Human beings thrive in summer weather; unfortunately, bugs do too -- especially mosquitoes. They swarm over your head when you're walking in the woods. They chase you on the tennis court. They whine around your ears when you crawl into your tent at night. It's not surprising that you run across them so often; about 10 trillion mosquitoes hatch each year in the U.S. That's 4,100 mosquitoes for every American.
You can help reduce the mosquito population by dumping out pails, pans and any open containers like empty flowerpots in your yard after a rainstorm. If there are old tires in your garage or shed, and they have water in them, drain them, too. Mosquito eggs must be in water to hatch, and these containers make good breeding grounds for them. They don't need much water; mosquito eggs have been found in pet dishes, puddles and birdbaths.
If you're going camping, repair holes in your tent and tent flap before you go. Even a one-eighth-inch hole -- about this size: -- is enough to let the bugs in.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in the early morning and evening when the mosquitoes are most likely to strike. Wear light colors rather than dark ones; dark colors attract bugs. If the bugs are really bad, use insect repellent on your exposed skin.
Effective insect repellent will keep mosquitoes, gnats, ticks, chiggers, fleas and flies from biting you. Your doctor may have a brand he or she thinks is especially good for children to use. Be careful not to get the repellent on any synthetic cloth you may be wearing, because it will stain. The repellent will wash right out of cotton fabric, however.
No matter how careful you are, though, you'll probably get a few bites this summer. Only female mosquitoes like to attack humans. Females don't actually bite; they suck blood, and leave a little bit of saliva behind in exchange. Most people are allergic to chemicals in mosquito saliva. When your body realizes that the chemicals are there, it has an allergic reaction, and the area where the mosquito sucked becomes swollen and itchy. Try not to scratch, though. That just makes the itching worse and can cause a sore that may get infected. Try calamine lotion to ease the itch instead.