Do you want to know how to protect yourself from mosquitoes?  The itchy bites these insects cause are not just annoying and painful.  They can also make you start worrying about mosquito borne illnesses such as EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) and West Nile Virus.  Before you close yourself in your house completely though, you can take steps to minimize your contact with mosquitoes.  So if you want to enjoy the fresh air this summer, here’s how to protect yourself from mosquitoes.

Check screens on your windows and doors.  When you’re relaxing inside in the evening, you don’t want to end up swatting at mosquitoes in your own home.  Mosquitoes can get in through holes in your screen.  A really quick fix is to put a little clear tape over the hole until you can repair or replace it. 

Empty any standing water that’s outside your doors or windows.  If you have buckets, trash barrels, flowerpots, or any other container that’s collecting rainwater, this is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  Get rid of their larva by emptying containers of rainwater, or prevent rainwater from collecting by removing containers, turning them upside down, or keeping lids on them. 

Use a mosquito trap in an area of your yard that mosquitoes are a problem.  If you have a pond, live near a lake, or have other sources of standing water that is not so easy to cover or empty, you might want to invest in a mosquito trap.  Mosquito traps or “mosquito magnets” use a chemical process that emits a scent that attracts mosquitoes along with suction that traps them in a bag like a vacuum. 

Use natural area mosquito repellents for the area you’ll be in.  Cedar patio furniture is a good choice since mosquitoes “don’t like” cedar oil.  Citronella candles can also keep mosquitoes away, but they are meant for outdoor use.

Decide on a mosquito repellent to bring with you when you’re spending time outside.  When you choose a repellent, you need to weigh health risks with the amount of time you’ll be spending outdoors.  Products that contain DEET are very effective, but can cause health problems if used for longer than indicated, and some individuals have severe side effects even with proper use.  If you select a product that advertizes it is DEET free, be sure to check how often you need to reapply it, since it does not last as long as products with DEET.  I’ve had good luck with Avon’s Skin So Soft lotion, (and lotion seems better for the skin than a bug spray) but others feel it’s less effective than actual bug sprays. 

Prioritize.  The amount of protection you use will depend on the degree of mosquito infestation, degree of health risks of mosquito borne illness in your area and season, amount of time you spend outside, and personal comfort with the preventative measures.  Decide how much protection you need, then enjoy your summer.  Good luck!

Apply spray only to exposed skin and clothing (not to skin under clothing)
Wash spray off as indicated on the directions.  This will help you avoid side effects.