned when not in use." Uncovered rain barrels, vases, puddles, water tanks, and old tires are all inviting homes for mosquitoes.
This is one of those rare times when being nosy actually benefits everyone. "If a neighbor has standing water that has not been taken care of, consider contacting your local health department," says Will Sowards of travel health company . Depending on your county's resources, the health department may be able to treat stagnant water—in drainage ditches, retention ponds, and pools of abandoned and/or foreclosed houses—with insecticide at not cost to you.
Sniffin says it's important to repair any holes in window or door screens that mosquitoes could slip through.
The blood-sucking pests are most active just after sunrise and just before sunset, says Sniffin, who recommends people "schedule outdoor activities accordingly."
Trimmed trees and shrubs improve a property's air circulation, says Steve Farrelly, owner of Scarsdale, New York-based . The increased air flow "will physically push mosquitoes out of that area and remove the environment they thrive in," he explains.
"Residents who are uncomfortable using repellents with active chemicals on their bodies or feel natural remedies don't work should implement a larger defense against mosquitoes like a property treatment program," says Farrelly.
Basil, lavender, and catnip are all plants that mosquitoes can't stand, while other varieties, like lemon balm, are best crushed up and applied to skin for a natural insect repellant.
use CO2 and UV light to attract and catch biting insects, meaning they'll be too enamored with the blue glow to even think about making a meal out of you.
Just one of these electronic insect killers from Flowtron provides 1/2-acre of coverage.
Damien Sanchez, owner of , advises homeowners to use small, doughnut-shaped tablets that releases a bacteria that kills mosquito larvae. The bacteria is harmless to humans, plants, and animals, says Sanchez, making dunks a good solution for potentially infested areas such as fish ponds, bird baths, and rain barrels.
Hosting a summer cookout or graduation party this year? Offer guests relief from mosquitoes by setting up fans throughout your outdoor space. Any wind above one mile per hour makes it difficult for the bugs to fly around and prey on people, Jonathan Day, PhD, a mosquito expert at the University of Florida told . Be sure to aim fans at the lower half of your body and ground, where mosquitoes tend to fly. Or try a butane-powered mosquito repeller, like the ones from .
You may have heard that ingesting certain foods like garlic, vanilla, or apple cider vinegar can be helpful in preventing bites, but these home remedies won't provide thorough protection, Dr. Day also told .
Avoid wearing spandex and other light-weight, thin materials, which mosquitoes can bite right through, Stacey Rodriguez, , told . Instead, opt for tightly woven materials, which are more difficult for the bugs to penetrate. Clothing that provides UV protection is typically tightly woven and often protects against insect bites, too.