PhotoWarmer temperatures might have you itching to spend more time outdoors, but seasonal pests have been known to be a bit of a buzzkill.

Bees, ticks, and mosquitos abound this time of year, bringing with them the risk of bites, stings, and insect-related disease. But homeowners can keep pesky bugs from putting a damper on their enjoyment of spring by taking steps to protect themselves. 

Preventing bug bites

Dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) say the best way to deal with bites and stings is to prevent them in the first place.

“Although most bug bites are harmless, some can spread dangerous diseases like Zika virus, dengue, Lyme disease and malaria,” said Dr. Lindsay Strowd, an assistant professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.

To protect against mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs, Strowd recommends using insect repellent containing 20 to 30 percent DEET on skin and clothing. She also suggests covering up any exposed skin by wearing long sleeves and pants.

Keeping mosquitoes at bay

Additionally, homeowners can take the following preventative measures to make their yard a less welcoming place for mosquitoes:

  • Eliminate standing water. To prevent mosquito development, remove standing and stagnant water both inside and outside your home. Empty, scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out containers that hold water once a week.
  • Enlist the help of natural predators. If you have an ornamental pond, stock it with mosquito-eating fish. Goldfish, guppies, koi, minnows, and mosquito fish eat mosquito larvae, often in large quantities. 
  • Attract bats. Bats also help control the insect population by making a meal out of them. To create a bat-friendly backyard, add a bat house or plant night-blooming flowers.
  • Use mosquito-repelling plants. Marigolds, citronella, lavender, basil, catnip, and lemon balm are just a few plants with known mosquito-repelling properties. Place these plants by windows, doors, and entertainment areas to help ward off mosquitoes.

Treating bites

Strowd notes that bug bites can happen despite our best efforts to prevent them -- but fortunately, most can be safely treated at home with anti-itch creams, ibuprofen, or ice packs. But some stings may warrant a doctor’s visit.

“If you experience any serious symptoms after a bug bite, such as a rash, fever or body aches, see your doctor or a board-certified dermatologist immediately,” said Dr. Strowd. “Make sure you tell the doctor about your recent bite so that they can examine you for a transmitted disease.”

 

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