How to Prevent Mosquito Bites

bed with mosquito net

Are you tired of those pesky mosquito bites ruining your day and even your good night of sleep? Do you find yourself swatting and scratching, desperately searching for relief? Well, fret no more! In this article, we will delve into the secrets of how to prevent mosquito bites and reclaim your summer enjoyment.

We’ll explore a range of practical strategies to safeguard yourself and your loved ones from the relentless mosquito assault, including a personal experience on how to avoid becoming a mosquito buffet. From tried-and-true methods for preventing mosquitoes in general to effective strategies to stop them from getting to your skin — we’ve got you covered!

Risks of Mosquito Bites

Ah, the annoying itchiness of a mosquito bite. Most of the time, these pesky bites are just temporary annoyances that go away on their own. But did you know that some bites can become big, swollen, and sore bumps, especially in kids? 

But wait, there’s more. Mosquitoes have long been recognized as vectors for transmitting diseases like the West Nile virus, malaria, dengue, yellow fever, Chikungunya, and Zika virus. 

How does this happen? A mosquito bites a person or animal infected with a virus or parasite. Then it spreads these pathogens to other people through subsequent bites, serving as a disease carrier. 

In the following sections, we will explore effective strategies and techniques to reduce your exposure to mosquitoes and mitigate the risks associated with their bites.

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites

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Female mosquitoes have a secret agenda — they need our blood to nourish their precious eggs. To accomplish this, they have a keen sense for carbon dioxide, the odor of our skin, and even our body heat. It’s like we’re a walking buffet for them! 

While we can’t magically eliminate these mosquito magnets, we can take steps to make ourselves less appealing to them.

Use Insect Repellents 

To keep mosquitoes at bay, insect repellents are your trusty sidekicks. To ensure maximum effectiveness and safety, opting for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents is crucial. These are specially formulated to ward off those pesky biters and have been tested to prove their efficacy.

Here are the most common active ingredients:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin
  • IR 3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • P-Menthane-3,8-diol (PMD)
  • Oil of citronella

To make the most of these mosquito repellents, it’s essential to follow the instructions on the label. Remember, a little goes a long way. Also, remember that they are temporary solutions and won’t kill insects; they just repel them. Reapply every 4 to 8 hours or as directed on the label.

Pro Tip: Apply sunscreen first, wait about 20 minutes, and then apply the repellent. This ensures you get sun protection without compromising the repellent’s effectiveness.

Warning: Avoid applying repellents over sunburns, cuts, wounds, or rashes.

Firsthand Experience: Lesson Learned

raven wisdom
Raven Wisdom

I attended a BBQ with my cousin this summer. He was insistent that he didn’t need bug spray, and even made fun of me for wearing pants and a long sleeved shirt while he wore shorts and a tank top. The weather was fantastic, but it was pretty hot and humid.

As soon as we got to the BBQ, I noticed mosquitoes swarming around my cousin, but he didn’t seem bothered. While everyone else was busy applying bug spray, my cousin confidently dismissed the need for any “chemical stuff” and claimed that the mosquitoes wouldn’t bother him.

Well, his confidence didn’t last long. Within minutes, he became a walking buffet for the mosquitoes. They attacked relentlessly as my cousin desperately swatted at them and flailed his arms around in a wild dance.

Eventually, he gave in and asked everyone for spare bug spray, but it was too late. Red bumps started appearing all over him. I felt bad for him, but couldn’t help but laugh. I had no idea he had dance moves like that. I think he’s learned his lesson about being mosquito bait, while I enjoyed every bite without a single itch.

Raven Wisdom

Treat Your Clothing

When battling mosquitoes, sometimes an extra line of defense is needed. Permethrin is an insecticide that can be a game-changer, especially if you plan on hiking or camping. It can be used to treat your clothing and gear, creating a protective shield against mosquitoes.

Apply 0.5% permethrin to your boots, pants, socks, and even your trusty tent, and watch as mosquitoes and ticks are kept at bay. You can also purchase mosquito-repellent clothing that has already been treated with permethrin for added convenience.

What makes permethrin even more remarkable is its long-lasting effects. Even after multiple washings, the treated clothing and gear retain their insect-repelling power, providing extended protection throughout your adventures. 

Warning: Never apply permethrin directly to your skin. Follow label instructions.

