With nicer weather and the easing of the pandemic, families are heading outside again. Two common outdoor pests bring potential diseases with them—mosquitos (West Nile, Dengue, and Zika viruses) and ticks (Lyme disease). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tips on preventing mosquito and tick bites.
Preventing Mosquito Bites
Using the right insect repellent and other preventive actions can discourage mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects from landing on you. Here are tips for other preventive actions you can take against mosquitoes.
Remove Mosquito Habitats
- Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where mosquitoes can breed.
- Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week to destroy potential mosquito habitats.
- Drain or fill temporary pools of water with dirt.
- Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating.
Use Appropriate Pesticides
- Control mosquito larvae using the appropriate methods for the habitat
- Control adult mosquitoes using insecticides.
Use Structural Barriers
- Cover all gaps in walls, doors, and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
- Make sure window and door screens are in good working order.
- Completely cover baby carriers and beds with netting.
Avoid Getting Bitten
- Keep mosquitoes away from exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks.
- Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks to cover gaps in your clothing where mosquitoes can get to your skin.
- Stay indoors when possible, especially if there is a mosquito-borne disease warning in effect.
- Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents when necessary and follow label directions and precautions closely.
- Use head nets, long sleeves and long pants if you venture into areas with high mosquito populations, such as salt marshes.
- Replace your outdoor lights with yellow “bug” lights, which tend to attract fewer mosquitoes than ordinary lights. The yellow lights are NOT repellents, however.
Additional Information on Avoiding Mosquito Habitats and Bites
- Methods of Mosquito Control (EPA)
- Success in Mosquito Control: An Integrated Approach (EPA)
- Prevention and Control (CDC)
- Mosquito Control Methods (National Pesticide Information Center)
Preventing Tick Bites
Here are tips for other preventive actions you can take against ticks
Avoid Tick Habitats
- Reduce time spent in potentially tick-infested habitats such as tall grass and shrubs.
- Reduce leaf litter and mow tall grass or brush that may serve as tick habitat.
- Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with adjacent vegetation.
Avoid Tick Bites
- Keep ticks away from exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and high boots.
- Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks to cover gaps in your clothing where ticks can get in.
- Wear light-colored clothing to be able to see ticks more easily.
- Check the entire body for ticks; promptly remove attached ticks without squeezing them!
Additional Information on Avoiding Tick Habitats, Bites and Infection