Summer’s officially here. And so are the bugs. If you don’t want to spend the next couple of months swatting and scratching, read on for some handy ways to say goodbye to bug bites.
1. Spending time in the great outdoors?
Try wearing light-colored clothing that covers your arms and legs. Why? Because covering up helps protect you from bites, and wearing lighter colors will make you less attractive to most bugs – not to mention it’ll be a lot easier to spot ticks.
If you’re concerned that a tick may have attached itself to your clothing, simply throw your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. Or consider applying 0.5% permethrin to your clothes, boots and gear before you head out, especially if you know you’ll be in an area where ticks are typically present. Learn more about permethrin here.
2. Want to de-bug your backyard?
Keep your yard tidy (i.e., free of places pests like to hang out) to help keep bugs and ticks away—and it’s a great way to not bug your neighbors (See what we did there?) It’s as simple as mowing your lawn on the regular, keeping your bushes trimmed, removing leaf litter and getting rid of any standing water after a rainfall.
Still can’t beat the bugs? Try a citronella candle, keep a planter with repelling herbs, like rosemary, basil or lavender nearby, or get a lantern repeller that looks attractive and has no nasty odor.
3. Planning a picnic?
Make sure your food is covered to stop greedy guys, like bees and wasps, from coming around. These insects are attracted to food or things they think are food—like colouful blankets, bright clothing or strong-smelling perfume. Not sure how to keep your feast safe from the elements and keep bugs away at the same time? These guys should do the trick!
4. Camping or cottage-ing?
Hang out behind a screen whenever you can! Zip up the screen on your tent when camping, hang out in the gazebo while at the cottage, or if you’ve got a screened-in porch, grab some healthy snacks and stay put during peak buggy times (dawn and dusk for mosquitoes, late afternoon for black flies, and warmer daytime hours for ticks).
5. Hanging out under the stars?
Turn off the lights in your doorway or entrance when leaving the house after dark. You might be surprised to learn that pesky bugs, like mosquitoes, flies and moths, are mistakenly using your light (a.k.a. “artificial moon”) as a navigation tool.
Unfortunately, it’s only doing a good job of leading them right to your door! If you have a problem with late-night visitors, try swapping your UV light for a red one to keep unwanted guests away.
6. Like to hike?
Great, just try to stay away from bushy, grassy areas whenever possible. And be sure to leave your sandals behind to avoid exposing your feet and ankles. Socks and running shoes are the way to go!
And if Rover enjoys those daily walks in the woods, take a moment to research which areas are popular playgrounds for ticks before you head out. And remember, ticks can live on animals – so there’s always the chance that Rover could bring home an unwelcome guest. Consider giving him a summer shave to make it easier to spot ticks and treat bites.
7. Looking for a surefire way to protect yourself from ticks?
Get yourself some DEET, and apply it, as recommended, before heading outside. Note that it is important that you follow instructions when applying DEET so as to avoid adverse side effects. A maximum 30% concentration is recommended for adults, and even less (no more than 10%) for children up to 12 years.
Note that DEET is not recommended for infants less than two months old. You could always try applying DEET to your clothes (instead of your skin) to help repel ticks without having to worry about DEET-related reactions. Find some more great safety tips here.
8. Worried about DEET’s side effects?
Picaridin is a safer alternative. It doesn’t irritate skin or eyes, it’s odorless, plus it’s recommended by the World Health Organization. But while it’s just as effective (if not more so) than DEET when it comes to repelling mosquitoes, long-term side effects and efficacy against ticks are still unknown.
Want to give it a try? Piactive and Natrapel are a couple of DEET-free repellents on the market. Or, if you prefer the all-natural route, try making one of these 10 DIY repellants. Whether or not they’re as effective as the tougher stuff, you tell us!
9. Worried you may have come in contact with a tick?
First check your body for ticks, then follow up with a shower in case one of the little buggers was hiding. Ticks can be as small as a sesame seed, so there’s a chance you might not see one even if it’s there. If you do find a tick, act quickly.
Either remove it yourself or seek medical assistance (as soon as possible) if you can’t do it on your own. If you see signs of a tick bite (note these don’t typically show up right away), see your doctor or head to a walk-in clinic. A health professional may prescribe antibiotics to prevent lyme disease, or might only suggest treatment if symptoms for lyme disease develop.
Now that you’re armed with the information you need to prevent both pesky and serious bug bites, get out there and enjoy your summer while it lasts! Before you know it, we won’t be complaining about things that go “buzz,” but instead stuff that makes us go “brr.” How’s that for putting things into perspective?