- Thomson Reuters
Mosquitoes are the most obnoxious creatures on Earth. Not only do their bites itch like crazy, but they can spread some devastating – and sometimes deadly – diseases.
The bugs are now spreading Zika locally in Miami, so some Americans on the US mainland have to start worrying about that virus, too, in addition to the others mosquitoes spread (in varying degrees) here already: dengue, chikungunya, and West Nile.
While experts don’t expect Zika to advance past the Gulf states, it is still always good idea to protect yourself and your home from mosquitoes.
Luckily, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some specific steps you can take to kill as many of the infuriating creatures as possible.
To protect your home
- Eliminate as much standing water as you can. Mosquitoes can breed in just a thimble full of water, so it doesn’t take much. Once a week, empty and clean any containers that could hold water. This includes: tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, and garbages. Cover any containers that could contain water if you can. If they don’t have a cover, put wire mesh on them with holes smaller than 1/10 of an inch so adult mosquitoes can’t fit inside. If you have water that isn’t for drinking and can’t be dumped out, add a larvicide to kill young mosquitoes. Spray an outdoor insect repellent in the dark, humid areas where the pests rest, like under furniture.
- Use air conditioning. If you open the windows, make sure you use screens that don’t have holes in them. Spray an indoor insect repellent in dark, humid places where mosquitoes rest like under the sink, in closets, under furniture, and in the laundry room.
- Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
To protect yourself
Use bug spray (here are the ones that actually work) on skin not covered by clothes when you’re outside where mosquitoes could be. The species that spread the Zika virus bite during the day. Zika can be spread through sex, so use condoms if you’re in an area where the virus is spreading or if you or your partner recently traveled to one. Don’t travel to areas where Zika is spreading, especially if you’re pregnant or planning to be soon. The CDC has a list of locations to avoid.
Most people who get Zika don’t show the typical flu-like symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell if you caught the virus. If you’re not sure, it’s best to see a doctor and get tested.
There is currently no vaccine or treatment, so the best way to protect yourself against Zika is to stop the mosquitoes that spread it from biting you in the first place.