Citronella candles are not, unfortunately, very effective at keeping away mosquitoes.

Citronella candles are not, unfortunately, very effective at keeping away mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are back, and in larger numbers than usual

A few simple steps can reduce the menace of potentially harmful bugs.

Warmer than usual temperatures, combined with spring runoff and standing water, mean that mosquitoes are back with a vengeance throughout the region. This is an exceptionally good year for the annoying creatures, which means a bad year for humans, and many people who love the outdoors will be reaching for the repellent to protect themselves.

Bug bites can cause a number of health problems: from itchiness and irritation to potentially serious diseases. Personal insect repellents can help protect you from mosquito, blackfly, and tick bites, but it’s important to remember that they should be used only as directed.

To help avoid bug bites, cover exposed skin with clothing as much as possible. Light-coloured clothing can be more effective than dark, as those who study mosquitoes believe that they see dark colours better.

There is no blood type that mosquitoes favour, and no food you can eat that will either repel or attract bugs very much. They are most active at dawn and dusk.

The crushed leaves of a citronella plant can be mildly effective at keeping mosquitoes at bay, but citronella candles—which are subject to sudden changes in wind direction—mostly just protect the candle.

Personal insect repellents are what many people turn to in order to ward off bugs. Always read the entire label carefully before using, and follow all directions. This includes restrictions for use on children and the maximum number of applications allowed per day.

Apply only a small amount of repellent on exposed skin or on top of clothing (you don’t need a lot for it to be effective). Never spray insect repellents directly into your face: spray some on your hands first, and then apply to your face. Try not to get repellent in your eyes. If you do, rinse them immediately with water.

Keep all insect repellent containers out of reach and sight of children and pets, and supervise the application of insect repellents on children. Avoid applying repellent to children’s hands to reduce the chance of them getting repellent in their eyes and mouths if they touch their hands to their eyes or mouth.

If you are concerned that you might be sensitive to a product, apply the product to a small area of skin on your arm and wait 24 hours to see if you have any adverse reaction.

You can’t keep mosquitoes out of your yard, but there are a few things you can do to cut down on their numbers. Drain any sources of standing water, which will reduce the number of places where mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed. This includes items such as buckets, barrels, cans, and discarded tires.

At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, and swimming pool covers.

Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out, and be sure to check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or decks.

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