How to Protect Yourself From Mosquitoes and Ticks

As we approach the warmer summer months, many of us will spend a great deal of time outdoors, walking at the park and hiking in the woods. Don’t let mosquito and tick bites ruin your fun.


While most bug bites are harmless, some mosquitoes and ticks spread viruses and bacteria that can make you sick. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 643,000 cases of 16 insect-borne illnesses were reported between 2004 and 2016, many of those caused by mosquitoes (Zika, West Nile Virus) and by ticks (Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever).


Here are five ways to protect yourself:


1) Cover Up
If you are going into the woods or into grassy areas, you should cover up, even if it is warm out. Wear long pants, long sleeves, closed-toe shoes, and socks. Tuck your pants into  your socks, and wear light colored clothing so it will be easier to notice ticks on clothing.


2) Remove Standing Water
Mosquitoes breed in stagnant, standing water. Rid your yard of empty flower pots, bird baths, and other objects where water can accumulate.


3) Use Insect Repellent
Use a repellent that contains at least 20 percent of DEET, picaridin, or IR3535, and that lasts several hours. Remember to always follow product instructions. Parents should apply products to their children and avoid applying repellent to hands, or near eyes and mouths.


4) Check Yourself & Take a Shower
Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Adults should check children and be sure to search under the arms, in and around the ears, as well as behind the knees and in hair. Take a shower within two hours of being outside to wash away ticks. If you find a tick that’s embedded in the skin, use pointy tweezers to remove it. View video of tick removal here. If you develop a rash, especially at the site of a possible tick bite, see a doctor. Other symptoms of Lyme disease include flu-like symptoms.


5) Dry Clothes
Ticks require moisture to survive. It is a good idea to put your clothes in the dryer on high heat after working in a garden or taking a hike—it is an effective way to kill ticks.