Stillwater News Press

Lifestyles

August 2, 2010

What's bugging you?

How to prevent and treat the bug bites of summer

STILLWATER, Okla. — If you’re covered in bug bites, it must be summer.

Your legs and arms itch, and the more you scratch, the itchier they get.

You come in from hiking or working in your yard and look down and see a tick on your leg.

While you are outside, you hear a buzzing and something with a stinger flies past.

You can resolve to stay indoors — which does have air conditioning going for it — or you can keep calm, take some cautionary measures and play outside in the sun.

Mosquitoes

The first thing to do is wear light-colored clothing “so you’re not a magnet for mosquitoes,” said Oklahoma State University Entomology and Plant Pathology Assistant Professor Richard Grantham.

Then, wear repellent with either DEET or picaridin, which Grantham said is a European import that is supposed to be child-friendlier than DEET. If you’re using a DEET product, the higher the percentage of DEET, the longer it will last.

You can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by getting rid of containers of standing water, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That can include pets’ water dishes, lidless trash cans and even clogged roof gutters.

Ticks

I
f you find a tick on your body, don’t try to smother it with petroleum jelly or any other substance. That’s going to take a long time, Grantham said, “and it’s feeding the whole time.”

Instead, he advised, grip the tick’s head with a pair of tweezers and gently pull it out. Be careful because you don’t want to break off the mouthparts in your skin; that could cause an infection, Grantham said.

He described the mouthpart as similar to a bottle brush; the brush-like part helps anchor the tick in your skin.

To avoid ticks, stay out of tall grass and weeds and overgrown areas. If you have to go into those areas, wear boots and tuck your pants into your socks, the CDC advises. Also, wear light-colored clothing so you can see ticks on your clothes.

DEET repellents will also help repel ticks.

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