According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mosquito-caused disease incidents in the United States tripled from 2004 to 2016. More than ever before, families are concerned about getting bit by mosquitoes and perhaps contracting a disease from the bite like Zika or West Nile. We have some important tips and resources for you to help protect your family from mosquitoes.
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Most Current CDC Maps
Here is a link to the most current CDC maps of where are the major mosquito-borne (also called vector-borne) disease problems in the U.S. It’s interactive. You select “Human” and “Mosquito” and then click on the disease above to see what has been reported in past years and this up to the previous month. It won’t be completely accurate due to lack of reporting, but it can give you the indication of how much of a problem mosquito-borne diseases could be in your area. If you click on the previous year, you can see what the final reporting in all states was for that year which can give you an overall prediction of what might happen this year.
For example, this is a snapshot of 2018’s West Nile Virus reporting — dark green is human-disease cases, whereas light green is non-human infections (animals).
Use Repellent — But Choose Wisely and Apply Carefully
According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), here are the guidelines for choosing an insect repellent. Look for these insect-repelling ingredients:
To protect your family from mosquitoes, says EWG:
DEET’s safety profile is better than many people assume. It has a long history of use, is very effective in reducing bites and has minimal safety concerns. DEET isn’t a perfect choice, nor the only choice. But weighed against the consequences of a life-changing disease, such as West Nile virus, we believe it is a reasonable choice.
You want to only use the repellent carefully, and only on your exposed skin and clothes. SC Johnson’s Institute of Insect Science for Family Health says —
To use repellent on your face, apply it to your hands first, and then distribute it over your face and neck. Avoid contact with your eyes, lips and ears. After application, wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap. Never spray or rub the product over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
Additionally, it is also important for the application of personal insect repellents on children to be supervised by an adult. Review the product label for information about child age usage restrictions and be sure to follow the directions for application and use. Start by spraying or applying cream to your own hands first, then apply it to the child.
Remove Mosquito Breeding Areas Outside
Protecting your family from mosquitoes also is about preventing them from breeding and taking up residency. Look around your outside property for any standing water and empty it out, because standing water breeds mosquitoes. Even a soda cap of water can breed some types of mosquitoes.
Also, outdoor plants may help to repel mosquitoes. You could look into integrating them onto your property or on your patio’s pots. Here are a few recommendations:
- Best Plants recommends 31 plants including, basil, bee balm, catnip, garlic, lavender, and eucalyptus
- Natural Living Ideas has a list of 11 fragrant plants that might help, among which are citronella and marigolds
- Wide Open Country says in its list of 9 repelling plants that peppermint has a distinct aroma that mosquitoes don’t like
If you feel you cannot get outdoor mosquitoes under control, you can call your local pest control to see what options are available. However, take care that the option you choose does not harm pollinators, pets, or humans and would be the least toxic option overall — ask lots of questions before you sign off on chemicals for your surroundings.