Every summer brings about the concern of mosquito control, but this season might have you on particularly high alert with the threat of the Zika virus along with outbreaks of chikungunya and West Nile Virus in many states. While the threat of insect-transmitted diseases is a scary one, there is no need to panic when it comes to facilitating outdoor fun in the summer season. Numerous health agencies have cited proper mosquito control as the most effective line of defense against the diseases that these insects carry, so you should focus your efforts on reducing mosquito populations around your home to improve your family’s health and safety. Keep reading for a closer look at the smart steps you should take for minimizing mosquito breeding sites to zap a leading summer health concern at the source.
Take a Broad Approach
While it is important to know how to keep mosquitos from swarming and biting, it is best to stop them from breeding in the first place. That might mean enlisting friends and neighbors to take the following steps along with you to keep mosquitos at bay in your area.
Keep Your Yard Clean – Clutter such as old tires, unused trash bins, and even children’s toys left in the yard can collect rainwater and create a welcoming breeding ground for mosquitos. Even just a small amount of standing water is enough to attract a significantly sized colony of mosquitos, so make sure that you remove any and all clutter from the yard and keep rain harvesting barrels, pools, and other water features well protected with mesh screens and mosquito-repelling plants. Maintaining your landscape with well-trimmed grass and limited overgrowth of weeds and vines is also helpful, since lush areas of tall grass and shrubbery are an oasis for adult mosquitos.
Close Doors and Screens – If you do notice mosquitos around your property, you’ll want to keep their presence limited to the outdoors. Keeping doors and windows closed or properly screened will ensure that you can maintain an insect-free sanctuary inside the house.
Wear the Right Ensemble – Covering as much of your skin as possible with light, loose-fitting clothing is a good way to keep mosquitos from biting, especially on the legs, feet, and ankles, where mosquitos are more likely to swarm. You might also look to spray-on insect repellants designed specifically for mosquito control. DEET is a common mosquito repellant—look for about 20-30% concentration in the spray—or you might choose a natural repellant like oil of lemon eucalyptus, which may be less irritating to sensitive skin. Regardless of which product you choose, remember to reapply when you are outdoors for extended periods and avoid any contact with the eyes and mouth.
Avoid Mosquito Myths
Just as important as knowing what to do about mosquitos is knowing what not to do. With the heightened awareness of mosquito protection this season, you may see a wider range of products touting mosquito control that don’t actually work. Citronella candles and Tiki torches are only mild repellants, though they may be aided with a pedestal fan set to high, which can cut down on mosquito landings. Mosquito repellant wristbands are widely ineffective, offering protection only for the wrist where it is being worn. Items like backyard sprays, bug zappers, and traps have all shown very limited protection from mosquitos, so you should avoid wasting your money on these tools. Instead, focus your efforts on maintaining a clean yard and wearing the right clothes for your outdoor recreation. As an added bonus, these measures can repel ticks and stinging insects, which can pose problems of their own when it comes to your health.