Summer is here and with it the anticipation of outdoor activities. There are a few downsides to the season, however, and one of them is biting insects, especially mosquitoes. Plan to ensure these pesky insects don’t put a damper on your summer fun.
The best way to prevent mosquitoes from biting is to prevent them from breeding. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, before developing into an adult capable of flying and biting, the mosquito goes through three stages: egg, larva, and pupa. Mosquitoes need water to move through the first three stages of its life cycle. Some people mistakenly think that any body of water in the vicinity produces mosquitoes. The fact is that the water must be stagnant. Even an inch or two of standing water is enough for female mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
As the weather heats up, examine your property for potential breeding grounds. If you have an ornamental pond on your property, stocking it with fish will repel mosquitoes. Drain wading pools when not in use and turn them over. Mosquitoes are tiny creatures, and even the few drops of water you fail to drain out of the pool, will be enough for mosquitoes to breed. Empty all containers regularly, and drill drainage holes in the bottom of garbage and recycling cans. Check your gutters to ensure they’re draining properly. It’s not just manmade products that can be a problem. Water that collects in tree holes and clogged drainage ditches can be an attractive spot for a female ready to lay her eggs. Planting marigolds is a good deterrent, as mosquitoes don’t care for the scent they exude. They’re repelled by smoke, so burning a few candles outdoors is a good idea.
Even if you’re very vigilant and manage to prevent mosquitoes from reproducing on your property, you don’t have any control in reducing the mosquito population in other areas. In these situations, you must take precautions to protect yourself. Avoid outside activities at dawn and dusk as mosquitoes are most active at these times. In addition, wear light-colored clothing, and even though summer heat is not conducive to wearing long sleeves and pants, cover as much of your body as possible.
It’s also important to choose a bug repellant to spray on your skin. The best repellents on the market contain a chemical called DEET. Joseph Conlon, retired U.S. Navy entomologist and technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association, believes these substances are safe to use if applied properly and in moderation. However, if you’re one of a growing number of people who balk at the idea of spraying synthetic chemicals on your body, there are a number of natural oils and extracts that when used alone or combined can keep these annoying flying bugs at bay. These include cinnamon leaf oil, citronella oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, vanilla extract, and catnip oil. One study conducted in 2001 found that catnip oil is ten times more effective than DEET at deterring mosquitoes.
What you put in your body can also determine whether you attract or repel mosquitoes. According to Dr. Janet Starr Hill, an alternative health and medicine specialist, avoid eating bananas. In addition, researchers at the Mayo Clinic recommend adding 75 to 150 milligrams of Vitamin B-1 to your daily diet.
Mosquitoes may be small, but they will become a big problem if allowed to breed. Even the most well-planned activities can be ruined when mosquitoes arrive on the scene. Take steps to keep these unwanted guests from crashing your backyard festivities, and when traveling, take precautions to protect yourself.