With spring and summer come pesky insects ready to take a bite out of your next ballgame or BBQ.
Each year, over 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC, yet the actual number of cases may be as high as 140,000, making it the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S.1
While there’s risk of catching Lyme disease in every state, the highest concentrations are in the northeast from Maine down to Virginia, and in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Ticks aren’t the only disease-carrying insect. Mosquitos spread illnesses including EEE and West Nile Virus.
Prevent Mosquito and Tick Bites
Take these steps to protect your family from mosquito and tick bites:
1. Apply insect repellent that contains DEET
According to the EPA, DEET is the most common insecticide applied directly to the skin to prevent mosquito and tick bites. They recommend adults apply DEET lotions and ointments to children, avoiding their hands, eyes and mouths.
2. Drain Stagnant Water
Mosquitos breed in stagnant water, so draining wheelbarrows, plant pots, bird baths and pool covers removes insects’ ability to multiply on your property.
3. Check Local and State Government Websites for Free Insecticide Application
Some regions qualify for free aerial or truck-mounted ground spraying. Homes bordering conservation land or wetlands can also qualify.
4. Hire a Professional Tick and Mosquito Service
Private tick and mosquito spray companies can visit your property every 14 to 21 days to spray on a barrier treatment. Many offer chemical-based insecticides, as well as organic sprays that are safer for pets and toddlers.
5. Wear Clothing with Insect Repellent Built-In
Major outdoor brands offer repellent-saturated clothing designed to protect the wearer from insect bites for up to 20 washings. Place a repellent-treated shirt, hoodie or hat near your door to throw on at dusk or when you’re out in the woods.
6. Conduct Tick Checks
Check your family from head-to-toe after outdoor activities for signs of insect bites. Lyme disease can present visually with a round bullseye on the skin. Seek immediate medical treatment when a bullseye appears, since Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics before it becomes severe.
7. Consider Insect-Repelling Plantings
If your household isn’t allergic, The Farmer’s Almanac recommends planting lemon grass, lemon thyme, lemon balm, rosemary, garlic, basil and catnip for their oils that aid in repelling mosquitos. Oils are released when plant leaves are crushed.