How To Avoid Insect Bites This Summer

July 05, 2016 | Summer, Wellness

Tips to help you deal with summer insect bites

Ah, warm weather is finally here!  With that comes trips to your cottage, camping and family barbecues.  There may be uninvited guests that follow you around this summer… and with that are the hard to avoid insect bites.  Here are four insect pests you will likely come across this summer and tips on how to deal with them:

1. Mosquitoes

One of the summer’s most unwelcome insects is the mosquito. It will feast on birds, animals and you. Mosquito season starts in mid-April and runs through the fall until the first frost.  One of the potential problems from being bitten by this insect is that they can carry West Nile Virus and Zika Virus .  

  • Prevention: Mosquitos are most active during early mornings and evenings.  Try to stay inside at dusk and dawn.  Wearing long sleeve pants and shirts can help to add an extra barrier between your skin and the mosquitoes. Use an effective insect repellent when playing outdoors.  DEET products should not be used on small children.  You should also avoid using insect repellants around the lips, eyes or on irritated skin.
  • Bite Treatment: An over-the-counter anti-itch product like After Bite or calamine lotion can help to alleviate the itch from insect bites.  Icing can also give you temporary relief by reducing the inflammation from an insect bite.  Avoid scratching!  Scratching can irritate the insect bite more and potentially lead to infection.

2. Bees and Wasps

Flowers are in full bloom during the summer, and this also the flowers from fruits, vegetables, and berries.  Bees are an essential component of food since they act as pollinators.  Without bees, our vegetation would be severely impacted.  Wasps, however, are predators.  They may occasionally feed on nectar and pollen like bees, but typically the feed on other insects.  

  • Prevention: Insect repellant does not deter bees and wasps.  Avoidance is key.  Wasps tend to gather around garbage bins.  Wearing lighter colour clothing, avoiding scented shampoos, moisturizers, etc. can help you go unnoticed by a bee.  If you have a bee or a wasp flying around you, avoid the urge to swat at it.  Sudden movements can provoke the insect to sting.
  • Sting Treatment: If stung by a bee, sometimes the stinger will get lodged in your skin.  Make sure you remove the stinger careful to avoid accidentally squeezing more venom into your body.  Wasp stingers generally do not get stuck in the skin.  Clean the area well.  If you are noticing any allergic reaction such as swollen lips or eyelids, difficulty breathing, throat tightening or hives, seek immediate medical help.

3. Black Flies

Black flies are a common nuisance when you are at your cottage or enjoying a day in the park.  They tend to be more prevalent during the morning, late afternoon and early evening.  They also tend to be found in wooded areas.  

  • Prevention: Long sleeved tops and pants can give you a little extra protection from the insect.  Black flies cannot bite through clothing.  Remember to tuck your pants into your socks!  Black flies are also attracted to dark colours.  Insect repellents may help in deterring black flies.
  • Bite Treatment: Clean the area with soap.  Apply an anti-itch product or ice if necessary.

4. Ticks

When ticks bite, they like to hold on like little vampires.  Some ticks can carry bacteria which can lead to Lyme disease, a neurological condition.

  • Prevention:  Avoid areas which are known to be tick habitats such as tall grassy trails and wooded areas.  Keeping your arms and legs covered can help reduce your chance of getting bitten.  After a time outdoors, check yourself thoroughly for ticks.  Be aware of the bulls-eye rash seen in some people with Lyme disease. This red ring may grow to about 2 inches in diameter around the bite about a week after the tick bite.
  • Bite Treatment: First, the tick needs to be removed. If you are not comfortable removing the tick yourself, see your healthcare professional.  Using clean tweezers, carefully grasp the tick as close to the surface of your skin as possible.  Pull away slowly.  Keep the area clean.  If mouthparts from the tick break off in your skin, they can be removed with tweezers.  If unable to remove, seek help from your healthcare professional.

We hope these tips help you to enjoy your summer without the annoyance of insect bites!