I love summer. I just wanted to get that out of the way at the top, since I recently wrote about the dangers and health risks of heat, and I’m about to tackle everyone’s least favorite summertime guest — the mosquito.
Rainy weather can lead to an increase in standing water in yards, ditches and other locations — which can quickly lead to more mosquitoes, more mosquito bites and the infernal itching that accompanies them.
In addition to the uncomfortable itching, mosquitoes can be highly effective disease vectors, so here are some mosquito basics and tips to prevent getting bitten.
Mosquitoes can live indoors and outdoors and can bite during the day and night, so you should always be alert for the blood-sucking pests. Both male and female mosquitoes can bite, but the females bite to ingest blood to lay eggs, creating more and more mosquitoes, increasing the chance of spreading a dangerous disease
The coffee-cup saying, “a pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure,” applies to mosquitoes. You cannot get a disease from a mosquito if you don’t get a bite from one.
To prevent mosquito bites, wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants. Avoid areas with lots of standing water and lots of mosquitoes. Check your window screens and other ways that mosquitoes can get inside to keep them outdoors, and away from where you sleep. Lastly, use an EPA-approved mosquito repellent.
There are several approved and effective insect repellents that are approved by the EPA and recommended by the CDC. DEET was the first synthetic repellent. Look for products that contain about 25% to 30% and reapply as needed since the higher concentrations do not offer that much more protection.
DEET also is an item of concern for infants, so make sure to read the product labels. Picaridin and IR3535 are newer synthetic products that have no odor or staining potential. Again, be sure to read the labels, but they are safe and effective if used as directed.
While a little hard to pronounce there are several popular plant-based repellents on the market. P-Menthane-3,8-diol has a long repellent life and for some types of mosquitoes is more effective than DEET. Kids under 3 should not use it. 2-undecanone is another option that is plant based and in many products; it is less effective, but very safe.
So, take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and the diseases that can come along with them. Always follow your product labels for insect repellent. One last tip: Apply sunscreen first and follow up with insect repellent, they both work better that way.
If you have any questions about home pests or any Extension programs, reach out or stop by our office at 3200-A W. Meighan Blvd. in Gadsden, call us at 256-547-7936 or visit us on Facebook at https://bit.ly/3otwUdl or online at https://bit.ly/3yniPCx.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Everyone is welcome! Please let us know if you have accessibility needs.
Eric Wright is extension coordinator for the Etowah County Extension Office.
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