Skeeters and Ticks and Bugs! How to Fight Bug-Borne Issues in the Summer
By Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed. – Positively Green –
It’s time to get outside and enjoy the fantastic weather that is certainly coming our way. Hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, fishing, walking, swimming, and more are all ready and waiting for your family to take complete advantage of in the coming weeks and months ahead. But before you head out into the woods or take to the water, your family should have a plan to fight off those unwelcome summer pests- bugs!
Being outside, it’s absolutely impossible to completely eliminate all chance of being bitten by an insect- that’s just the way it is when you enjoy being outdoors. However, some bug bites can be merely irritating to seriously dangerous, so it’s important to minimize your exposure to bites of all kinds. Your “anti-insect program’ may have different plans for family members of different ages, so it’s important to think ahead for everyone’s protection.
The first option is wearing lightweight clothing that has full sleeves and legs. If insects don’t have access to skin, they can’t bite. For people who choose not to utilize insect repellents of any kind or for young children who cannot use repellents, this may be an option. Many camping supply stores or hiking specialty stores carry lightweight summer clothing that provides full coverage against sun and insects. Full coverage clothing is especially useful in dawn and dusk times, when bugs are very active and the warm summer sun isn’t at its full strength. Use long sleeves and pants to protect yourself on an early morning walk or around the family campfire.
Another option in the fight against bug bites is a more naturally-based repellent. Oils from many different plants are said to offer protection from bugs, and there are many commercially prepared products made from these oils. The success of these products is often hotly debated, and their effectiveness may be related to the kinds of bugs in your area. You may have to try several different kinds before finding one that works for your family. Read local blogs and independent product reviews before ordering for hints at effectiveness.
Finally, for people who spend a great deal of time outdoors, chemical insect repellents may be the only reliable choice. Just as with natural methods, chemical repellents come in a variety of formulas and with many different ingredients. One of the most common ingredients is the repellent DEET which is very effective, but which some people find objectionable because of its chemical composition. Whichever chemical spray is used, it is important that the spray is washed off with soap and water after use and that steps are taken to insure that it is not on anyone’s hands when they are eating.
Most people agree that you should take steps to prevent insect bites as much as realistically possible during outdoor recreation. However, how you do this best for your family can be a combination of tactics depending on individuals’ needs and your location. Have questions or concerns about methods that are right for your family? Sources of information can include your family physician, local board of health agent, and outdoor recreation specialists in your area. They will have experience and knowledge to help guide you in the best prevention plan possible.
It’s a great time of year to get outdoors and it’s the perfect season to enjoy being outside with your family. By taking a few precautions, you can have an active outdoor lifestyle with minimal impact from insects! Get out and have fun in the world that’s turning Positively Green!
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