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Bug off! 5 tips for a safe, fun summer.

Toni-Ann DiSantis

Bug off! 5 tips for a safe, fun summer.

Ah, the easy, breezy days of summer are here. Hiking, camping, backyard barbecues, … the outdoor pleasures abound. And so do tiny biting creatures — and the diseases they carry. In fact, known cases of diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes tripled from 2004 to 2016, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There’s no magic bullet for preventing bug bites, but the following steps can help:

Dress for success. Wear long pants, long sleeves, a hat, and shoes and socks to prevent bites. If you’re in tick country, consider tucking pants into socks, spraying your shoes with the insecticide permethrin, and wearing permethrin-treated clothing.

Get the right repellant. According to the CDC, DEET, Picaridin, and IR3535 are effective against both ticks and mosquitoes; oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-D, and 2-undecanone are effective against mosquitoes, but not ticks. If you’re wearing sunscreen, too, apply the sunscreen first. (Parents, talk to your pediatrician about which products are appropriate for children.)

Do a tick check. Check your body for ticks every day, paying particular attention to the places ticks like to hide, like armpits, behind ears, hair, between toes, between the legs, and inside the belly button. To intercept any ticks on your skin or clothing that haven’t yet attached, shower as soon as possible after coming inside and toss your clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes (longer if they’re damp). If your clothes need washing, wash in hot water if possible and tumble dry until they’re completely dry. Inspect your gear, too, for any hitchhikers.

Keep mosquitoes outside your home by making sure all windows have screens (repair holes if necessary). Once a week, empty any items in your yard that contain any water, such as buckets, tires, or toys. Mosquitoes need only a tiny amount of water in order to breed.

Don’t panic if you see a tick. Do grab a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull upward slowly and steadily. (Don’t twist the tweezers, as this can cause the tick’s head to remain in your skin.) Dab the area with alcohol to disinfect.