Expert advice: effective methods of protection against mosquitoes and ticks - ForumDaily
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Expert Tips: Effective Mosquito and Tick Protection Methods

Every year in the United States, mosquitoes and ticks infect hundreds of thousands of people with a variety of infections, including Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and others, which are fraught with serious consequences. The best strategy to avoid these diseases is to use multiple layers of protection, not just one. How and what to do, said the publication Yahoo!.

Photo: Shutterstock

The use of insect repellants is certainly a key safety factor, but the most effective prevention of insect bites requires taking extra precautions.

“The most important thing is to avoid biting in the first place,” says Rebecca Eisen, Ph.D., a research biologist at the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Fortunately, there are very simple things you can do to protect yourself and your family.”

your yard

Mosquitoes. According to the CDC, an important strategy to protect your yard from mosquitoes is to eliminate their preferred breeding environment, standing water. Keep your yard clean, and keep bird baths, old tires, wheelbarrows, and pool covers free of standing water. Also remove ivy and rotting leaves.

As for your patio, testers tried two repellants a few years ago—citronella candles and a battery-powered geraniol diffuser—and found them to be ineffective at controlling mosquitoes. The fan did a lot better. When installed at a height, it reduces mosquito landings by 45% to 65% for people sitting next to it.

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Mosquito traps that use fans, electric nets, or adhesive pads to trap and kill mosquitoes can also be effective. The idea behind them is usually to attract mosquitoes and kill those that come into contact with the traps. But the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) says their effectiveness depends on a variety of factors, including mosquito species, the size of the area's insect population, season, wind conditions, and more. Therefore, it is not clear if their use results in a noticeable reduction in the overall mosquito population, and the traps may even potentially attract more mosquitoes to the area than they can kill.

Safety experts warn against using yard foggers or insecticide sprayers.

"You can inhale chemicals, and some of them have been linked to serious health problems, including endocrine disruption and neurological effects," says Michael Hansen, Ph.D., senior researcher at Consumer Reports.

Ticks. These parasites love tall grass and lots of shade. So mow your lawn, remove leaves and other debris, and try to get as much sun into your yard as possible. Consider putting a fence around your property to keep out deer and other large animals that can carry ticks. Another option is to create a 3-foot (90 cm) barrier of dry wood chips or gravel between the edge of the lawn and any wooded areas around the perimeter of your property, and this will keep mites from getting into your grass. Among other things, do not forget to check your pets for ticks after they have walked outside.

your clothes

Mosquitoes. Wear long sleeves, trousers, socks and closed shoes, especially if you are away from home for long periods of time. Avoid tight clothing (mosquitoes can bite through), dark colors and perfumes or aftershave (both attract mosquitoes). Apply a good repellant to exposed skin and clothing (but not under clothing). Here are some of the most popular insect repellants:

  • Ben's Tick & Insect Repellent Wipes
  • 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent8
  • Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent2
  • Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent

Ticks. When going for a walk in the woods or on the lawn in the summer, dress in the same way as in the case of mosquitoes. On light-colored clothing, bugs are easier to spot if they crawl on you. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks. Apply insect repellent to clothing and exposed skin.

Showering shortly after walking in areas where ticks are found reduces the risk of contracting a tick-borne disease. So jump in the shower after a hike or yard job and take the opportunity to check your skin for bites. Use tweezers to gently remove any parasites from the skin. For added protection, toss your clothes in a clothes dryer at high temperatures to kill mites that may be crawling there.

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The CDC also recommends wearing clothing treated with the insecticide permethrin or spraying one's own clothing with a permethrin spray. Scientists have found that treated cloth can incapacitate and even kill ticks, making them less likely to bite you. If you're wearing permethrin-treated clothing, you don't need to spray traditional bug spray on it.

Something About Stinging Insects

“For the most part, bees and wasps will leave you alone if you leave them alone,” says Stanton Cope, Ph.D., former Navy entomologist and former president of AMCA.

Cope says nests in your yard should only be removed if they are in high traffic areas. If you can, wait until autumn or winter - then the nests will be empty. If you need to remove them earlier, do it in the early spring in the morning or evening when the insects are less active.

Insecticide powders or sprays may be needed, but follow directions. Always wear protective clothing from head to toe and never remove nests if it requires standing on a ladder; in this case, you need to contact a professional.

Insects are attracted to strong odors. So to make yourself less attractive to bees and wasps, avoid using scented soaps, shampoos, and deodorants if you have insects in your yard or are going on a picnic.

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