Don’t Let the Bugs Bug You
The trail has hazards that come in all shapes and sizes, but one of them is a mostly unseen, often winged threat that can bring your trip to a screeching halt. Mosquitos, ticks, fleas, chiggers – they all thrive in the great outdoors. During these warm months of the year, it’s easy to be selected special of the day (or night) on a bug’s menu.
If you’re prone to bites, you probably have an arsenal of sprays, lotions, and nets to combat them. There are basic guidelines to follow like avoiding standing water where mosquitos congregate and tucking pant legs into socks and shoes while walking in places with ticks. Additionally, there are foods you can eat to make yourself a less desirable target and myths about the right foods to eat. Here are some resources to help steer clear of being the victim of snacking bugs.
Spray to Save the Day
Taking triage on bites, the ones to worry most about come from mosquitos and ticks. Insect repellents prevent mosquitoes from spreading West Nile virus and ticks from transmitting Rocky Mountain fever and Lyme disease. A good rule of thumb is to choose a spray with 20-30% DEET and be sure to read and follow labeled instructions. DEET can irritate children’s skin, so levels shouldn’t exceed 30%. Only spray on exposed skin and don’t spray directly to your face, but to your hands first and then rub the liquid in.
What if citronella candles came in bracelets? They do. I personally swear by these and wear them on my wrists and ankles to discourage bugs. Twilight in the great outdoors can be brutal without bug bracelets. There are different brands and I’ve had success with Bug Off! bracelets. The flexible, coiled bracelets have a mighty powerful scent, but the good thing is they can be used over again because they retain their citronella smell. And there are even ones custom made for kids.
Foods and Natural Repellents
Garlic can be a mild protectant in keeping mosquitos at bay because it’s emitted through your skin. Foods higher in potassium like bananas and potatoes tend to attract mosquitos. Better to reach for apples, watermelon or blueberries that are lower in potassium. Pineapple supposedly wards off mosquitos, but this is a myth. In fact, experts agree that nothing you eat makes you more or less attractive to mosquitos.
Natural repellants include peppermint oil, rosemary oil, lemon eucalyptus oil and catnip oil. Menthol naturally occurs in mint oils like peppermint and mentholated petroleum jelly applied to ankles, wrists and shoulders can repel mosquitos. Another good guideline is to avoid overheating because mosquitos flock to warm bodies.
Don’t Forget the Pets
After your dogs and cats have been outdoors, it’s always a good idea to examine for ticks and fleas. DEET works wonders on humans, but should never be used on pets. K9 Adnantix II made by Bayer Animal Health wards off fleas, mosquitos, and ticks, but isn’t for use on cats. Cats are much more complicated because of their metabolism and grooming habits. It’s best to consult with your vet before getting a repellent to use on your cat.