If you have ever had to manage the aftermath of itchy mosquito bites on young children then you will know how miserable it can make them, particularly if they have been bitten multiple times.
And boy is it challenging to stop them scratching that itch!
You want your kids outdoors in the sunshine having fun and not stuck indoors tapping away on electronic devices but there is no surer way to put them off than allowing them to form a target for the local mosquito population. So, what can you do to keep your kids bite-free outside?
Here are some top tips to keep Mosquitoes off your kids outdoors and in the garden
- Standing water – get rid of any standing water and avoid ponds if at all possible particularly at dawn and dusk. Paddling pools should have their water content changed regularly as fresh water is of far less interest to mosquitoes – this is probably something you will want to do anyway for hygiene reasons. Don’t forget children’s toys lying around and birdbaths. If you do have water outside deliberately like pet dishes and birdbaths, then change it frequently so it is fresh. Mosquitoes breed in standing or stagnant water so if you can eliminate it then you will really de-bug your environment. Mosquitoes can’t fly very far so if they are unable to breed in your garden, you are more than halfway to solving the problem. Pool parties are of no interest to mosquitoes either as they dislike chlorinated water
- Insect repellent- go to town on this and you will need to keep reapplying it particularly if the kids are in and out of the water. Deet works, everyone knows that, and is supposedly safe for all ages but who want to use toxic chemicals? Not great for you or the environment. There are loads of Citronella based alternatives which are effective to varying degrees or why not try Baxter’s Bug Banish – no alcohol, no chemicals and no parabens. You will feel reassured that there is nothing harmful when you apply it to your child’s super soft skin. Bug Banish contains oil of lemon eucalyptus which is far more effective than citronella and lasts much longer too so you don’t need to keep reapplying it
- Cover feet – this is tricky with kids who love to run around barefoot and are in and out of the water all the time. But it is a known fact that mosquitoes love feet because they are attracted by sweat and bacteria. Keep feet and ankles covered where possible
- Dress light- mosquitoes love limbs and also are attracted to dark colors like many other flying and biting insects so try and cover up if you can. Towel Ponchos are great for kids who are in and out of the water allowing them to dry off and play without restricting their fun. There are some fantastic themed designs – they won’t want to take them off!
- Sheltered eating – if you want to eat outside then make a wigwam or tent canopy with mosquito netting, a bit of creative design could construct something quite exciting and this will offer a refuge from all biting and stinging insects which may be attracted by the food, not just mosquitoes. Scented oil candles for the table as well as looking and smelling divine will discourage mosquitoes, aim for lemongrass, citronella and geranium
- Lighting – candles with either citronella or geraniol which is an alcohol with a floral scent are effective particularly into the darker hours, geraniol is probably the more efficient of the two substances at repelling bugs. Obviously, candles and small children don’t always mix well so follow the rule of leaving neither alone at any time unsupervised. For something on a grander scale, consider a mosquito-repelling patio lantern or luminaire which can sit on a flat surface or be hung up. Sodium lamps or LED lights can also deter insects but all of these products have a radius beyond which they are not effective so you need to consider the dimensions of the area you are using quite carefully
- Clever planting ideas – include different flowers and herbs in your garden all of which will discourage mosquitoes and flies and also look and smell lovely. Marigolds and chrysanthemums are top of the floral list and herbs like mint, basil, garlic, lavender and rosemary are also unpopular with mosquitoes and great to harvest as part of your culinary efforts
The Zika Virus
There is no real need to panic at the moment as this disease is still mainly in South America but the World Health Organisation anticipate a real explosion in the forecast number of cases in the next couple of years.
Zika is not harmful to young children and usually causes mild flu-like symptoms but it is a real risk to pregnant women and can lead to birth defects in the unborn child.
Battling with bugs outdoors is all about being prepared. There is no one solution on this list which will get rid of mosquitoes unless you want to coat everything permanently in a layer of Deet. Instead, you can work with nature instead of against it, and take more permanent and eco-friendly steps to make life outdoors this summer a happy and bite-free time for your children.
Clever planting reduces your garden or yard as a source of interest to mosquitoes, remove standing water and you have effectively eliminated their breeding grounds. Using ‘on the day’ deterrents such as bug off lighting and a natural bug banishing spray means you can fight these pesky mosquitoes on all fronts. You can even incorporate bug control into your party decorations – a pretty tray with natural sprays and essential oils always goes down well either on a side table or in the bathroom. Include repellent bracelets and citronella wipes too. Make a feature of the essential oils so people feel that they are in a scented haven rather than an insect warzone.
The kids won’t feel restricted either and are free to get on and do what kids do best which is have fun and play.