Beat the bite: How to defend your family against mosquitoes

Beat the bite: How to defend your family against mosquitoes
Experts suggest you apply EPA-approved repellents to defend against mosquitoes. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - During the summer, the mosquito is no stranger. That’s why Monday, June 22 kicks off National Mosquito Control Awareness Week.

A couple of Baton Rouge area pest professionals are sharing how your family can better protect themselves from the buzzing bug.

“Mosquitoes are, believe it or not, the deadliest animal on the planet,” said Herff Jones, the secretary and treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Mosquito Control Association.

We know the common mosquito all too well in Louisiana, so it’s important we have the best practices to keep the pest away.

“Between protecting our family and our pets, it’s also a matter of just preventing ourselves and our family from getting things like West Nile Virus,” said Kristen Healy, assistant professor and a medical entomologist at the LSU AgCenter.

Healy says one of the best ways to prevent mosquito bites is by using the right repellent.

“Having some level of protection is always better than having no protection,” she said.

She recommends EPA-approved products, which are sprays that have been tested by the Environmental Protection Agency. Just flip the bottle over to look for the EPA number on the label.

“Their safety has been proven and registered effective, if you follow the label instructions,” said Jones.

Jones agrees these may be the most effective products to fend off mosquitoes, but he explains these products might not be the best for your toddler.

“We don’t recommend repellents for kids 2 years and younger,” said Jones.

Long sleeve, light colored clothes also protect sensitive skin against bites, but what about products with more natural ingredients?

“Just because it’s made from nature doesn’t mean it’s any safer or more effective,” said Healy

Some natural repellents may work, but these pros and the CDC say your best bet is to go with an EPA-approved product with an ingredient such as DEET.

Healy points out you can’t forget to protect your pets too.

“Most people don’t realize that all heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes,” said the entomologist.

Heartworm disease is an illness that damages a dog’s heart and lungs. Ask your vet how you can keep your four-legged friends safe from mosquitoes.

You also want to make sure you aren’t breeding mosquitoes in your backyard. After it rains, be sure to dump out any standing water so you don’t accidentally welcome thousands of new mosquitoes around your home.

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