There has been significant media coverage this spring regarding the Zika virus. While there have been no confirmed transmissions of the disease in the United States, it does bring to the forefront the threat of mosquito-borne diseases including West Nile virus, chikungunya and dengue fever.

How do you protect your and your family from mosquitoes this summer? The first step is to make the green space around your home as unwelcome to mosquitoes as possible. The National Pest Management Association recommends homeowners do the following to help lessen the threat of mosquitoes:

  • Eliminate or reduce mosquito-breeding sites around the home. This includes birdbaths, flowerpots, grill covers, baby pools, unopened swimming pools, tires and other objects where water collects.
  • Remove unneeded vegetation or trash from around any source of standing water that cannot be changed, dumped or removed.
  • Screen windows, doors, and other openings with fine mesh, sealing around all screen edges and keeping doors and windows shut to prevent entry.
  • Use mesh that is 18 x 18 strands per inch, or finer.
  • