April showers bring May flowers. Unfortunately, those showers also bring an unwanted side effect, mosquitoes. Yes, my friends, it’s time to begin the annual battle with one of smallest and most annoying insects. This year poses a special challenge as most of us are dodging itchy mosquito bites and the viruses that can accompany them. Of particular concern are Zika and West Nile viruses. Both Zika and West Nile have been transmitted by mosquito bites, so, it is imperative to keep ourselves protected. Macon-Bibb Cooperative Extension offers the following recommendations for keeping the bugs away.
Use insect repellent. Look for an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent. The repellent should contain one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin (may also be listed as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and Icaridin) or oil of lemon eucalyptus. These ingredients, when used according to directions, are safe and effective. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and children can also use insect repellent.
Keep insect repellent handy and follow the instructions. Because I have three children that love being outside, I try to keep insect repellent handy. I keep bottles of insect repellent in the car, house and on the porch and communicate to everyone where they are. Insect repellent does wear off over time. I was surprised to learn this, but trust me it’s right there on the label. The instructions for your particular repellent will provide information on how often to reapply it.
Secure your home. One surefire way to avoid mosquitoes is to keep them out of the house. Use screens on windows and doors. Remember to repair any holes or tears. Use air conditioning. Mosquitoes will not live long in cooler conditions.
Check outside the house. Get rid of standing water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in and around standing water so do not make it convenient for them. Make sure tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, tree stumps, gutters, flowerpots and trash containers that may be around your home do not hold standing water. If you love entertaining outside as I do, invest in citronella candles and provide guests with insect repellent.
Mosquitoes also love to hangout in shrubs, trees, weeds and other plants. Trim foliage and clean flowerbeds and other planters to reduce your mosquito population. You may also opt to use an insecticide in outside areas. Remember to spray vegetation where mosquitoes rest, and shaded areas such as under decks, porches, out buildings and around screened doors and windows. It is also a good idea to spray outside areas a day or two prior to entertaining.
Now enjoy the long leisurely evenings, time with family and friends and outside activities without fear of mosquitoes.