Fight the bites: Tips to protect yourself from mosquitoes this summer

WASHINGTON — Summertime and the living is easy… Until mosquitoes take aim at people enjoying the great outdoors.

“When you’re outside with mosquitoes during the summertime, personal protection is your best bet,” said “The Bug Guy” Mike Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland.

A protection plan begins with the clothes chosen to wear when going outdoors. Raupp said loose fitting, light-colored clothing is best.

For people who are mosquito magnets, clothing pretreated with repellent is an option. Many of these wearable options are strong enough to keep bugs away for up to seventy washes.

People who already have their favorite clothes or shoes for the outdoors may choose to treat their apparel with Permethrin, an insecticide that can be sprayed on clothing. This insecticide also keeps ticks away.

“You can apply this to your trouser legs or your boots or your clothing,” Raupp said.

The insecticide should be applied to clothing well before they are put on and should never be applied to skin, according to Raupp.

For your skin, Raupp said people should make a decision on which insecticide to use based on where they will be going outside.

“If I’m going into a place with Malaria or something like Dengue [fever], I’m probably going to use a DEET product,” he said.

Raupp said some of the non-DEET alternatives will do the job for those around the D.C.-area.

He said most repellents give you protection for about eight hours.

A natural repellent made of lemon eucalyptus oil is also available, but is only good for around four hours of protection.

In addition, citronella candles and torches can help keep the critters away.

“Essential oils can be effective repellents. They’re not going to be nearly as effective as some of these compounds that were specifically formulated to repel mosquitoes, but they will give you some protection,” said Raupp.

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