Whether it is camping, picnics, bike riding or just a backyard get-together, you are bound to encounter stinging, biting or blood-sucking insects.
Some people are allergic to specific insects’ venom. Certain insect bites, stings or secretions may be poisonous or spread disease. But mostly, bites and stings are simply painful or itchy annoyances that soon will go away.
Keeping the Bugs at Bay
We cannot eliminate insects, although, we can learn to make our meetings less unpleasant and more infrequent. Here are some tidbits of information that will make you less palatable to the pests. Not all of these are appropriate all the time. A little strategic planning is well-advised.
- Cover up. Wear long sleeves and tuck pants into socks or boots.
- Repel. When necessary, apply an insect repellent. The most effective products contain a chemical known as DEET. This should keep the swarming bugs and mosquitoes away, but will not protect against an angry bee. (Do not use DEET repellents on infants younger than 1 year old. For older children, use it sparingly and make sure the solution is very dilute — no more than 5 to 10 percent. Adults should avoid using strong solutions of DEET as well.) If you use a more “natural” product, be prepared to apply it more frequently. Products such as citronella candles may be useful for campouts and picnics. Just be careful about fires.
- Physical avoidance. Stay away from known insect hangouts. Stay inside when insects come out in droves, such as at dawn and dusk.
- Do not invite them to dine. Keep outdoor food covered, especially strong-smelling and the sugary foods and drinks that wasps and bees adore. Clean up spills immediately. Seal up garbage cans tightly.
- A rose by any other name. Do you like perfumes and sweet-smelling shampoos and cosmetics? The bugs love them, too. Use unscented cosmetics and skip the fragrances.
- Be drab. Avoid wearing bright colors, floral prints and flashy jewelry. The insects will mistake you for a flower. People often wonder why insects seem more attracted to some people than others. It Is because of the scents and colors.
- Do not make them mad. It is true what they say about staying calm and quiet around bees. Certain flying, stinging insects will harass or attack you if you get them agitated. When angered, some insects emit airborne chemicals — pheromones — that bring others of their species flying in for reinforcement.