As the cool days of spring give way to the warmth of summer, the mosquito population will once again be on the rise. Not only are the bites of these pesky insects itchy and irritating, but mosquitoes are known to carry diseases like the West Nile virus and (more recently) the Zika virus, both of which can be dangerous to pregnant women. The good news is that even on the trail or at the camp site, it’s possible to take steps to severely reduce your risk of exposure to mosquitoes and keep your family safe. As campers we may love the beauty and power of nature, but nature can bite!
Batten Down the Hatches!
Before you break out the bug spray, the best preventative step for keeping mosquitoes at bay is to inspect your home, tents, and campers for entry points. Small tears in screen doors, tents and windows are the primary culprits for letting insects into your home, but don’t overlook loose weather stripping and caulking around doorframes, windows, and vents as well. Fixing these entry points will keep out all kinds of pests including mosquitoes, so this is one of the most cost-effective measures to take in the fight against the bite.
Kick Those Buckets!
Besides sealing up entry points in and around your living spaces, one of the best ways to reduce your risk of mosquito bites is to inspect your property for standing water. A mosquito’s favorite breeding ground is pockets of calm, undisturbed water that allow the larva to breathe and develop away from predators, so search your property for upturned buckets, old tires and any other discarded items that have the potential to collect water. Even places designed to hold water like bird baths and ponds should be changed regularly, as these areas are just as prone to mosquito breeding as hidden pockets of standing water.
Cut Off Their Food Supply!
Once preventative measures are complete your home or living area should be reasonably protected against mosquitoes, but walking around outdoors is a different story. Wearing shoes and socks along with long-sleeved pants and shirt minimize skin exposure to mosquitoes, but for true protection it’s a good idea to have insect repellant available at all times. These repellants will contain DEET, picaridin, lemon oil and eucalyptus extract or IR 3535, all of which deter insect activity. Some repellants can be toxic for infants and children however, so consult your physician before administering these for the first time.
Active people enjoying the outdoors are never completely free of the threat of a mosquito bite, but by taking these precautions you can minimize your risk and maximize your fun!