How To Stay Bite-Free

Smiling happy parents and son having picnic in park.
Picnics, barbecues and other summer soirees—so much to look forward to this summer! But as you take the festivities outdoors, make sure that you’re not one of the tasty menu items.

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According to Joe Conlon, a medical entomologist and the technical advisor to the American Mosquito Control Association, mosquito bites, for the most part, are just annoying. But he says, especially in certain parts of the country, they can be more dangerous. “Being infected with a mosquito-borne disease is definitely an issue, even in the United States, as West Nile virus has taught us,” he says. Yikes!

So how can you stay bite-free this summer?

Time Your Activities Right. If possible, schedule your activities to avoid the times when mosquitoes are most active, usually dawn and dusk.

Keep Cool.Keeping a deck or porch mosquito-free is quite easy, according to Conlon. “Strategically placed floor fans providing a breeze across the area of concern will serve to keep the mosquitoes at bay,” he says. “Mosquitoes are weak fliers, and will not be able to navigate properly against or within the airstream.”

Dress wisely. Dress in light colored, loose-fitting clothing. Close-weave is the best to prevent biting, but layered loose-weave works almost as well.

Try DEET. According to Conlin, DEET remains the standard by which all other repellents are judged; it’s effective against mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers, fleas and ticks. But make sure you apply it correctly! If it’s not working, it’s probably because your misapplied it—or need to reapply. When it comes to choosing a brand, look for one that has 30% DEET for adults. Ask your pediatrician about the best choice for your child; Conlin says most recommend no more that 10% DEET and do not recommend DEET for babies under two months old.

Two of Colin’s other recommendations: Cutter Advanced, which contains an ingredient called picaridin, which, he says says, is odorless, has a pleasant feel and doesn’t plasticize like DEET. For a natural product, try oil of lemon-eucalyptus, sold as Repel.