Don’t Let Pests Spoil Your Outdoor Activities

As it starts to get warmer across the U.S. mainland, we’re beginning to plan more outdoor activities or just think of new ways to communicate with nature in the great outdoors.  Whether it’s gardening, swimming, hiking, fishing, or visiting our national parks, some of these outside activities might lead to some unwanted close encounters. I’m not talking about mountain lions, bears, wolves or snakes. I’m talking about other much smaller creatures—some creepy crawlers or flying insects. I know, I know…not all insects are bad. In fact, many invertebrates are actually good pollinators, like bees and butterflies. Others have a positive impact on the environment such as ladybugs and earthworms. The creepy crawlers I’m concerned about are those pests such as mosquitoes and ticks that can actually carry diseases. Those are the ones we want to avoid at all cost, if possible.

image of birdbath with standing waterGiven the unusually wet days we’ve been having in certain areas of the United States, we can anticipate a larger number of mosquitoes in urban and rural areas. A first piece of advice is to get rid of these flying pests with minimal use of chemicals? The most important thing you can do is remove their habitat (where they live and breed) in areas around your home. You have to eliminate standing water from rain gutters, old tires, toys, any open container where mosquitoes can breed. By the way, mosquitoes do not need a large quantity of water to breed and multiply. Did you know that over 150 mosquitoes can come out of a tablespoon of stagnant water? So, if you have bird baths or wading pools, please change the water at least once a week to prevent mosquito breeding. If you’re going to spend some time outdoors, use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent when necessary. Above all, read the label and follow directions closely. If there have been warnings of increased mosquito borne diseases in your area, such as the West Nile virus, check with your state or local health department for more information on mosquito control measures being taken where you live.

When enjoying the great outdoors, other biting pests such as ticks may carry Lyme disease. Personal protective measures are necessary, but repellents are effective as well. So, don’t let these pests spoil your vacation in the great outdoors.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force.  Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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