Put Up Physical Barriers 

Sometimes, the best defense lies in physical barriers that create a mosquito-free zone. Here’s how to prevent mosquito bites without repellent:

  • Mosquito netting: Protect your little ones from mosquito attacks using mosquito netting for strollers and cribs. These fine mesh coverings create a protective barrier, allowing your children to sleep or play in peace while keeping the mosquitoes out.
  • Window and door screens: Install screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes from sneaking into your living spaces. These screens act as a first line of defense, allowing fresh air to flow while keeping the buzzing invaders at bay. 
  • Repair the screens: While slightly damaged screens can keep larger pests like raccoons or mice at bay, mosquitoes are more cunning. They are experts at finding the tiniest gaps to squeeze through. That’s why it’s crucial to regularly inspect your screens and patch up any holes or tears you find.
  • Seal entry points: Mosquitoes are crafty insects that can find their way into your home through tiny gaps and cracks. Seal potential entry points by caulking gaps around windows, doors, and utility openings. This simple step can significantly reduce the number of mosquitoes indoors.

By employing these physical barriers, you can significantly reduce your exposure to mosquitoes and create a more comfortable and bite-free environment.

Use Appropriate Clothing

When it comes to outsmarting mosquitoes, your choice of clothing can significantly prevent those pesky bites. Here are some key points to keep in mind when it comes to dressing for mosquito defense:

  • Opt for loose-fitting attire: Mosquitoes can easily bite through tight-fitting clothes, so choose loose garments that provide extra protection.
  • Cover up: Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to minimize exposed skin. The more skin you cover, the less opportunity mosquitoes have to feast on you.
  • Don’t forget your feet: Wear socks to protect your feet, and if possible, tuck your pants into your socks to close any gaps where mosquitoes can sneak in.
  • Embrace head protection: Mosquitoes love to target the head and face, so consider wearing a hat or using head nets to keep them at bay.

Use Air Conditioning 

Air conditioning can be a powerful ally in preventing mosquito bites. While it won’t eradicate them, it creates an environment that mosquitoes despise. Here’s how air conditioning can help:

  • Mosquitoes thrive in warm temperatures, which is why you often see them buzzing around during the summer months. Turning on the air conditioner creates a cool atmosphere that mosquitoes find less inviting. 
  • Air conditioning removes humidity from the air. Mosquitoes are attracted to humid environments, relying on moisture for breeding and survival. A dehumidifier can also play this same role if you don’t have air conditioning or as an added help in humid areas of the country.
  • Air conditioning disrupts the carbon dioxide trail. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide gas we exhale, using it as a trail to find their next blood meal. With the AC on, mosquitoes have a harder time “sensing” our presence.

Pro Tip: Do you hate when mosquitoes waltz into your home as you enter and exit? Air curtains can be a good solution. These devices create a high-velocity stream of air across doorways and openings, forming an invisible barrier that deters mosquitoes from entering.

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites While Sleeping

mosquito repellent
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Imagine this: you’re cozied up in bed, ready to drift off into dreamland, when suddenly… buzzzzz! The dreaded mosquito makes its entrance, threatening to turn your peaceful slumber into a restless night of itchy annoyance. 

You can reclaim your peaceful night’s sleep by following these tips:

  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net to create a physical barrier between you and the mosquitoes. Make sure to tuck the net under your mattress securely for maximum effectiveness. Consider getting a net treated with permethrin for an added layer of defense.
  • Opt for loose-fitting, long-sleeved pajamas that cover your body. Light-colored clothing is preferable, as mosquitoes are less attracted to it.
  • Keep the room cool by turning on the air conditioner or using a fan near your bed. Mosquitoes are less active in cool environments and find it harder to locate their targets in circulating air.
  • Keep windows closed to prevent mosquitoes from entering your sleeping sanctuary. If possible, install window screens.
  • Spritz a diluted mixture of essential oils like citronella, clove, and peppermint. While not EPA-registered products, some studies indicate they are natural repellents. You can also add 5 to 10 drops of those oils into a diffuser with water and place it near your bed.

