Preventing and Treating Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are pesky little creatures. Not only are they annoying and produce really itchy bites, they carry disease such as the West Nile Virus and the Zika virus, to name a few. Only females bite because the extra protein and iron are necessary to produce eggs. Here are some tips on preventing and treating mosquitoes and their irritating bites.
Mosquito populations can best be reduced before they become adults. Knowing how to limit breeding sites can drastically reduce numbers around our homes without harming other living creatures. Some of the best ways to limit breeding sites are:
- Eliminating any standing water near the home such as blocked or poorly drained gutters, buckets, children’s toys, A/C condensate, old tires, tarps, potted plant saucers, and any other containers that may collect water.
- Replacing water in your pet’s water dish every day and clean out bird baths every 4 days.
- Storing buckets, wheel barrels, pots and other containers upside down.
- Checking to make sure you don’t have trees with cavities holding water more than 4 days.
Despite your best efforts on reducing breeding sites, there will still be mosquitoes. Some of the best ways to prevent bites are:
- Wearing light-colored, loose fitting, clothing that covers most of the body when outdoors.
- Avoiding peak activity times – dusk and dawn for many mosquito species.
- Sitting in a breeze, whether it’s from Mother Nature or a fan because mosquitoes are weak fliers. If using a fan, keep the flow of air directed at the lower half of your body; they tend to fly very close to the ground to avoid wind, so directing the air current downward will block their approach.
- Avoiding fragrant soaps, shampoos, and lotions.
- Using a mosquito repellent, which can be effective when used properly. DEET, an active ingredient in many insect repellents, is one of the most popular. You should apply to both exposed skin and clothing according to label instructions. Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide as the main thing to search for food sources. DEET works by blocking a mosquito’s CO2 receptors. So mosquitoes may still land on you if you apply it, but they won’t bite. For effectiveness and precautions, visit the EPA website. The America Academy of Pediatrics provides recommendations for using insect repellents on children.
You’ve tried your best to avoid mosquitoes, taken all the precautions, but inevitably find yourself with an itchy bite. So what’s the best way to treat it? Most bites go away on their own without a trip to the doc’s office in a few days.
- It is recommended to clean the area with soap and water to remove any remaining contamination.
- Try not to scratch the bite. Scratching can lead to a breakdown of the skin and an infection can form. Try a cold compress to reduce inflammation and the urge to scratch.
- Over-the-counter medicines-antihistamines (such as Benadryl), hydrocortisone cream, or calamine lotion may help lessen the itch. Be sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician before giving/applying medicines to a child.
For more information, please visit the Center for Disease Control.