How to Protect Yourself from Mosquitoes During a Picnic
No one wants uninvited guests during a picnic, especially if they see you as the main course. Mosquitoes can bring discomfort and disease with each bite, so it’s important to know how to protect yourself from mosquitoes during a picnic, hike or other outdoor activity.
Facts About Mosquitoes
There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes, however the majority of disease is carried by three varieties. These three species are responsible for diseases such as malaria, the West Nile virus, encephalitis and yellow fever, as well as other diseases and illnesses. The female mosquito is the culprit in these attacks. She needs the blood of her host to nourish her eggs, while the male mosquito feeds primarily on plant nectar.
While most mosquito bites are just annoying, for aforementioned reasons, some can be dangerous. So preventing mosquito bites while enjoying time with friends and family outdoors can protect your health – and specifically young children and the elderly, who are especially susceptible to illness.
Avoid Mosquito-Rich Environments to Prevent Bites
If you are in your own environment, such as your own backyard, it is much easier to control the mosquito population. When you are enjoying a picnic at a local park or hiking on a public trail, it can be more difficult to repel mosquitoes. There are certain conditions that mosquitoes require to thrive, so avoid these situations to cut down on your exposure to mosquitoes.
- Standing water: Mosquitoes need water for the laying eggs.
- Picnicking at dusk: Most species of mosquitoes are especially active at this time of day.
- Tall wet grasses: Tall grass can hide water that serves as mosquito breeding grounds. Mosquitoes also like to rest in the shade.
Topical Solutions to Prevent Mosquito Bites
Topical solutions such as bug sprays and lotions that repel the mosquitoes are a successful way to prevent bites. Products that contain DEET seem to be the most popular and be the most effective. Another ingredient to look for is picardin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus has also proven to be effective at repelling the pesky nuisance of mosquito bites. Picardin and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on young children and DEET should not be used on children under six months old. None of these products should be used on the hands and face. These products have been found effective but require several applications depending on the amount of time you spend outdoors. And remember: it is important to follow the directions to prevent potentially dangerous side effects.
Alternative Methods to Protect Against Mosquito Bites
There are natural, non-chemical methods available to those who prefer not to spray potentially harmful ingredients onto their exposed skin.
- Light, loose-fitting clothes that cover the skin is one of the safest ways to deter mosquito bites. Cover as much of the skin as possible, making it difficult for mosquitoes to find a patch of skin to land on.
- Smoke deters mosquitoes.
- Citronella candles and torches around the perimeter of your picnic area will also deter mosquitoes from entering the area.
- Mosquito nets can be used to protect the picnic area.
- There are many devices available, such as repellent table cloths and personal barriers, that claim to be successful, too.
- While some claim success using garlic oil and other natural remedies, the verdict is still out as to the real effectiveness of those claims.
Controlling mosquitoes has proven to be difficult world-wide. However, with a bit of creative thinking, it can be done on an individual basis. A combination of repellent sprays and light, loose-fitting clothes seem to get the best results in most situations.
Many cities and districts also spray to control the mosquito population in public places. Knowing when those methods are being used may help to determine when the population of mosquitoes will be at their lowest. Planning your celebrations and gatherings around those times may, in addition to the other suggestions, increase your ability to prevent mosquito bites while enjoying picnics, cookouts, and hiking.