Meredith Maxwell, M.D., M.H.A.

Summer is a beloved time for relaxation and family vacations. But there are some all-to-familiar annoyances about Louisiana summers that aren’t so popular – at the top of the list mosquitoes. If not careful, mosquitoes can expose you to diseases. Here are the best ways to protect yourself from mosquitos to ensure a safe and fun summer ahead!

What are mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes are widely known as one of the most dangerous animals. They are insects that feed off of human blood. When a mosquito bites you, it injects saliva into the bloodstream that causes an allergic reaction for many humans. The saliva causes an itchy, red bump at the site of the bite. However, a small bump can be the least of your worries when mosquitos can be carriers of the West Nile virus, Zika and Malaria. These pests tend to flock to warm climates and are prevalent near sitting water. Mosquitoes are rampant in the southern region of the United States, so southerners beware of these carriers!

How can you protect yourself from mosquito bites?

Although they can be scary and irritating, bug bites can be easily prevented. Before you do any outdoor activities, make sure you use bug spray or repellent. It is recommended to use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, which are proven safe and effective. Your spray should include DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) as an active ingredient. Pregnant and breasfeeding women should check with their providers before using these products.

Dress children in clothes that cover their arms and legs. It is also recommended to cover strollers or cribs in mosquito netting. However, do not use insect repellent on babies under 2 months old.

How can you protect the inside of your home?

To kill mosquitos inside the home, it is recommended to use an indoor insect fogger or indoor insect spray to treat areas where they rest. These products work immediately, and may need to be reapplied. When using insecticides, always follow label directions. Only using insecticide will not keep your home free of mosquitoes. You should also install or repair window and door screens. You should also use air conditioning when possible and keep doors closed.

How can you protect the outside of your home?

Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture or in garages. Once a week, you should empty and scrub any items that hold water like buckets or planters. Mosquitoes like to lay eggs near water. Therefore, you should tightly cover water storage containers so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.

Click here for 5 tips to fend off mosquitoes all summer long!

Click here to test your knowledge on mosquito-borne diseases.


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Meredith Maxwell, M.D., M.H.A., attended the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, where she completed her family medicine residency, before joining the Touro Infirmary Health System. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine Diplomate.

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