We’d all love to believe that, with back-to-school time approaching and summer drawing to a close, the end of mosquito season is also nearing, but NOPE. According to Terminix, the season runs until November for those in the Gulf Coast, Florida, and Hawaii, and until September for those in the rest of the country. Yay! Living in Illinois, I can vouch for the fact that the mosquitoes come out in droves for our late-September homecoming parade. (Maybe they just like to support the home team, too?) So how can you prevent mosquitoes in the first place and protect yourself from them when they do come around? Here are some great tips I’ve found.
Eliminate standing water: This is the number one prevention tip. You’ll read it everywhere and my city even sends it out when they get one too many complaints from residents about mosquito levels. Get rid of, clean out, or regularly turn over anything that holds still, standing water. Buckets, upside down lids, the Frisbee your kid left laying in the yard, the charming decorative bird bath, plastic pools, the dishes that your flowerpots sit in. Oh—and don’t forget to keep your gutters clean and empty of debris. Anything that holds standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Fill your yard with mosquito repelling plants: Prevent mosquitoes from bugging you by keeping them out of your yard in the first place. Plant things like citronella, peppermint, lavender, basil, and marigolds, which repel mosquitos naturally.
Spray your yard with mosquito repellant: I thought this was ridiculous (like mosquitoes are really going to stay out of my little patch of the universe because of some spray, right?), but then we did it, and it really works. We have way fewer mosquitoes when we spray. If you’re worried about chemicals, try a garlic spray. Supposedly, it’s one of the tricks they use to keep mosquitoes out of Walt Disney World.
Make sure your screens are in good repair: Is there anything worse than when the great outdoors comes inside? I didn’t think so. Make sure your screens are free of holes and tears so that mosquitoes stay outside where they belong.
So what about keeping bugs off you?
Avoid peak mosquito times: Mosquitoes are out in full force at dawn and dusk, so you’re most likely to be bit if you’re out then.
Wear long sleeves and pants in light colors: Mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors so back away from the yoga pants. Plus loose-fitting clothing may be better than snugger clothes anyway.
Treat your clothing: You can treat your clothes with a chemical called permethrin, which repels insects and lasts up to six weeks or through six washings. You can also purchase clothing that’s been pretreated with insect repellant.
Use a mosquito repellant: The CDC recommends the following as effective and safe (even for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding): DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), and 2-undecanone. Also from the CDC: insect repellent shouldn’t be used on babies under two months and OLE and PMD shouldn’t be used on children under three years.
Apply products correctly: Of course you should follow product directions when applying them—that’s a given. But this tip is a little bit different: when you need both sunscreen and insect repellant, you should apply your sunscreen first.
Cover up those babies: For babies who are too young for insect repellant, cover strollers with mosquito netting.
Turn on a fan: Apparently, mosquitoes don’t fly very well and would rather go bother someone else than deal with flying through a windstorm to get to you. (The fan also disperses all the smells and things that attract the nasty little bugs to us.) Because mosquitoes tend to fly low to the ground, a table fan or fan on the floor is the way to go, and an oscillating fan is the best type to use. Who knew?
Do you have any other tips for staying mosquito-bite-free as we finish out mosquito season? Share them in the comments!