Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy camping, hiking, picnics or just spending time outside, but we can’t forget to protect ourselves from warm weather insects.

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy camping, hiking, picnics or just spending time outside, but we can’t forget to protect ourselves from warm weather insects.

The warmer months are peak season for ticks and mosquitoes. Both insects can carry diseases and viruses that can be transmitted to humans.

Mosquitoes are capable of transmitting diseases, such as West Nile Virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WNV is spread from the bite of an infected mosquito. They become infected when they feed on birds carrying the virus.

Ticks, on the other hand, are capable of transmitting tick-borne spotted fevers and Lyme disease in Missouri. The CDC states that tick-borne spotted fevers and Lyme disease are spread to humans when a tick feeds on an infected mammal or bird, becomes infected and then feeds on a human. However, there are ways to reduce the chances of getting bitten.

To reduce the risk, you can purchase insect repellent at most local home improvement or lawn and garden stores. When buying topical products with DEET or Picaridin, public health officials recommend using products that contain a 10 to 30 percent concentration of DEET or 7 percent concentration of Picaridin.

It is important to note that increasing the concentration of DEET does not provide better protection, but it does provide longer protection. Higher and lower concentrations provide the same protection, but the higher means it will last longer.

Picaridin is an effective repellent, which is odorless and less likely to cause skin irritations.

Apply repellents lightly on the skin and avoid applying  on the hands to avoid the risk of getting the chemical into your eyes or mouth. This is especially important when applying on young children. Some other ways to reduce the risk of getting bit include avoiding time spent outside during dawn and dusk and covering up when you are outside. Mosquitoes are more prevalent during dusk/dawn, but if you are out during those times, cover up so your skin is not exposed.

Homeowners can take extra steps to reduce mosquitoes by following these rules:

n Reduce the amount of standing water available for breeding. Do not allow water to accumulate at the base of flower pots or in pet dishes.

n Do not store children’s plastic wading pools outside when not in use.

n Do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths and remember to aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable, but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.

n You also want to make sure that you clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.

Ticks like to live in warm, moist areas. By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of ticks in your yard:

Conduct a full-body tick check (in most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted). Remove leaf litter. Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns. Place a three-foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas. Mow the lawn frequently. Keep playground equipment, decks and patios away from yard edges and trees. Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons and stray dogs) from entering your yard by constructing fences. Remove old furniture, mattresses or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.


For more information contact the Independence Health Department at 816-325-7185.

Information provided by CDC and the Independence Health Department.