It’s the season of warm weather, cottage country, camping trips and you guessed it….MOSQUITOES! Not to worry, all is well, Daily Mom is here to help you keep those pesky blood sucking insects at bay and let you enjoy a glorious summer.
These 170 million year old insects are transmitters of malaria, dengue fever and West Nile virus, but what’s on most peoples minds are, how do mosquitoes find us and why all the itching? The answer is quite simple; it’s all in the science. Mosquitoes thrive on CO2. Unfortunately, for those that emit high quantities of Carbon Dioxide (pregnant women are more at risk) they become an increased target for the tiny insect's meal. Mosquitoes are able to spot a source from 50 meters away with movement and heat attracting them even more. Once they've located their dinner the female mosquitoes (yes, females, as the males are plant feeders) pierces the epidermis of the skin and searches for a blood vessel to feed from, releasing an anti-coagulant saliva to keep the blood flowing until her meal is over. Once the body realizes that something foreign has entered its stream, it releases histamine to get rid of the foreign substance, which in turn causes a red bump on the skin. However, due to the blood vessels expanding, it causes the nerves around it to become irritated. The irritation is then sensed as an itch.
Now that we know what causes the itching here is what you can do to avoid them:
- Wear light colors of clothing as mosquitoes are attracted to darker, more intense colors.
- Get rid of standing water such as old tires, flower pots, wheelbarrows, barrels or tin cans that are outdoors. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in even small amounts of stagnant water.
- If you have a bird bath, change the water every other day.
- Immediately remove water that collects on pool covers.
- Make sure pool pump is circulating.
- Turn over wading pools when not in use.
- Clear leaves and twigs from eavestroughs, storm and roof gutters during the summer months.
- Make sure drainage ditches are not clogged.
- Check flat roofs frequently for standing water.
- Turn over compost frequently.
- Fill in low depressions in lawn areas.
- Clear out dense shrubbery as mosquitoes like to rest there.
- Point out potential mosquito breeding areas to your neighbors.
- and lastly use insect repellent…
Why DEET free?
Research has shown that DEET can pass through the skin and into the body and is finally released by your liver. It has also been said that it can cause neurological damage, shortness of breath, muscle and joint pain as well as other conditions.
If you are planning on using a bug repellent with DEET, make sure you wash your skin afterwards with soap and apply the product over your clothes and never under. It is also important to note that it is not recommended to use bug repellents with DEET on babies under 6 months, pregnant or nursing moms as it does pass through the bloodstream and even into the placenta.
Good news though, if you want to use a chemical free bug repellent we’ve gathered a few that we think are amazing. Both in smell and effectiveness. You might have to reapply them more times but at least you have peace of mind that you are not inhaling possibly toxic chemicals. Intelligent Nutrients Bug Repellent Perfume Serum: This non-greasy, great smelling "perfume" is not only DEET-free, but also paraben-free and non-toxic. Best part, it is USDA approved as organic.
California Baby Repellent Spray: California Baby's great line of baby bath products also has a repellent spray that is non-toxic and made from essential oils.
Honest Company Bug Spray: Sweet smelling Honest bug spray is natural and organic. We love that this product is safe like all other Honest Company products.
If, instead of buying a bug repellent, you want to make your own, we have the perfect “BUG-OFF” Repellent Recipe below:
Daily Mom’s “Bug-Off” Insect Repellent Recipe
Other oils to try: geranium, lavender, any oil from the mint family, vanilla, lemongrass, tea tree, cedar, catnip.
Once you've gathered your oils, pour in a spray bottle, shake and apply every 2 hours while you're outside.
We hope you enjoy the summer outdoors and take every precaution to keep you and your family safe!