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Sometimes the rules and protocols for mosquito prevention go without saying. But a lot of misinformation about mosquito bites and prevention might reach your customers this upcoming mosquito season. Start the conversation with your customers and make sure they have the right information and literature. Here are some tips to share with your customers.

EXPOSURE. Suggest to customers they limit exposure to mosquitoes by:

  • Avoiding outdoor activities when they’re most active, dusk to dawn
  • Repairing any tears in the screens on windows, doors and camping gear
  • Using mosquito netting over strollers and cribs or when children sleep outdoors
  • Use insect repellent. The most effective insect repellents in the United States include one of three active ingredients:
  1. DEET at 20 percent and higher is the most effective at repelling mosquitoes, according to the Centers for Disease Control
  2. Icaridin (also called picaridin)
  3. Oil of lemon eucalyptus (a plant-based compound)

Insect repellent temporarily repels mosquitoes and ticks. DEET may offer longer-lasting protection. Whichever product they use, customers must read the label before it’s applied. If a spray repellent is used, it should be applied outdoors and away from food.

Suggest to customers if they’re also using sunscreen, put it on first, about 20 minutes before applying the repellent. Avoid products that combine sunscreen and repellent, because sunscreen often needs reapplying more often than repellent.

©Lokibaho | iStock
Bill Kolbe, B.C.E., enjoying a “mosquito-free” day on his deck, while staying cool with a misting fan.

According to the package directions, these products are generally safe for children and adults, with a few exceptions:

  • Don’t use DEET-containing products on infants younger than 2 months old
  • Don’t let young children get DEET or icaridin-containing products on their hands or faces
  • Don’t use oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under 3 years old
  • Don’t apply repellent under clothing
  • Don’t apply repellent over sunburns, cuts, wounds or rashes
  • When indoors, wash with soap and water to remove any re- maining repellent

Suggest to customers that they consult their physician before applying permethrin to children’s clothing. Permethrin is an insecticide and insect repellent used for additional protection. The product is applied to clothing and outdoor gear, not skin. Check the product label for specific application instructions. Some sporting goods stores sell clothing pretreated with permethrin.

Use protective clothing and gear. Weather permitting, wear:

  • Long sleeves
  • Socks and closed-toe shoes
  • Long pants, possibly tucked into the tops of socks
  • Light colors
  • A hat that protects ears and neck or one with mosquito netting that covers the face

HOME BREEDING. Suggest to customers they reduce mosquitoes around their homes by eliminating standing water, which mosquitoes breed in. To keep their houses and yards free of mosquito pools, suggest they:

  • Unclog roof gutters
  • Empty children’s wading pools at least once a week, but preferably more often
  • Change water in birdbaths at least weekly
  • Get rid of old tires in yards
  • Empty outdoor flower pots regularly or store them upside down so they can’t collect water
  • Drain fire pits if water collects there
Insect sprays and lotions are important to ourdoorsmen and to those trying to avoid contracting mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and encephalitis.

DON’T HEAD INDOORS. It’s important to remember that the two species of mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus are day-time feeders.

Strategically placed box fans (20 inches in size) pointed toward people outdoors will create enough air movement to keep mosquitoes off customers while they are dining or enjoying their deck. Keep in mind that hungry mosquitoes may try to overcome the air currents. If they do, just put the fans on high and they will move to other areas.

Customers may ask you about pedestal fans that oscillate and when connected to a garden hose, will produce a mist. The combination of air currents and misting water will repel mosquitoes and other flying insects. Flying insects spend a lot of energy using their flight muscles. Most do not fly during rain and windy days.

Bill Kolbe, B.C.E., is owner of Wakolbe Consulting in Denville, N.J. Email him at wakolbe@gmail.com.