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The Top Seven Not-So-Obvious Ways To Protect Yourself From Mosquito Bites

As Florida’s humidity and summer rain patterns return, so too do mosquitoes. Miami-Dade County has ramped up mosquito control preparations to brace for the impact of another season of Zika.  We can all join in and fight the bite of mosquitoes by simply doing the obvious: use repellant and avoid mosquito-thick areas. But beyond these simple recommendations, here are seven tips that may offer additional protection from bites.

  1. Cover your skin, ditch the dark spandex and go loose. Active wear is daily wear for some; however, this type of clothing provides little barrier to a mosquito’s proboscis. Skin-tight clothes make your skin an easier target for mosquitoes. Opt for light clothing, a loose long-sleeved cotton shirt, long pants or a maxi skirt.  If your clothing is too tight, a mosquito may be able to sink its teeth through.
  1. Change your workout routine and workout indoors. Many exercise enthusiasts will take to the outdoors in the wee morning hours just before sunrise or just before dinner at dusk to avoid the sun and heat. These are peak feeding times for mosquitoes.  A mosquito’s keen sense of smell can detect you easily with each exhale and will find you because they’re attracted to movement, heat and sweat.
  1. Stay clear of standing water. You can usually find mosquitoes hanging out around water because that’s where they lay their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, they go through a larva and pupa stage before developing into adults.  If you want to keep mosquitoes away, eliminate all standing water from your yard.  This means getting rid of old tires, buckets, bird baths, and regularly emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, pool covers, pet water dishes and anything else that can store water.
  1. Apply repellent to clothes AND skin. Repellents are not just meant for exposed skin. They should be applied directly to your clothing.  Make sure you are using Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.  Read directions and apply insect repellent correctly as you should apply sunscreen before repellent, not on top of it.
  1. Protect your home from mosquitoes; examine outdoor structures and seal any leaks. Outdoor sheds or garages are common areas for mosquitoes which means they can easily fly into your home. Placing a mesh screen over all doors and windows will help keep mosquitoes out, but still allow fresh air in.  Be sure to check older screens for any tears or holes.  Although a screen can help keep mosquitoes from entering through an open window, your home may have other leaks or cracks that should also be sealed.
  1. Clean up neighboring properties and control vegetation. If your neighborhood has abandoned lots or areas where water can collect, consider organizing a neighborhood clean-up. Some mosquito species travel a short distance and some travel for many miles, making it important to think about mosquito breeding areas beyond your own fence.  Additionally, mosquitoes hate a tidy lawn as they prefer hanging out around overgrown vegetation, so try your best to mow your lawn regularly.  Getting into the habit of keeping a well-groomed yard will go a long way to reducing the amount of mosquitoes around your home.
  1. Avoid getting too hot this summer. This advice is especially important here in South Florida which is known for its hot and humid climate. Mosquitoes are thought to be attracted to warm bodies so staying cool is one way to avoid bites.  Carbon dioxide, one of the gasses you exhale, can be smelled by mosquitoes even at relatively long distances which also puts pregnant women at an increased risk, as they produce a greater-than-normal amount of carbon dioxide.

Scientists and lawmakers are hard at work against mosquitoes, with measures to eradicate certain species that carry disease.  Regardless, we must remain vigilant, use the obvious measures, as well as the suggested tips.

Above content provided by Miami-Dade County.

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