Kids love being outside, playing in the backyard, climbing trees in the woods, and going on camping trips. However, bugs like mosquitoes, ticks, bees, wasps, and biting flies are as much of a part of the great outdoors as dirt and grass. These insects are not just annoying enough to ruin your child’s summertime fun; the bugs can carry diseases like West Nile virus and bacterial pathogens like Lyme disease that can pose a real risk to your children’s health. Luckily there are some very effective ways of dealing with biting and stinging insects, so you don’t have to keep your children indoors all summer. Here are a bakers dozen of proven ways to keep bugs away from kids:
Mosquitoes and flies are so lightweight they cannot fly well in strong winds, making fans an excellent bug deterrent. You can place fans around your deck, patio, and children’s play areas to blow the bugs away, and large outdoor fans are best for this type of application.
2) Bug-Resistant Plants
Plants such as basil, chrysanthemums, garlic, lavender, lemongrass, marigolds, mint, and rosemary are strong, natural deterrents. These plants produce compounds that are toxic to some bugs, and others simply do not like the smell. Chrysanthemums, in particular, are very effective at repelling fleas and ticks and are used as the active ingredient in some pet shampoos.
3) Dryer Sheets
Some dryer sheets contain linalool that occurs naturally in lavender and basil, and it is considered toxic to some insects and has been scientifically proven to repel bugs. Rub the sheets on your clothes and hair.
4) Remove Standing Water
Bugs like mosquitoes lay their eggs in pools of still and especially stagnate water. Water collects in everything and anything that has any depression. This includes ground puddles, birdbaths, old tires, tarps covering woodpiles and equipment, trash cans, and rotten lumber. Empty all water from these objects after rain and fill in ground depressions with dirt.
5) Focus on Light Colors
Bugs naturally shy away from light colors, so painting doors, siding, patios, and fencing with lighter colors will help keep bugs away from your buildings. Also, dressing your children in light-colored clothing will help keep bugs from targeting them when outside.
6) Insect Repellents for Kids
Most commercial bug repellents are effective when used as directed, but many parents wonder what the best insect repellent for kids is. If you do not want to blast your kids with a bug spray that contains harsh chemicals, such as DEET, there are preparations like Proven mosquito repellent that use the ingredient picaridin that has a low acute toxicity.
7) All Natural Solutions:
- Citrus Oil: Many bugs, like spiders and wasps, do not like the smell of citrus. Placing orange oil around playhouses will help keep these pests out.
- Garlic: Sprinkling minced garlic around the yard will help keep both ants and mosquitoes away.
- Cinnamon: Sprinkling the spice in the sandbox will keep bugs from invading the sand. However, if the sand is already infested, it won’t work as the aroma of cinnamon is not strong enough to drive them out once they have moved in.
8) Keep a Clean House
Prevention is the key when it comes to keeping pests out of your house, as it is a lot easier to keep bugs out than to get rid of them once they have found their way inside. Ants are a great example as they send out scouts to look for food, and once the scout spreads the word, you have an infestation. While many ants species are harmless, some types do bite. Red ants, for example, are very aggressive if disturbed, have a painful bite, and venomous enough to raise a nice welt. Here are some effective tips to keep the bugs outside where they belong:
- Use pine-scented trash bags and keep a tight lid on the trashcans.
- Don’t leave dirty dishes on the table or counter.
- Store food in airtight containers.
- Immediately wipe up spills and crumbs.
- Seal gaps around doors, windows, and vents by adding weather stripping or spray-foam insulation so bugs can’t get inside.
- Install floor threshold sweepers on the bottom of doors to cover gaps between the threshold and door casing.
- Be sure all windows have screens of at least 20 mesh or finer to keep small bugs out and repair breaches in screens.
9) Cut the Grass
Long grass is a magnet for all types of biting and stinging insects. Keeping the grass mowed nice and short will significantly reduce the number of these little pests around your home.
10) Clean up the Yard
Picking up yard debris, like brush and leaf piles, will reduce the number of hiding places bugs can live and breed in. Take these steps:
• Bag leaves and yard waste.
• Clean out the gutters.
• Clear out junk.
• Stack firewood off the ground and away from buildings.
• Clear brush away from playground equipment.
Pets harbor both biting ticks and fleas that spread diseases. Pets should wear tick and flea collars to cut down on the numbers that will get onto your dog or cat. Dogs should be bathed with a good flea and tick shampoo at least once every two weeks and more often if needed. Use a flea comb on cats. Pick up dog and cat waste, and be sure to refill water bowls each day with fresh water. Lay towels down where pets sleep to collect flea eggs and wash and dry the towels on the hot cycle. Vacuum areas where pets hang out once a week and dispose of the vacuum bags immediately.
12) Call in the Pros
Sometimes things get so bad you may need professional help for situations like a flea or bed bug infestation. Professional eco-friendly pest control companies have many solutions for many types of pests. These companies will work with you to develop a plan to get rid of the bugs and keep your children safe from toxic chemicals. For example, bed bug infestations are best treated by superheating the affected areas to a temperature that will kill the bugs without exposing your family to any chemicals.
13) Care for Bites
Try as you might, it is inevitable that your kids will get insect bites. Care for bites by applying witch hazel or calamine lotion to help with the itching. Note that ticks have to stay attached for at least 24 hours to transmit enough bacteria to cause illness, so check your children over carefully after they have been outside. Ticks can be easily and effectively removed with specially designed devices like the Tick Twister.
While there are other steps you can take to keep bugs away from your kids, addressing the items on this list will go a long way in reducing the number of pests getting on your children. Even if you follow all the guidelines for reducing bugs around your home, be sure to always have everyone in the family wear an effective insect repellent whenever venturing outside. If you are concerned about using repellents with harsh chemicals, Proven’s Picaridin-based insect repellents are highly effective, do not contain DEET, and you can use them with confidence on the whole family. PROVEN’s entire line of repellents is sold online and in stores.