Staying Mosquito-Free

How to keep mosquitoes away this summer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

It's summer — a time to be outside and enjoy nature. But mosquitoes, as always, will make an appearance.

In addition to being annoying and causing one to itch, mosquitoes can spread certain viruses. Infected mosquitoes can spread dengue, chikungunya or Zika viruses.

Here's what you need to know to keep you and your family protected from mosquitoes and the potential health risks they pose. 

Standing Water = Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes love water. In fact, they lay their eggs near water. That said, the best thing you can do to control mosquitoes in and around your house is remove anything and everything that stores water. This may include but is not limited to flower pot saucers, planters, tires, buckets, bird baths and trash bins. If you cannot discard items that may hold water, empty the water and leave them turned over.

You may even have to scrub these items. If you can not empty the water or discard these items, make sure to fit the containers holding water with covers to prevent mosquitoes from getting in and laying eggs. 

Insect Repellents

When selecting an insect repellent, choose one that contains active ingredients that are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These ingredients include DEET (Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, Ultrathon), picaridin (Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus), and IR3535 (Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition, SkinSmart) and some oil of lemon eucalyptus* and para-menthane-diol products (Repel). 

* Pure oil of lemon eucalyptus (essential oil) is not recommended. 

When using an insect repellent:

  • Always follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Apply insect repellent onto the skin that is NOT covered by clothing. Do not apply under clothes. 
  • Do not over-apply insect repellent. Use enough repellent to cover your skin. 
  • Do not apply repellent over cuts or wounds. 
  • Do not allow children to handle or apply repellent. 
  • When applying to your face, spray repellent onto hands and then pat on face. 
  • Avoid applying repellent around the eyes and mouth. 
  • If applying sunscreen and repellent, apply sunscreen first. 
  • Be sure to wash skin with soap and water where you applied repellent when you go back inside. 

When using a repellent on an infant, child or pregnant woman:

  • Do not use more than 30 percent DEET.
  • Do not apply repellent to babies who are younger than 2 months old. For children younger than 2 months, protect your baby by using an infant carrier draped with mosquito netting. Make sure it has an elastic edge for a tight fit. 
  • Do not apply repellent with lemon eucalyptus on children who are 3 years and younger. 
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use insect repellents that are EPA-approved. 

Other Tips

  • When spending time outdoors, be sure to dress appropriately. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat.
  • Spray repellent on your clothes. You may even choose to treat your clothes or your bed net (if you are using one in an area where mosquitoes are very active) with permethrin. If you are treating your clothes or bed net with permethrin, they must be treated 24 to 48 hours in advance of travel to allow them to dry. 
  • Sleep in an air-conditioned room that is screened properly. 
  • Avoid spending time outdoors when mosquitoes are most active. 
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 30, 2016