Prevent Insect Bites for a Happier Fourth of July
Fireworks, flags, and freedom. The Fourth of July is a truly amazing way to celebrate our history as a nation. Today, we come together over the simple things that define American life. We share food fresh from the grill with our friends and family. We crack open frosty beers and pass the time together, staying out past dark to experience the breathtaking displays of light and sound in the sky.
Unfortunately, staying out during dusk and early evening in the summer means that you could end up being dinner for a swarm of hungry mosquitoes and ticks. Right around the time the first fireworks start to go off is the peak feeding time for these bloodthirsty bugs. If you don’t know how to prevent insect bites, you might end up swatting and itching all night, which could diminish your enjoyment of the night’s festivities.
With the transmission of vector-borne illness on the rise, taking steps to prevent insect bites is not only a way to deal with an annoyance: it’s a way of protecting your health and safety. Follow these tips to have a bug-free Fourth of July.
1. Use Repellents
Insect repellents that can be applied directly to the skin offer broad protection from a variety of insect species. This is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from irritating bites and potentially dangerous diseases. There are a number of repellents commercially available, but we suggest sticking with DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and treating your clothing with Permethrin. All of these repellents are proven to be effective and are registered with the EPA. Check out our article The Complete Guide to Insect Repellent for an in-depth look at each repellent, and a table to see which is right for you.
2. Dress for Prevention
Don’t spray repellent under your clothing. It might seem like another layer of protection, but repellents aren’t effective unless they’re on exposed skin or the outside of your clothing.
Tuck your clothing in to prevent insect bites. Tucking your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks can prevent ticks and mosquitoes from getting contact with your skin.
Wear loose clothing to reduce bites. Mosquitoes can bite through fabric, but leaving space between the fabric and your skin can make you too hard to reach.
Wear light colors. Make it easier to spot ticks that land on your clothing. This allows you to brush them away before they get a chance to attach.
3. Other Strategies
Get candles and diffusers with herbal additives like citronella, geraniol, or linalool can help to keep flying insects at bay. Geraniol and linalool are generally more effective than citronella.
Use a fan to help prevent insect bites. According to Consumer Reports, an oscillating fan can help reduce landings of mosquitoes on a host by 60-65%. This is mostly effective near the fan, so you may consider setting up an area close by for people to seek relief from bites if necessary. You may consider an awesome portable fan for use while camping that could help.
Check for ticks as soon as you get home. Use a full-length mirror to inspect your body, while paying special attention to places that are often dark and moist. Check below the hairline on your neck, under your arms and between your legs.
Wash up. Take a shower and wash your clothing to remove repellents as well as any stragglers that may have come home with you.
Avoid scratching your bites. This will only irritate and potentially damage your skin, and it doesn’t make you feel any better. If the urge to itch is too strong, try a topical remedy like After Bite to help soothe the need to scratch.
Following these tips will help you prevent insect bites and the vector-borne illnesses they can transmit. While it’s most important to protect your health while spending time outdoors, a major bonus of following our insect protection guidelines is spending less time swatting, scratching, and stressing – freeing you up to enjoy the things that really matter. Use repellent, dress for success, and don’t let bugs ruin your Fourth of July.