The bugs of summer and how to deal with them

Brian Stites
Brian Stites
Published on July 17, 2019

Right about now, many of us are feeling as if summer is one big bug fest. If you’ve spent any time at all outdoors, you know what we’re talking about.

From grilling to hiking to even walking the dog, summer bugs are everywhere. Yes, they’re pesky, but even more important is that they put us at risk for bug-borne diseases.

Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are the biggest culprits. Known as “vectors,” these insects spread the pathogens that cause West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and other “vector-borne” diseases.

“Disease cases from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016,”

according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

So, how can we avoid these pests while enjoying summertime in the great outdoors? Read on.

Protect yourself

When hiking, it’s easy to be distracted by a view or wildlife and common to want to blaze your own trail to get a better look.

It’s not wise, however. Experts recommend that you remain in the middle of trails when hiking or jogging. Ticks are especially notorious for hiding in tall grass and other vegetation.

Don’t use perfume, cologne or lotions and soaps with fragrance before heading out to enjoy the outdoors (these scents may attract mosquitoes). Wear the appropriate, protective clothing This includes:

  • Shirt with long sleeves
  • Long pants
  • Socks (that can be tucked under the pants to protect the skin from ticks)
  • Boots

Consider spraying your outdoor wear with a permethrin-based insect repellent. The CDC does not recommend that you use repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.

Before entering your home after a day outdoors, check all family members and pets for ticks. If you find one, remove it right away. Learn how to safely remove a tick and aftercare instructions at CDC.gov.

Right in your own backyard

Deer are the favorite host of the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), carrier of the dreaded Lyme disease.

“More than 14,000 cases [of Lyme disease] are reported annually,”

according to the experts at National Geographic. “Adult deer ticks, they continue, “are about the size of a sesame seed.”

If deer are common visitors to your neighborhood, discourage them from coming into your yard. You can do this by removing vegetation that is attractive to deer. Some of the plants that are popular among deer include:

  • Honey locust
  • Plum, apple, pear, persimmon and crabapple trees
  • White and red oak
  • Hickory and pecan trees
  • Eastern red cedar
  • Raspberries or blackberries

Plant fragrant plants (deer avoid anything highly fragrant) such as lavender, sage and salvia. “Daffodils, foxgloves, and poppies are common flowers that have a toxicity that deer avoid,” according to Catherine Boeckmann at Almanac.com.

Ticks may also take up residence in the lawn, so keep it debris-free by raking up dead leaves and mowing the lawn to keep it as short as possible.

If you’re still finding ticks and mosquitos in your yard after taking the previous steps, consider spraying it with a tick and mosquito control product.

Following these tips can help keep mosquitoes, ticks and other insects away for a bug-free summer.

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