Those itchy bumps from run of the mill mosquito bites well, they suck. And with the Zika virus in the news, you can add anxiety to the fun. The virus can bring on mild flu-like symptoms or an autoimmune disease. Stay ahead of the disease carriers with these tips for keeping the bugs at bay:
1. Get rid of stagnant water.
Make sure there’s no standing water anywhere — on toys left out on the lawn, plates under your flowerpots or garbage in an open can. Ponds, kiddie pools and improperly drained yards can also attract mosquitoes.
“Something as small as a bottle cap can be a breeding spot for mosquitoes,” says Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association. “The good thing is that they can’t fly very far, so if you can eliminate breeding spots on your property, you can greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes near your house.”
2. Hire a pro to check hidden spots.
An exterminator can inspect areas such as gutters, which can collect water and become a prime breeding spot. While you’re at it, assess your window screens and replace any that are ripped, broken or not fitting properly — especially if you live in a humid southern state.
3. Make natural repellents part of your landscape.
Some plants actually produce defensive chemicals to deter hungry animals (like deer) that will also ward off insects. But, these repellents aren’t usually released unless the plant is actually harmed. So if you fill your yard with species like citronella, make sure to rough ’em up before your next party. Or if you have a deer problem, let the deer feed!
4. Apply repellent, then do it again.
A lotion or spray containing DEET, it’s safe, even for kids, when used as directed, picaridin or oil of lemon or eucalyptus is your best bet for keeping mosquitoes away, but it will wear off after a certain number of hours, depending on the formula. Read the instructions on that bottle of insect repellent so you’ll know when to reapply. And don’t forget to put it on kids ages 2 months and older too.