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There is a risk of mosquito bite every time you enter a forest or work in and around the woods. In addition to being uncomfortable, mosquito bites can cause illnesses which include several types of encephalitis, dengue and yellow fever, malaria, and West Nile virus. The actual bite comes from the female who feeds in the evening and at night.
Late summertime is usually peak mosquito season but can happen any time conditions become optimal. Wet weather and high humidity during a period of warm weather rapidly increase mosquito populations, especially where there are standing pools of water.
Obviously, more insects generate more bites and a greater likelihood of the spread of disease.
Annual West Nile virus outbreaks are associated with large populations of mosquitos. You do need to be aware of potential health issues in your location and be able to prevent mosquito bites. But don't worry too much. In reality, according to mosquito expert Dr. Andrew Spielman, "your chances of getting a disease is one in a million."
So the good news is that human illness from West Nile virus and other diseases are rare in North America, even in areas where the virus has been reported. The chance that any one person is going to become ill from a mosquito bite is low. The bad news is if you work or play in the woods your chances for bites go up which increases your exposure to mosquito-borne disease.
10 Mosquito Bite Protection Tips
Here are ten tips to help you reduce the risk of mosquito bites:
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) when you're outdoors.
- Wear loose fitting clothes to help prevent mosquitoes from reaching the skin and to retain less heat.
- Whenever possible, wear long-sleeved clothes, socks and long pants.
- In a forest, wear clothing that helps you blend in with the background. Mosquitoes hone in on color contrast and movement.
- Treat your clothes with permethrin repellents. Do not use permethrins on your skin!
- Avoid perfumes, colognes, fragrant hair sprays, lotions and soaps which attract mosquitoes.
- Reduce your risk of exposure by staying indoors during peak mosquito feeding hours (from dusk until dawn).
- Avoid lingering in places where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Usually, this is around standing water.
- Spray a pyrethrin into the air when confined to a certain outside area.
- Taking vitamin B, garlic, eating bananas, constructing bat houses and hanging insect "zappers" are not effective against mosquitoes.
Natural Mosquito Repellents
Some of these tips are heavily dependent on using chemicals that have been safety tested and approved for human use. Still, there are times you might prefer to use natural mosquito repellents and practices that limit insect exposure.
Avoid outside activities that increase skin temperature, skin moisture, and sweating. Also avoid strong fruity or floral fragrances and clothing with extreme color contrasts.
Consider using natural volatile plant oils. Oils in this category include citrus, cedar, eucalyptus and citronella. These oils can be used safely both on the skin or released as a smoke. They can be enhanced when several are used at the same time.