Perhaps the only downside of summertime for me is the presence of summer pests. A hornet swarming around my head makes me jittery and jumpy; a mosquito bite on the ankle can ruin a perfectly pleasant night’s sleep; and a tick burrowing under the skin gives me a raging case of the heebie jeebies. (Not to mention Lyme Disease, if left untreated.) Try these tips to keep pesty party-crashers at bay this summer.
Hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps are usually a late-summer nuisance, hungry scavengers on the hunt. They love nothing more than a big outdoor party with a vast buffet of food. Though there is really no insecticide or true repellant for these pests, you can minimize their impact by waiting to serve food and drinks until people are ready to eat. Then, promptly put food away or cover it with air-tight lids and covers. Open food containers and drinks are an open invitation for these guys, so keep a lid on things to keep the annoyance at a minimum.
There are a lot of great alternatives to the smelly aerosol sprays, and everybody seems to have their favorite. A few of my favorites include:
- Avon’s Skin So Soft
- Hanging a Bounce dryer sheet from your pocket or waistband
- A few drops of of essential oils (I prefer lavendar, eucalyptus, and cedar) with a small spray bottle of witch hazel
- Vanilla extract, dabbed on your pulse points like perfume (perfect for cookie lovers!)
If you’re unlucky enough to garner a bite, my favorite ways to keep the itch at a minimum are a baking soda and water paste (or a cup of baking soda added to bath water for multiple bites), ice directly on a bite, or (a childhood favorite) good old-fashioned spit. (Seriously!)
The best defense when it comes to ticks is knowing when and where to expect them. Ticks are usually found in wooded areas or wherever there is thick vegetation. Camping, hiking, and even gardening can put you at risk, so be aware of your surroundings. Kids playing hide-and-seek outside and climbing trees can easily pick up a tick unknowingly. The most important thing you can do to prevent ticks is to wear long sleeves and pants, keeping the majority of your skin unexposed. Wearing bug repellant with DEET is also recommended.
After being outdoors, do a thorough check of your skin, especially under the arms, around and behind the ears, behind the knees, in the hair, between the legs, and around the waist. Taking a shower within two hours of coming inside is also recommended to prevent ticks.
If you do find a tick burrowing under the skin, carefully remove the entire body and watch for signs of a rash or fever. Keep the tick in a jar or plastic bag in the event that symptoms occur and you need to identify the type.
Those are my tips. Share yours in the comments section and stay safe this summer!