How To Keep Mosquitoes Away This Summer
Mosquitoes are pretty much the bane of our summer existence. In Maryland, we’re home to about 60 different species, and it’s safe to say we love to hate ’em all, even moreso than cicadas.
Thankfully, we have a mosquito expert on our side here at CA. Our Environmental Program Manager, Danielle Tyeryar, is a great source of insight for staying one step ahead of pesky bloodsuckers. Unless you’re one of those lucky people who never gets bit, you’ll want to hear what she has to say….
Empty standing water
According to Tyeryar, the most important to know is that just two tablespoons of water can breed over 300 mosquito larvae. This means there’s tons of potential breeding grounds in your backyard that you might not be aware of. Kiddie pools, bird baths, planter trays, buckets, tarps, old tires, tins, trashcans and gutters all present a risk when not emptied regularly.
“Female adults lay eggs either directly on the water or on the sides of a container that will fill up with water,” Tyeryar said. “The aggressive biters are breeding in this type of environment, not ponds or wetlands.”
Because containers don’t have predators such as frogs and dragonfly larvae, they’re extra fertile breeding grounds. Tyeryar recommends emptying all potential containers in your yard at least once a week, which is how long it takes a mosquito to grow from an egg to an adult. It’s also essential to regularly unclog your gutters.
While many of us regard mosquitoes as all-powerful, the truth is they’re not the best fliers. Using a fan is a wonderfully simple preventative measure.
“Mosquitoes are too weak to fly against a fan, so it’s helpful to sit with one outside or attach one to a stroller if you’re talking a walk with the kids,” Tyeryar said.
Using a fan is actually more effective than lighting a traditional citronella candle, simply because the concentration in most candles is so low. According to Consumer Reports, sitting near a fan can reduce mosquito landings on your skin by up to 65 percent.
Spray the right way
Insect repellent should be sprayed into the palm of your hands, and then rubbed onto skin. Make sure to spray it outdoors, instead of in any enclosed areas. Don’t forget your feet; mosquitoes are notorious ankle-biters.
Equally important is what you don’t spray — sadly, we’re talking about your favorite perfume. Strong scents are a big attractant, so it’s best to skimp on all your body sprays and perfumes if you want to stay bite-free.
“Mosquitoes are attracted to the CO2 in your breath and the lactic acid in your sweat. So we do want you to wear deodorant so you don’t sweat as much, but it’s best to skip the super-strong scents and go for a more neutral option in the summer,” Tyeryar said.
Avoid peak mosquito time
At dawn and dusk, mosquitoes are at their most active. If you do have to be outdoors at those times, try to wear long pants and sleeves if possible. And if it’s too hot to cover up, you may want to opt for lighter-colored clothes, since black and darker colors have been found to attract mosquitoes.
We know, we know: Scratching bites is oh so tempting. But the truth is, scratching increases inflammation and makes itching even worse. It also increases your chance of an infection if you break the skin.
Aloe vera is one great natural alternative to help soothe itchy skin. A cold pack or bag of crushed ice can also bring relief. Even a small drop of honey can help, since has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (and it helps curb scratching, since no one wants to spread a sticky mess on their skin!).
Hopefully, the above tips help keep the bugs from ruining your good time. Happy summer, everyone!