Mosquitoes are blood-sucking pests that can carry disease, leaving itchy welts on your skin. But there are several simple steps you can take to protect yourself from bites:
First, cover up with light-coloured clothing and use insect repellent. Next, eliminate places where mosquitoes can breed—such as empty birdbaths and water storage containers.
1. Wear Coverups
The best protection against mosquitoes is to wear coverups, says dermatologist Melissa Piliang. Mosquitoes are attracted to bare skin, so covering them with long pants and sleeves can help reduce the number of bites you receive.
In addition, light-coloured clothing, such as white or pale yellow, helps reduce your chances of being bitten because it reflects heat off your body.
This makes it less noticeable to mosquitoes, explains Dr Piliang, who also points out that clothing treated with permethrin may also be effective against mosquitoes.
Spraying your clothes and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus can also help protect you from bites. Repellents mask the smell of human sweat and carbon dioxide, which can strongly attract mosquitoes.
2. Apply Repellent
Besides wearing coverups, the best protection against mosquitoes is to apply repellent when you’re outdoors. Repellents are essential around dusk and dawn when mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus bite.
Insect repellents that contain DEET or picaridin are generally considered the safest. These chemicals have been used for decades and are well-known for keeping mosquitoes off people.
They also help protect against ticks. However, it is essential to note that DEET can damage plastic and synthetic gear components, so be careful when using them.
An excellent natural alternative is citronella, used for centuries to ward off mosquitoes and other insects. Citronella is a mixture of essential oils.
Another type of repellent is a “wearable” product that incorporates insect-repelling plant oil into wristbands or clips you can wear. Though these products are easier to use than skin-applied repellents, they won’t protect completely. So when outside, you’ll still need a skin-applied repellent to cover exposed skin and clothing, like a mosquito repellent lotion.
3. Stay Indoors
Mosquitoes are a nuisance and even more dangerous when they bite and transmit diseases like the West Nile virus. While most people react to mosquito bites with itching and swelling, those who get bitten by the mosquitoes that carry the viruses can become very ill.
Fortunately, there are ways to minimise mosquito exposure and protect yourself from illness. The best protection against mosquitoes is to stay indoors during peak biting times, such as dawn and dusk.
Wearing a hat, long pants, and a shirt with sleeves can help shield you from mosquito bites. Likewise, repellents like permethrin and DEET can also protect you against these pests.
Garlic is another natural repellent used in the home to keep mosquitoes away. The pungent odour of garlic drives the insects out and can be used as a spray for the entire house.
4. Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Areas
One of the most important things you can do to help prevent mosquito bites is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas. Mosquitoes need standing water to lay their eggs, and anything that can collect rainwater or debris is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Take a close look at your backyard for places that might hold water. It’s best to get rid of rain gutters, used tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys and any other containers that might collect standing water.
Empty and scrub, turn over or cover all items that might hold standing water at least once a week. Also, open and clean kiddie pools, tarps, pet dishes, birdbaths and flower pot saucers at least once a week to disrupt the mosquito’s breeding cycle.
Clogged rain gutters are another prime location for mosquitoes to breed, so they are clear and drained regularly. Check tarps on boats and other equipment for pockets or indentations that could gather rainwater and make sure they fit tightly.