Summer is just around the corner for the DMV, which means mosquito season will also be here before we know it. The U.S. is home to more than 150 mosquito varieties, and in the midst of growing fears of the Zika virus, now is the perfect time to amp up your mosquito-fighting arsenal.
Use these five tips to reduce your risk of being bitten by the pesky bugs.
1) Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET and be sure to follow the directions.
DEET is the chemical compound responsible for repelling bugs in many bug sprays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using products with at least 20 percent DEET concentration for the best protection.
Some consumers have questioned the safety of DEET, but a 2014 review by the EPA found the chemical poses no health risk as long as users carefully follow the instructions printed on bug spray containers.
2) Try using a bug spray with natural ingredients.
Some plant-based sprays may also be effective for fighting off bites. The CDC says products that include oil of lemon eucalyptus can be a more natural remedy for some, for example. Use the EPA's bug spray search tool to find mosquito-repellent products that include specific ingredients
3) Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Summer in the DMV means outrageous heat and humidity, but wearing a lightweight long-sleeved top and a pair of pants for a day outdoors could save you from a lot of itching later on.
4) Spray your clothing with permethrin.
Permethrin spray practically creates a forcefield between you and mosquitos, as well as some other insects. You can purchase permethrin-treated clothing at outdoors stores, or do it yourself at home. The spray helps prevent bugs from even landing on your clothes, and the treatment can withstand several machine washes.
5) Avoid having containers of standing water inside or outside your home.
Standing water is the ideal nesting ground for mosquitos. It's especially important to empty containers of standing water outdoors, such as in kiddie pools and flower pot saucers, but consider containers in your home, too. For example, the water in vases should be changed on a regular and frequent basis.