Summer and early fall is an active time for mosquitoes and ticks. Both can ruin outside gathering activities and carry dangerous diseases for pets and humans. Warm, humid weather, and available water sources with higher grass, and woods are ideal for mosquitoes and ticks.
Getting bit by a mosquito hurts, but today’s bite could come at a very high price. Mosquitoes carry everything from the Zika virus, malaria, yellow fever, West Nile Virus, and encephalitis. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other infections.
There are several things you can do to make sure your home and yard aren’t the hosts for a mosquito or tick gathering. Cut grass low and pull up weeds to keep from promoting ticks. Remove any and all sources of standing water such as empty clay pots, water cans, outside dog bowls, which attract mosquitoes.
Wear insect repellent containing DEET if you are in the woods hiking, hunting, fishing around a lake, or pond. There are lighter options and all-natural deterrents like lemongrass oil and citronella sprays, but in heavily wooded areas, near a large water source or high grass DEET is going to be your best prevention. Just remember to shower and wash your hands after wearing products containing DEET.
When working in the yard, outside, hiking, or camping make sure you are wearing light-colored clothing with long sleeves, pants, and a hat. Ticks are easier to spot when you are wearing khakis as opposed to bluejeans. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors versus lighter colored clothing. When you come back inside don’t sit down on fabric furniture, or throw your clothes on the bed. Inspect them as you remove them for any signs of a tick and put them in the wash.
Citronella candles or torches are great for patios, decks, and porches. Mosquitoes do not like citronella, lemongrass, and other scents in these products. There are several electric bug zappers on the market but you will need to be able to plug them in away from your patio, or deck because they attract mosquitoes and other biting insects so you don’t want it too close to where you gather, but it needs to be within range to help rid the yard of them. Thermacell™ butane products for patio, decks, and camping are effective as well.
If your dog or cat is outside for any length of time it’s a good idea to include any number of safe products for ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes in their regimen during warm weather months. The longer the hair the more real estate for a tick to hide. You can also use a flea/tick collar. As with anything preventative used on your pet please consult your veterinarian for those options. Ticks are always carried inside on clothing, bags, and pets. Check your pet’s coat when it comes back in the house by rubbing the fur against its natural lay so as to expose the skin.
Keep alcohol, insect bite swabs/pens (Benadryl, etc.) on hand if you or your family is bitten. If you are bitten by a tick put it in a glass jar or sealed plastic container in case the person develops a fever, or has to be taken to the hospital. The ER may want to retrieve the insect for testing of disease if the person is ill. If you experience nausea, a fever, vomiting, or any other symptoms beyond the site of the bite contact your doctor or go to the ER immediately.
If you have a heavy infestation of ticks or mosquitoes you can find products at any hardware, home, and garden store to treat your yard, bushes, and shrubs. Products are available in a dry form to spread, or a spray bottle to attach to your hose with the right mixture of concentration.
Avoiding mosquitoes and ticks can be tough in the South, but prevention is your best bet against getting bitten.
Images: Unsplash.com & National Pest Mgmt Association, Tom Myers