Summer Pest PreventionBy Missy Henriksen
Monday, June 17, 2013
How to Keep the Ticks and Mosquitoes at Bay
Summer has arrived. And while people relish in the
warm weather and sights and smells of the season, they also must
contend with the pests of the season. Bugs can be frightening as
they buzz around a picnic and ants can become a major annoyance if
they find an opening into the home. Then, there are other common
summer pests that can be much more than a nuisance – those like
ticks and mosquitoes that can transmit disease.
Certain species of ticks can
carry Lyme disease and mosquitoes
are known to spread West Nile virus and encephalitis. Even more
alarming is the fact that there has been an increase in cases of
both Lyme disease and West Nile Virus across the country in recent
In 2012, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 5,387 human cases of West
Nile Virus, 243 of which were fatal. This reflects one of the
biggest outbreaks of the virus in the United States and the
deadliest year on record.
And in April, a new study published in the
journal CMAJ Open found that Lyme disease rates are
rising in the Northern U.S., with a significant increase seen in 21
states between 1992 and 2007.
These illnesses can be severe and sometimes fatal, but there are
steps people can take to help protect themselves from coming into
contact with these pests:
- Wear light-colored
clothing – Ticks, especially the Blacklegged deer tick which
can carry Lyme disease, are found in wooded areas and like to climb
tall grasses to wait for a passing host. When in a wooded
environments, wear light-colored long pants, long-sleeve shirts and
closed-toe shoes to prevent ticks from biting the skin.
Light-colored clothing makes the ticks easier to spot if one
decides to hitch a ride.
- Use bug spray
– DEET is the active ingredient in many insect repellents and is an
effective way to deter ticks and other pests when outside. Bug
spray containing at least 20% DEET is recommended.
- Make your property
unattractive – Keep your grass cut. Ticks prefer to hide in
tall grass and wait for a passing human or animal.
- Check for
ticks – After being outdoors, inspect yourself for ticks.
fond of warm body parts such as the groin and armpit, so be
sure to check all areas. Also, don’t forget to check your pets for
ticks if they have been outside. Pets can easily pick up ticks,
which can then be transferred to other family members once inside
- Eliminate breeding
grounds – Mosquitoes only need about ½ inch of water to
breed. Eliminating areas of standing water around the home such as
flowerpots, birdbaths and baby pools can greatly reduce the number
of mosquitoes in the area.
- Be aware of the time
of day – Between dawn and dusk is peak activity time for
mosquitoes. Minimize outside activity during those times to prevent
- Watch what you
wear – Mosquitoes are attracted to specific characteristics
of clothing such as dark colors and floral prints. Avoid wearing
sweet-smelling perfumes and colognes, which could also attract
mosquitoes to you.
- Protect your
house – Screen windows and doors, and repair tears in
existing screens to prevent mosquitoes from flying inside.
These tips can help prevent bites, but if you think you or
someone you know has contracted an insect-borne disease,
immediately consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.