No matter where you are in the country, summer is clearly on its way. And not a moment too soon — especially if you just survived a brutal winter. It’s warming up, flowers are blooming, and insects are everywhere.
The ladybugs and all they represent are universally charming. But the biting ones do more than just bug us. Rates of insect-borne illnesses like Lyme disease and West Nile virus are on the rise. Getting swarmed? Before you reach for a harsh bug spray, why not try a safer prevention measure? Try these tips.
1. Protect delicate skin with long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks.
Choose light-colored solids; insects are attracted to patterns and contrasts.
2. To stop ticks, tuck long pants into your socks and avoid tall grass and underbrush.
Keep your lawn cut short. Do a full body check once indoors.
3. Stay indoors.
Not all the time, but particularly at dusk and dawn, which are peak times for mosquito activity.
4. Keep your screens in good repair.
If mosquitoes still get indoors, use netting over beds.
5. Keep outdoor meals safe.
You can do this by using a fan to discourage mosquitoes.
6. Plant mosquito-repelling plants.
These include scented geraniums, lemon thyme, marigold, tansy, citrosa plants, sweet basil and/or sassafras near your home.
7. Eliminate the standing water mosquitoes need to reproduce.
Think old tires, kiddie pools, plastic pots, buckets, garbage cans, clogged gutters, etc. Change birdbath water frequently.
8. Encourage natural predators.
There are plenty to choose from: ladybugs, bats, dragonflies, praying mantis, spiders, and birds. Stock ponds with fish — they’ll eat mosquito larvae.
9. Use yellow light bulbs in outdoor fixtures.
They aren’t as attractive to bugs.
10. Use unscented products.
Fragrances draw insects.
11. Choose nontoxic repellents.
No matter what you do, however, you're still likely to get bitten or stung this summer. When that happens, reach for these natural home remedies:
- Tea tree oil is great for stings. Remove the stinger and gently apply it around the entry point.
- Baking soda works, too. Mix it with water to form a paste. Remove the stinger, apply the paste, and cover until pain is gone.
- Yellow onion contains sulfur compounds that relieve bug bite itches. Slice one in half and rub the cut side on the bite. Refrigerate leftovers and make a fresh slice before reapplying.
- Vinegar helps all kinds of bites. Tape a soaked cotton ball over the bite overnight.
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