Remember when your mom used to lick her thumb and wash your face with her germs which made no sense because that little bit of dirt couldn’t have been nearly as bad as someone else’s spit on you? Did you know there’s something worse than that? Let me traumatize you for a moment. When I was 9 or 10 my family went on a day camping trip and we took my dad’s new friend along for the ride. For purposes of this public blog we’ll call him Bob. Which is very generous considering he called me Penelope Poopin’ Dorf. That day we all played in the stream, fished, had a picnic, hiked etc. It was a great day. Except for those darn mosquitoes.

On the drive home in my dad’s ’65 Ford Falcon, I was the lucky one (sarcasm right there folks) who had the privilege of sitting next to Bob. He noticed that I was was constantly scratching my newly acquired mosquito bites. He told me to lick them and they’d quit itching. I thought Bob was crazy. I refused. I believe Bob considered himself a mosquito-bite-pro. He must have spoke with convincing authority because soon my mom considered him a mosquito-bite-pro as well. She told me to do as Bob suggested and lick them. I begrudgingly licked the bites on one of my arms. I wanted to scratch them again almost immediately. It didn’t work. At all. So I scratched again. Bob told me to lick again. I refused, saying it didn’t work. Here comes the horrifying-probably should have had therapy-moment that nightmares are made of. Bob licked his finger and began applying his stranger saliva to my arm! My mom leaned over the back of her seat and joined in. Soon I had mom and stranger spit all up and down my arms, legs, neck, face, feet and hands. I sat there in shock. Feeling as if I’d just been contaminated by a terrible plague. And very itchy. Thanks, Bob! This is why my adult idea of camping is in a Holiday Inn.

I’m a grown up now, and while the word spit-plague comes to mind when I think of mosquito bites, things are different now regarding mosquitoes. I’m a grown-up so I pay a little more attention to words like Zika, Dengue Fever, Malaria and West Nile when thinking of mosquito bites, especially now that I have my own kids to think about. I’ve learned there are precautions to see that our home is safe from mosquitoes, especially since I live on an irrigation canal.

Did you know that standing water is a mosquito’s breeding ground? Common sense says we need to get rid of standing water then. Here are some typical standing water areas and how to deal with them:

*Pet dishes – Simply change the water daily.
*Rain barrels – Put a screen on them.
*Kiddie pool – Change the water daily.
*Water in the bird bath – Change the water daily.
*Clear gutters of debris which will hold up water.
*Garbage cans, old tires, flower pots, toys or buckets that may have filled with
rainwater – Check them weekly and dump them if needed.

In dealing with adult mosquitoes (the blood suckers):

*Keep grass short and weeds pulled.
*Place screens on doors and windows and keep them in good repair making it
harder to get in. If you don’t have screens, keep doors shut.
*Run your air conditioner. Because of airflow, mosquitoes have a hard time
detecting the scent of warm-blooded bodies when the air-conditioning is running.
Not only that, people typically keep their doors and windows shut when the air
conditioning is running- making it harder for them to get into your home.
*When going out doors use a repellent containing DEET.
*Wear long sleeves and pants when possible, and shoes rather than flip-flops or
sandals.

Following these tips should help in preventing mosquito bites so you can think less about Zika, Dengue Fever, Malaria, West Nile and stranger spit and think more about enjoying your summer.

Written by Trina of Barrier Pest Control.