The warm days of summer bring fresh memories of cold watermelon, rope swings, sleeping bags …and yes, bug bites. For kids growing up in the ’70s, mosquitos were mostly a benign annoyance, but since 1999, The United States has seen an increase in potentially threatening mosquito-borne illnesses.

That being said, fun summertime activities are important for growing kids, so finding ways to coexist safely with mosquitoes is worth the effort. We’ve listed a few practical ways to keep mosquito bites at a minimum when summertime activities keep your kiddos outside for long stretches.

Wear protective clothing

Keep mosquitoes away from exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks. Bare skin, especially warm or sweaty skin, is a strong attractant to prowling mosquitoes. Covering children’s arms and legs with light, breathable clothing can protect them from both insects and sun exposure.

Avoid wet and marshy areas

Inspect children’s play areas to ensure they are free from wet, marshy ground. Mosquitoes need sanding water to complete their lifecycle, and adult mosquitoes rest during the day in cool, damp vegetation.

Schedule outdoor play times (avoid dawn and dusk)

Most strains of mosquitoes are active during lowlight hours, like dawn and dusk.  Bring children indoors when daylight hours begin to fade.

Replace your outdoor lights with yellow “bug” lights

Yellow lights will not completely repel mosquitoes, but they do tend to attract fewer mosquitoes than ordinary lights.

Remove mosquito “habitats” around your yard and home

Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where mosquitoes can breed.

Use spray and oil repellents to repel mosquitoes

When your outdoor plans take you to areas outside your control, you may find it necessary to add a personal repellant to limit attraction. It’s important to note, however, that not all repellants are created equal, so check your government websites for information on safety and efficacy guidelines.

Summertime activities are important for building strong bodies and happy memories, and practical measures for controlling mosquito habitats and limiting attraction can go a long way toward preventing bites and itchy bodies. Because no one likes to hear, “Mom, it itches!”

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