Health Advocate Blog

Keeping bugs at bay this summer

Now that summer is here, we’re all eager to get outdoors! However, insects can be a nuisance, inviting themselves to many of your summertime outdoor adventures. Mosquitoes and ticks, among other insects, can cause a nasty bite, but more importantly, they can possibly carry and pass on diseases including Zika, West Nile and Lyme (depending on where you live). By being vigilant and taking precautions like those below to prevent bites and stings, you can protect yourself and your family while enjoying your time outside in the months ahead.

  • When working or spending time outdoors (especially during the hours when mosquitoes are typically biting), try wearing long sleeves, pants and socks to reduce your risk of being bitten. Experts recommend light-colored clothing to help you spot any critters hitching a ride. And make sure to wear shoes to avoid stepping on and being stung by insects on the ground.
  • When indoors, use air conditioning and/or window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from coming inside.
  • Avoid using scented products like soaps or perfumes that can attract some insects when outside.
  • Watch out for areas of standing water – this attracts many insects, especially mosquitos.
  • Use bug spray on any exposed skin and on your clothing to make yourself less attractive to insects. To find the best repellent for you, check out this tool from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to search registered repellents. The EPA and CDC recommend repellents that list any of the following as active ingredients – DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Use citronella candles to help repel mosquitoes and other bugs.
  • Check yourself! After spending time outdoors, thoroughly check over your entire body for ticks – they especially like to hide behind knees, in armpits, and behind ears, among other spots. Removing ticks carefully with a tweezer within a few hours can ensure they haven’t had a chance to pass on any bacteria that causes disease.

For more information, check out the CDC’s guide on preventing bug bites. If despite your best efforts, you still get bitten or stung, treat the area with a cool compress followed by topical ointment. Contact your doctor if these at-home tips do not help–they may recommend other additional treatments depending on your symptoms. If you or someone in your family has a severe allergic reaction to a bite or sting, such as fainting or trouble breathing, go to the ER or call 911 immediately.

Summer is and should be a fantastic season for outdoor fun of all kinds. By taking precautions to protect your and your family from insects and their bites, you can help ensure you enjoy this summer to its fullest.