Parenting: Kids and mosquito bites

David Murphy says reduce bites this summer by reducing mosquitoes. And don't scratch!

David Murphy says reduce bites this summer by reducing mosquitoes. And don't scratch!
June 28, 2012 5:38:57 AM PDT
Mosquitoes are on the prowl again in our area. I know this because my wife has just gotten her first nibbles in the last couple of weeks, and mosquitoes like her better than anyone I know. I'm still waiting for bite number one, but it can't be far off, because this week is Mosquito Control Awareness Week, and they don't declare these things unless the timing is right!

Of course, there's nothing more pitiful than the moaning of a child with an itchy bug bite. The people at the American Mosquito Control Association (yeah, this is for real---about 1600 public agencies worldwide are members) are here to tell you how to reduce this annual warm-weather problem.

The first tip is the one talked about the most: drain any standing water on your property. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water and once the larva develops and adults mature, they seek-out the nearest victims. (This means you and your kids if the bugs happen to be born on your property.)

Old tires are a favorite nesting site, so get rid of any of those, and drill holes into the bottom of recycling containers. Keeping your gutters clean is another big step, along with changing the water in bird baths often. Kid's toys left outside can also be mosquito hotbeds. It only takes a small amount of water to produce a thousand new hovering nibblers.

The AMCA has a really cool website, with an astounding amount of information about the bugs, for those who really want to all there is to know.

They also recommend long sleeves when working in the garden or going out at night. It's understandable that our humid summers make that a bit impractical at times.

A better idea is the use of approved repellents like DEET, ointments with the ingredient picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus. It should be noted that these preventive treatments may work better on some people than on others.

Mosquitoes, the experts remind us, are worth avoiding for more than just the annoyance of the bite itself. Some mosquitoes carry the West Nile Virus and the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, as well as parasites that kill off wildlife like birds and reptiles. (some of which ironically eat mosquitoes!)

If you or your child does get bitten, which is pretty much a foregone conclusion for some of you, the experts say don't scratch! Use calamine lotion, ice or an anti-itch cream which can be bought now and kept on hand for when the bugs really get biting. Here's a very nice, short article written for kids on this subject.

Here's to stopping summer from taking a bite out of you this year!

---David Murphy

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