Mosquitoes can be quite annoying, especially in the hot summer months when they seem to swarm around the swimming pool! Some people seem to be more affected than others, and some areas are more prone to mosquitoes than others might be. What can you do to banish those little blood suckers? Is there any way to get relief? They are relentless in the muggy summer months, their bites itch and sting, and they can carry illnesses with them that can make you and your pets really sick. If you live in an mosquito infested area, here’s why you should be concerned: Mosquitoes can spread several illnesses to both humans and animals.
Malaria and West Nile Virus are two of the most common mosquito-borne illnesses for humans. Both are very serious, but you can carry the disease with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In some cases with West Nile, you may have no symptoms at all. Malaria is commonly found in people who have traveled outside the USA, or have lived abroad for a time.
For pets, the biggest concern with mosquito-borne illnesses is heartworms. The mosquitoes can carry the larvae with them and transfer them to the animal, even if they don’t actually bite. Heartworms can cause anything from difficulty breathing to fainting and vomiting in dogs. There are treatment meds out there, but prevention is the key with heartworms.
So, how do you keep the mosquitoes away so you can protect your family and pets? Here are some tried and true methods to ward of mosquito attacks this summer.
Commercial Bug Sprays
These can be purchased just about anywhere. The main ingredient in many of these is DEET, which is a chemical that has gotten a really bad rap. Some don’t think it’s safe to use, especially on kids, but most of the time the concentration is low enough in these repellent sprays that it is okay to use occasionally. DEET also repels ticks and chiggers, so a spray with DEET may be your best bet in the woods or if you are outdoors a lot. Some would say that the risk of a low amount of DEET definitely outweighs the risks to your health from these mosquito-borne illnesses. You can also find repellent wipes or wristbands using DEET if you don’t like sprays.
Citronella Candles or Torches
If you spend a lot of time on the porch or patio in the summer months, these are a must. Citronella is a proven mosquito repellent – and using candles or torches made with it can help keep them away. Try placing several large candles around your porch, or lining the edge of your patio with torches to ward them off.
Did you know there are several plants you can put in your yard, flowerbeds, or in pots that will keep mosquitoes away? Try marigolds, lemon balm, horse mint, or catnip.
This is a great natural way to keep the bugs away. Mosquitoes hate the smell of certain ones – and you can create an oil blend that will work on everyone in the family, including the dogs and cats! Some to try: lemon, lavender, clove, peppermint, basil, and geranium. You can mix them into a spray bottle, make a roller ball with the oils and carrier oil, or use a diffuser to disperse the oils. Check with your vet to see which oils are pet safe, though, before applying them to your pets.
Avoid mosquito-prone times of day. The worst times for mosquitoes to be out are right at dawn and dusk. If you can, avoid being out during those times or if you can’t avoid it, cover as much skin as possible and use repellent.
Finally, don’t leave standing water around on your property if you can help it – this means dump kiddie pools or buckets when kids are done playing, don’t let water stand in empty garbage cans, or make sure they have good drainage holes. Mosquitoes love standing water so don’t give them a vacation spot if you can help it.
Being prepared for mosquitoes ahead of peak season is key – having the right supplies on hand can definitely prevent bites, swarming, and in turn, those awful diseases carried by them. You may find that using a combination of the repellent methods above works better than using one by itself. I have had great success with essential oils, commercial sprays, and citronella candles. We keep bug spray stocked in the summer – you never know when you might need it!
How do you keep the mosquitoes away? Do you have another trick to avoid their itchy bites?