By now you've probably heard the bad news: We're in for a buggier summer than usual. Pests that usually would have died in the cold instead spent the unseasonably warm winter months breeding and waiting to feast.
Mosquitoes can carry threatening diseases like malaria, West Nile and encephalitis, but only 29 percent of people say they fear mosquitoes for health reasons, according to a recent survey conducted by OFF! Insect Repellents. Nearly 60 percent, however, say they fear mosquitos because of the itch. Still, we're not about to let some pesky flying bugs ruin an entire summer of backyard barbecues, woodsy hikes or dips in the lake.
So what can you do to prevent bites?
Most commercial insect repellents contain one of two chemicals, DEET or picaridin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded that when these products are used according to the instructions on their labels, they are safe for both adults and children.
These conventional products offer the longest-lasting protection against mosquitoes, but concerns have been raised over allergic and other reactions to using strong chemicals on the skin.
Joseph Conlon, retired U.S. Navy entomologist and technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association tells The Huffington Post that these concerns have been "greatly overstated." He agrees that these chemicals may not be things you want to put on your infants, but says that toxicity-related reactions have been in situations where people neglected the instructions for use and over-applied repellent. "If you want to put DEET on your children, don't bathe them in it!" he says.
Still, there are more natural ways to keep mosquitoes at bay.
Avoid dusk and dawn
Avoid scented shampoos, soaps and perfumes
Burn a candle
B vitamins, specifically Vitamin B-1
Eliminate standing water
Stay close to a fan
Bug zappers don't work for mosquitoes
Lemon eucalyptus oil