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How to prevent bug bites

Vicki Clinebell majored in journalism at the University of Colorado, and headed an advertising agency before beginning a long career in broadcasting, spanning production and copywriting to sales and management for an ABC affiliate statio...

Bug off!

Helpful strategies and preventative measures will keep you from becoming the target of bug bites!

Don't let insect bites bug you this summer! Some bug bites cause itching and leave you scratching, while others can send you to the doctor's office or hospital because of an allergic reaction or an infection. Before you head for the wilderness -- or your own backyard -- learn a few strategies that will help you prevent insect bites.

Prevention

Timing

Timing isn't everything, but most flying insects are likely to strike at dawn and dusk. These would be good times to stay indoors to avoid biting bugs.

Yard maintenance

Keep your yard a bug-free zone with some simple maintenance. Spread a 3-foot patch of wood chips between your lawn and a wooded area to deter ticks: they are unable to navigate over the chips! Never leave standing water in your yard -- it provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Water in birdbaths, pooling up in clogged gutters or in your pet's water dish are susceptible. Clean the birdbath and add fresh water once a week, unclog the gutters and give your pet fresh, clean water every day.

Colors & fabrics

Did you know that bees, yellow jackets and wasps can see the ultraviolet spectrum in bright colors? Floral patterns and bright colors attract them, making it more likely that you'll get stung. Wear lighter colors outside. Yellow and blue are especially attractive colors to these bugs! And dark clothing attracts more mosquitoes than neutral colors like beige. You can dress for success -- success in thwarting hungry insects! The key is to choose clothing that helps you blend in rather than stand out. Gnats and mosquitoes have a natural tendency to swarm to the highest part of the body, so holding a branch above your head will divert a swarm upwards. If you are taking an infant outdoors, drape mosquito netting over the carrier to protect the baby. There are outdoor apparel companies that manufacture special clothing with fabric treated with Permanone, a chemical that the EPA says is safe for humans but deadly for bugs. When insects land on this fabric, they absorb the active ingredient (called permethrin) and eventually die. This special fabric was originally developed as an alternative to tropical repellents and is available at specialty outdoor stores and L.L. Bean.

Sippin' pretty

When you're sitting on your porch or patio, sip iced tea or wine instead of beer or soda. Bugs are attracted to the carbonation in beverages!

Laws of attraction

Some people seem to attract more bugs than others. Entomologists say this is because of every person's unique odor and how much we breathe and sweat. Mosquitoes use carbon dioxide and lactic acid in sweat to find us! Your body chemistry may attract more insects to you than to the people sitting with you. Some of us are just unlucky and will attract more pests.

More helpful tips

Lyme disease

How to treat insect bites

Lyme disease risk map

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