By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON – Many families have been enjoying the summer weather by camping, cooking out, going to parks and spending their free time outdoors, but an overwhelming number of insects have made the season a little less enjoyable.
Bites from ticks and mosquitoes in particular are a health risk, one that that could bring serious consequences.
The most common kind of tick in West Virginia is the blacklegged tick, otherwise known as the deer tick. Associated with Lyme disease, the black-legged tick can easily survive the harsh winter months, which explains why they are so prevalent during the summer.
If a tick comes into contact with the skin, it usually takes 28-48 hours to become embedded. If a tick sticks to the skin, it can be removed with tweezers. The area should then be washed well with soap and water.
Mosquito-borne diseases include diseases illnesses caused by viruses (also called arboviruses) and parasites, which are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.
The most commonly reported mosquito-borne illness in West Virginia is La Crosse encephalitis; however, travel-associated mosquito-borne diseases (such as dengue fever and malaria) are also reported by West Virginia residents each year. Mosquito-borne diseases are most common during the summer and fall months, when mosquitoes are active.
Steps to take to prevent mosquito-borne illness includes removing containers that collect water near homes (where mosquitoes lay eggs) and the regular use of mosquito repellants. Spray repellants should not be used directly on young children. If out between dawn and dusk, long sleeves and long pants should be worn. Mosquito netting and screening can also be used to keep the insects at bay.
Bee and wasp stings are also a problem, most notably for those who have allergies to the insects. Because yards are the perfect place for bees and wasps (providing shelter, water, food and flowers), those with allergies should be extremely careful when spending time outdoors.
Yellow jackets, hornets and wasps, in particular, feed on human food and enjoy sweets, so making sure garbage is picked up is extremely important. When cooking out or hosting outdoor parties, all of the food should be appropriately covered during the event or thrown out when the event is finished.
The most important measure to take, however, is making sure these insects don’t make their way into the home. Leaving doors and windows open, leaving indoor pets outside for lengthy periods of time (where bugs can make contact with them), and bringing outdoor objects indoors (like shoes, flower pots and tools) seem to be the biggest cause of insects coming into the home.