Don’t Let Pests Take a Bite Out of Your Vacation
Ah, summer. Beaming sun, sugar-white sand, crystal-clear waters and…bug bites? If stings and bites aren’t part of your toes-in-the-sand, book-in-hand vacation plans, read on to discover how you can protect yourself from these summer pests.
There’s nothing exotic about these biting pests. Grade-A blood suckers, mosquitoes flourish from summer to early fall, breeding in standing water. And unfortunately, fresh rains, tidal pools and stagnant lakes give them plenty of opportunities to populate.
Mosquitoes like shady, windless areas, so avoid these places from sunrise to sunset. Stop their itchy red welts before they start by slathering insect repellant containing DEET on top of your sunscreen and wearing mosquito-resistant clothing.
Could a pest ever be more aptly named? These tiny buggers are almost impossible to spot, but they pack a mean punch. Peaking from May through October, biting gnats go by many names: biting midges, sand flies and, the more whimsically named, punkies.
The term no-see-um covers several species of small biting flies, which lurk in shady marshes as well as sunny, open beaches. When planning a trip, be sure to call ahead to resorts or hotels at your lake or beach destination and ask about the fly forecast. Windy days mean fewer biters to interrupt your sunbathing.
Unfortunately, repellant isn’t always effective in keeping these little beasties away. But pack your insect repellant containing DEET or No Natz spray anyway, check the weather for wind and wear full-length clothing when you can.
Wondering why fly season lasts from high summer through October? It’s because dog flies lay their eggs on manure or rotting fruit in farm country, and fly south on the cold north winds — just in time for beach season. And just as quickly as they arrive, these buggers are gone again.
Dog flies prefer pigs and cows, but these blood suckers will happily settle for a bit of beached human. To keep the biters at bay, stay covered and wear some tough insect repellent made with DEET.
Yellow flies are another large fly that packs a painful bite. Most active in late afternoon on cloudy days, these stealthily quiet fliers will attack any exposed flesh, causing large, itchy welts to form.
Yellow flies are on the wing from March to November, though peak season is April through June. They prefer cattle and love to bother dogs, but humans are fair game, too.
Managing yellow fly populations can be a losing battle, but traps can be effective in smaller areas, like backyards, campsites and swimming pools.
Wearing insect repellant containing DEET and spending your time in the water can also protect you from their bites. And if neither of those options work, just remember that major swarms end in a matter of days, so they’ll be gone in no time!
With speeds topping 30 miles an hour, horse flies love heat, humidity and your favorite body of water. These powerful fliers prefer to feed on nectar, but females need blood meals to reproduce. Yuck! And worst of all, these sizable beasts are visual hunters who’ll find a host and chase them down during the heat of the day.
Active on hot, sunny and windless days, horse flies pack a strong, stallion-like punch. They tear at the skin with their razorsharp mouthparts, ensuring that no bite ever goes unnoticed.
So how do you escape their painful grip? If you’re at the beach, avoid marshes and dune grass. If you’re at the lake, stay away from thick woodlands. To avoid a run-in with these biting beasties, wear long clothing, slather your body with insect repellant containing DEET and avoid windless, sunny days, especially during July — their peak breeding season.
Invading America through the port of Mobile in the 1930s, these stinging menaces have spread throughout the Southeast. In fact, they probably enjoy your little piece of paradise almost as much as you do.
Few things hurt as much as a fire ant’s sting, so when it comes to these fearsome critters, avoid their nests at all times. Dark brown in color, their haphazard homes resemble upturned earth. But if you look closer, you’ll see thousands of squirmy ants moving around. Stand too close, and your feet and ankles will become covered in fire ants, leading to dozens of stinging red welts.
While the tides keep these pests off prime beach real estate, look out for them on the dunes as you make your way to and from the shore. If you encounter these little buggers on the beach, especially in a protected dune area, there isn’t much you can do except wear flip flops and watch where you step!
Enjoy Your Slice of Paradise
Lake and beach pests aren’t all harmless dragonflies and graceful water striders. So when it comes to being bite-free on the water, apply DEET-based insect repellants over your sunscreen, wear flip flops or beach shoes, stay in the water or set up a breezy fan, and wear comfortable, lightweight clothing that provides lots of coverage.
Be sure to stay away from standing water like puddles and ponds, or long grasses where bugs can hide. Keep your yard dry and set up netting or a few citronella candles to help keep pests at bay, especially on windless evenings.
Though we can’t do much about the pests that spoil lakes and beaches, we’re here to protect your personal paradise — your backyard. Preserve your backyard sunbathing by calling Stark today.