We live in the South where our summers are filled with sweltering heat, blistering sunshine, and mosquitoes. We can’t change the sweltering heat or calm the blistering sun but we can help you fight back against mosquito attacks.
Why Mosquitoes Are More Than Just Annoying
Chances are good that you’ve been bitten by a mosquito at least once in your life and you know that while the sting is a bit bothersome, it’s usually not something to cry all the way home about, although some people are allergic to mosquito stings and can experience anaphylaxis. But the reason medical experts implore you to protect yourself against mosquitoes is actually in lieu of the diseases these pesky little creatures are known to carry.
Mosquitoes are linked to a number of potentially deadly or dangerous illnesses including malaria, yellow fever, West Nile virus, Saint Louis encephalitis, Zika virus, Dengue fever, and chikungunya. Though certain diseases like Dengue fever are typically found in tropical and subtropical regions, mosquitoes have been known to transmit these diseases around the world.
How to Fight Back
The good news is, biologists at the University of California are studying mosquitoes and their ability to carry diseases in hopes that researchers can stop future generations of mosquitoes from transmitting pathogens by altering their genes. Until the day this work by biologists takes a true effect on the mosquito population, we must continue to fight against attacks from mosquitoes.
The most popular way to fight mosquitoes and other summer insects is with insect repellent sprays like DEET. However, DEET is a strong chemical that isn’t considered safe for young children, particularly those under six months of age. The safer choice for people of all ages is a repellent known as picaridin or using a natural insect repellent like lemon eucalyptus oil.
Insect repellents work great to prevent mosquito attacks but you can also reduce the number of mosquitoes in your outdoor space. Remove all sources of standing water from your lawn and garden areas. If you have a kiddie pool with no filter, be sure to change the water every couple of days to reduce insects. Using screens or netting to cover a porch, patio or outdoor sitting area is also a great way to create a barrier mosquitoes can’t cross. You can purchase ready to hang screens for existing porches or screened enclosures to go over a patio or pool deck. Ready to hang screens are the more affordable option and can usually be purchased for less than $100 and screened enclosures typically cost between $500 – $2,000. Crafty people and do-it-yourselfers may find it cheaper and more fun to build their own screens, which costs less than purchasing an enclosure.
What to do if you get bitten
If you’re bitten by a mosquito, don’t panic. Treat the area with ice or hydrocortisone cream and then keep an eye out for symptoms such as fever, headache or joint pain in the days that follow. If you know you are susceptible to anaphylaxis from mosquito bites, keep an epi-pen nearby at all times and get emergency help immediately following a bite.