Careful With Children 

To safeguard children from mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases, a little extra caution goes a long way. Here are essential considerations to keep in mind:

  • Choose appropriate repellents: Products containing DEET have been tested and approved for children over two months old. However, avoid using repellents with oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under three years old. Always follow the recommended age guidelines.
  • Mindful application: Be careful when applying repellents to a child’s skin, especially their hands. Avoid areas near the eyes and mouth to prevent accidental contact.
  • Dress for protection: Dress children in loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to minimize exposed skin.
  • Shield with netting: When outdoors, cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting to create a protective barrier.

How to Prevent Mosquitoes

For effective mosquito control, the first step is to tackle their habitats. You can significantly reduce mosquito populations by targeting breeding grounds and eliminating their preferred environments.

Here are some essential strategies to prevent mosquito habitats recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Mosquito control illustration
Photo Credit: Juan Rodriguez
  • Remove standing water: Mosquitoes require stagnant water to lay their eggs. Regularly inspect your surroundings and remove any standing water sources, such as flower pots, buckets, gutters, and birdbaths. Empty, clean, or cover these items to deny mosquitoes their breeding grounds.
  • Maintain or empty pools: If you have a swimming pool, keep it properly treated and chlorinated to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the water. When not in use, empty the pool or add a well-fitting cover.
  • Clear debris and clean gutters: Remove any debris or organic matter that can accumulate water, such as fallen leaves, clogged gutters, or blocked drains. Mosquitoes can utilize these hidden water sources for breeding.
  • Tidy your yard: Trim overgrown vegetation, regularly mow your lawn, and eliminate areas with dense shrubs or tall grass. Mosquitoes seek shelter in these areas during the day, so reducing their resting spots makes your yard less appealing to them.
  • Use larvicides: Consider using larvicides, which are chemicals specifically designed to target mosquito larvae. These can be applied to bodies of water that cannot be easily emptied or treated with other methods, like ponds and fountains. Mosquito dunks are among the most popular and easy-to-use larvicides on the market.

How to Treat Mosquito Bites

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If the sneaky mosquitoes managed to get you despite your efforts, don’t worry. There are ways to ease the annoying itch and swelling:

  1. Start by washing the affected area with soap and water. This helps cleanse the skin and remove any lingering mosquito saliva, which is responsible for causing the itching.
  1. Grab an ice pack, wrap it in a thin cloth, and apply it to the bite for about 10 minutes. This simple trick helps reduce swelling and numb the area.
  1. Create a soothing paste by mixing one tablespoon of baking soda with water. Apply this paste to the bite for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off.
  1. Over-the-counter anti-itch creams or antihistamine creams can work wonders in soothing mosquito bites. These topical treatments help calm the itch and reduce inflammation. Just be sure to follow the instructions.
  1. We know it’s tempting, but scratching the bite will only worsen the itch and increase the risk of infection. Fight the urge to scratch and instead focus on these soothing remedies.

FAQ About Mosquito Bite Prevention

What Scent Do Mosquitoes Hate?

Mosquitoes have a strong dislike for certain scents, and there are various smells that can repel them. Here are a few scents that mosquitoes tend to dislike:

• Citronella oil
• Lemon eucalyptus oil
• Eucalyptus oil
• Cedar oil
• Geranium oil
• Peppermint 
• Lavender
• Lemongrass

Does Perfume Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Contrary to what some may believe, perfumes, cologne, and scented lotions do not keep mosquitoes away. In fact, these fragrances can have the opposite effect and attract mosquitoes, especially those with floral scents. 

Can Mosquitoes Bite Through Clothes?

Mosquitoes can bite through clothes. While clothing acts as a physical barrier that can help reduce the risk of mosquito bites, these pests have needle-like mouthparts that can penetrate thin fabrics and reach the skin. Tight-fitting clothes offer less protection as they allow mosquitoes to come into direct contact with the skin, increasing the likelihood of bites.

To minimize the chances of mosquitoes biting through your clothes, opt for loose-fitting garments made of thicker fabrics. 

Call for a Professional

Mosquitoes may think they’ve got the upper hand, but it’s time to turn the tables. Pest Gnome connects you to the best pest control experts in your area to evaluate and treat your property for both adult and larval mosquito populations.

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Maria Isabela Reis

Maria Isabela Reis is a writer, Ph.D. candidate, and plant enthusiast from an area where mosquitoes are as relentless in their pursuit of blood as she is in her quest for knowledge. When she’s not swatting away these buzzing annoyances, she’s playing with her dogs and savoring a cup of tea.