Healthy Living – 5 tips to avoid bug bites while enjoying warming weather

Warming spring weather makes many people eager to participate in favorite outdoor activities. More time outside, however, means increased encounters with mosquitoes and ticks. 

To protect against mosquito and tick-borne diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using an insect repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. These repellents contain ingredients that are specifically designed to ward off insects and protect humans from being bitten. 

Before using an insect repellent, always check the application instructions and warnings. The formula may not be safe for use on young children, or for people with certain preexisting conditions. Listed below are holistic approaches to lessen the incidence of bites by mosquitoes and ticks.

1. Be aware of your surroundings

Encounters with ticks and mosquitoes increase depending on where you are. Mosquitoes frequent areas with damp, standing water. If you are in a heavily wooded area with thick, tall grass, be prepared to encounter ticks. Stick to established trails or clear areas to best avoid journeying ticks.

Always complete a thorough full-body check after being outside. Don’t skip out on checking your scalp or between your toes, where ticks can hide. The CDC recommends checking under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, the back of the knees, in and around the hair, between the legs and around the waist.

2. Wear long clothing, or light-colored clothing

Covering extremities is a reliable way to prevent mosquitoes and ticks from penetrating your skin. Keeping a light jacket in the back of your car will prepare you for encounters with mosquitoes during the evening hours and in wetland areas, where they are most prevalent.

Wearing light colors also makes it easier to spot ticks, which tend to be black, brown, or reddish, and stand out against light-colored clothing. 

3. Scents as natural repellents 

Certain smells irritate mosquitoes, keeping them at bay. These scents also happen to be very pleasant to people, though, such as lavender, lemon grass and tea tree oil. 

Natural repellents can be used in the form of extracted oils applied to the body or by burning scented candles. You can also plant lemon grass and lavender around your outdoor living space to help ward off these pests. 

Herbs and essential oils can also be used, as directed, on pets to help prevent bites. Planting rose geranium, sweetgrass and citronella can help reduce the presence of ticks in your yard. 

The Farmer’s Almanac lists a simple recipe for tick repellant that smells refreshing: 

   9 drops citronella essential oil
   6 drops tea tree essential oil
   6 drops peppermint essential oils
   1 tablespoon almond oil or jojoba oil

4. Shower after being outdoors

Bathing within two hours of being outdoors helps wash off unattached ticks looking for a spot to latch on. It will also give you a chance to give yourself another full-body check. 

Using soap or shampoo with any of the essential oils listed above is also a useful method to repel any lingering insects. 

5. Put clothing in the dryer for 10 minutes

After an outing, place your worn clothing in the dryer for 10-15 minutes. The high, dry heat will kill ticks. 

If the clothing requires washing, use a lint roller prior to washing and set the water temperature to approximately 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to use dry heat following this protocol, as it is the most effective way to kill ticks.

Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native,  NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris –


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