How to Keep Mosquitoes and Ticks Away
Simple strategies to keep these biters at bay, plus what to do about stinging insects
Every year, mosquitoes and ticks infect hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. with diseases—including Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and more—that can have serious consequences. The best strategy to avoid those illnesses is to use multiple layers of protection rather than just one.
Using insect repellent is obviously key, but the most effective bug avoidance requires you to take additional precautions.
“The most important thing is to avoid getting bitten in the first place,” says Rebecca Eisen, PhD, a research biologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. “Fortunately, there are really simple things you can do to protect yourself and your family.”
Your Deck and Yard
Mosquitoes: According to the CDC, an important strategy for keeping mosquitoes out of your yard is to eliminate their preferred breeding ground: standing water. Keep your gutters clean and birdbaths, old tires, wheelbarrows, and swimming pool covers free of standing water. Clear away ivy and decaying leaves, too.
As far as your deck or patio is concerned, some repellent products work much better than others. Several years ago our testers tried out two area repellents—citronella candles and a battery-powered diffuser that blows out geraniol—and found they were ineffective at keeping mosquitoes away. An oscillating pedestal fan did much better. When set on high, it cut mosquito landings by 45 to 65 percent for the people sitting close to it.
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Sawyer Insect Repellent is a versatile picaridin spray recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as safe and effective for most people. Our testers liked the evaporating smell and how the spray feels once it dries.
Insects and arachnids that bite in self-defense instead of to feed -- such as yellow jackets, bees, wasps, hornets, certain ants or spiders -- cannot be repelled with insect repellents.
The number of bug-borne diseases is increasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the number of places they're spreading to is also on the rise.
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