Beware of These Bugs in Your Homes and Outside

Summer’s insects can be more than annoying and some can make you sick. Ticks carry Lyme disease and mosquitoes spread serious illnesses such as malaria or West Nile virus. Mosquitoes alone spread malaria which is linked to more than 700,000 deaths a year. While few of those deaths occur in the U.S., several other tropical, mosquito-borne diseases are rampant in the U.S. such as dengue fever. It can cause high fever, severe joint pain, and a crippling arthritis.

So how do you keep the bugs from biting? Certain insect repellents, especially those with the chemical deet, can help keep mosquitoes and ticks away. But safety experts worry that the products might pose risks to people and the environment. Deet and other chemical-based repellents should be used only if other safer methods don’t work. People should first try safer ways of avoiding bugs, such as wearing protective clothing and avoiding scented products when outdoors.

For mosquitoes

  • Stay inside or in screened-in areas during mosquito hours. The bugs like to come out during sunrise and sunset, and in early evening.
  • Cover up. During mosquito heavy hours, put on long sleeves, long pants, socks, and closed-toe shoes.
  • Plug in a fan. It will help you keep cool and keep mosquitoes from landing on you when you’re outside on your deck or patio because the insects are not very efficient flyers, even in wind speeds of as low as 5 mph.
  • Buy outdoor LED or yellow bug lights. Use them on your porch and around your house because they won’t attract pests like other lights might.
  • Light citronella candles or tiki torches. These standbys work as mild insect repellents.
  • Keep mosquitoes from breeding in your yard. Dump out any water-filled containers, such as birdbaths, tires, wheelbarrows, and wading pools. Clear away decaying leaves and ivy on buildings and on the ground, because mosquitoes like cool, dark places to rest during the day.

For ticks

  • Wear light-colored clothes. They can help you spot ticks. Also stick with long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. Tuck your pants into socks, wear boots, and pull your hair back into a hat.
  • Check your clothes and skin for ticks when you get inside. They have to be on you for at least 36 hours to transmit Lyme disease. Even if you see no ticks, it’s smart to shower and wash your clothes, or at least toss them into a dryer to kill any ticks.
  • Inspect pets as well. Always examine your animals for ticks after they come into the house from being outside.
  • Keep your lawn mowed. Try to let as much sun into your yard as possible. Ticks prefer long grasses and shady spots.
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