The best tip to avoid mosquitoes is to not go where they are. However, living in Florida makes this very difficult because mosquitoes are everywhere. The following are tips so you can enjoy the outdoors in Jacksonville.
- During periods of excessively high mosquito incidence, stay indoors as much as possible
- Wear protective clothing during times and in locations of high mosquito incidence. No, this doesn't mean finding chemical suits, respirators, and rubber gloves to wear. Protective clothing includes long pants, long-sleeve shirts, shoes and socks. Be aware mosquitoes can bite right through T-shirts and other lightweight, tight-fitting clothing.
- Use an EPA registered insect repellent before going into high-risk areas or when outside during high-risk times. The most effective protection may be obtained through the use of products containing at least 20 to 35% DEET for adults and up to 10% DEET for children. Other excellent active ingredients include Picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow the directions carefully and do not over apply. Mosquitoes will bite unprotected skin, so apply repellent to all exposed areas of the body as well as to your clothing. Don't allow repellent to get in your eyes, mouth or nose. (The Centers for Disease Control has information that answers various questions regarding insect repellent use and safety.)
- Keep window screens and screened rooms in good repair. Screen doors should open outward and have automatic closing devices and latches to prevent them from being accidentally left ajar.
- Check around your home for areas where mosquitoes may be breeding and eliminate any standing water. Pet dishes and bird baths need to be checked and refilled a minimum of every 5 days to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
The University of Florida Cooperative Extention Service of IFAS (Institute of Food and Agritcultural Sciences) has an information page on the internet about protecting horses from mosquitoes and other biting insects.
*Some people may be sensitive to DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) and experience skin reactions such as rashes. A very small number of more serious cases involving children (including a few deaths) have been reported that may have been linked to the repellent. For this reason, health officials recommend that products containing DEET not be used on infants under two months. For children and infants over two months, it is recommended that products containing low amounts of DEET be used according to the label. Those with concerns should consult their family physician or pediatrician. For those who are sensitive to DEET, products containing oil of citronella may provide an alternative. (For more information, refer to the Center for Disease Control's FAQ's for using insect repellents, or the American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP, for information on safely applying DEET on children.)
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