Avoiding mosquitoes is especially important this year, as the Zika virus has spread to the U.S. with a growing number of domestic cases in Florida. Pregnant women and their partners should be especially concerned because the virus is linked to severe birth defects, neurological problems, and malformed joints.
For most Americans, Zika virus will not be a concern ― experts agree it won’t spread to most of the country ― but it’s still worth avoiding the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries not only Zika, but the chikungunya and West Nile viruses, the latter of which is in the United States. Plus, there’s all that itching!
Want to reduce your exposure? The video above details five really simple things you can do, according to Health.com.
As the video points out, the most effective thing you can do to keep mosquitoes away is to use a spray repellant with DEET, rather than relying on bracelets or candles that don’t work. A 2015 study from New Mexico State University found that any repellant that contains DEET will “strongly repel” mosquitos, and that those that contain didn’t contain DEET had mixed results. (Oddly, that same study oddly discovered that Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume repelled mosquitoes for about two hours.)
It’s also a good idea to stay away from standing water. Any little puddle can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so make sure your yard or balcony doesn’t have any buckets, tires, cups or unused fountains collecting rainwater.
Sadly, some of your favorite summer activities, such as drinking beer outdoors and exercising outside, might actually attract mosquitoes.
When you drink alcohol, your body temperature rises and you might sweat, and the CO2 released from the beer might beckon the mosquitoes. Drinking just one beer increases your mosquito appeal, according to a Japanese study.
Likewise, your body releases more CO2 when you work out; mix that with your sweat and you’ve become a magnet for mosquitoes (Health.com recommends keeping your warmup and cool down routines indoors).
Be sure to check out the rest of the video above to learn more.