Mosquitoes spread more diseases than any other organism on the planet. Some mosquitoes carry diseases such as West Nile Virus, Malaria, Dengue, and Yellow Fever. They also can transmit diseases to dogs, cats, and horses. Even when they don’t transmit diseases mosquitoes are just downright annoying. Not to mention itchy.
Every year the week of June 26th is declared National Mosquito Awareness week to bring educate the public about how to protect yourself and your family from those pesky little bugs. This year National Mosquito Awareness week is June 22nd-28th.
The American Mosquito Control Association recommends that people follow the 3 D’s for mosquito control – Drain, Dress, and Defend.
Mosquitoes need water to breed. They can breed hundreds of mosquitoes in the smallest amount of water such as a little bit of water in a dog bowl outside. The American Mosquito Control Association recommends draining any standing water around your house as frequently as possible. They suggested about once a week. (I’m totally guilty of not doing this. There is definitely water in my son’s backyard water table that has probably been there all month. )
Some other areas that collect enough water to breed mosquitoes are :
- dog bowls
- canoes and other boats
- water collecting on pool covers
- water tables
- children’s toys
- bird baths
- recycling bins
The American Mosquito Control Association suggests dressing in light loose fitting clothing. Studies they have done have proven that mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors. (Maybe pink is the new black?) Their studies have also shown that mosquitoes can bite through tight fitting clothes easier than they can loose fitting clothes. They suggest that people wear long sleeves and long pants to prevent mosquito bites. So keep that in mind when you go to watch the fireworks this year.
There are many sprays on the market to prevent mosquitoes from biting you. The trick is to choose one that is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as they are reviewed, approved, and safe for humans to use. There are four main ingredients that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in bug sprays. They are DEET, Picaridin, Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, and IR3535. These sprays are to be used sparingly and applied directly to the skin. It is recommended that you shower as soon as you come indoors to remove them from your skin.
Have an infant ? Pregnant? The American Academy of Pediatrics has approved DEET in concentrations of 10% or less but no more than 30% in children two months of age and older. DEET should not be used on children under 2 months. Pregnant and nursing women can also use bug sprays containing DEET.
MiaLynn also has some helpful Do’s and Don’ts when using Insect Repellent as well as some Teachable Moments for your children :
4 Do’s and Don’ts of Insect Repellent
- Do choose products with 10-30% DEET. There is no research with the effectiveness of more than 30% DEET
- Do not choose products that are combined with DEET. (Example: sunscreen and DEET; sunscreen gets applied multiple times throughout the day while DEET is one time a day.)
- Do not apply insect repellent to children’s hands since they are frequently in their mouths.
- Do apply in an open area so the product is not inhaled.
- Teach children to wear shoes outdoors especially in grassy areas.
- Teach children to avoid insect nests or where they gather.
- Teach children to avoid sugary drinks and snacks outdoors as they attract bugs.
- Teach children to wash their bug bite with soap and water and tell an adult immediately.
For more information on insect repellents safely, visit HealthyChildren.org.
Chemical free bug sprays? I am kind of a crunchy mom. If something is all natural and I can pronounce every ingredient, I am all over it. There are bug sprays on the market with active ingredients such as lemon grass oil, peppermint, cinnamon, etc. I found one fairly inexpensive at Target for under $5. It isn’t quite as effective as the ones containing DEET so I have to spray my son more frequently. I also have been looking into recipes to make my own homemade all natural bug spray. Here is the one that I am going to try making for my toddler and I.
Homemade Bug Spray :
- Spray Bottle (you can find some at the dollar store or Walgreen’s)
- Witch Hazel
- Peppermint or lemongrass essential oil
Fill the spray bottle with half water and half witch hazel. Add 15 or so drops of essential oil. Shake the bottle. Spray it on to repel bugs. The spray will last 2-3 months in the fridge.
The bugs are bad this year! How do fight the bite…and itch?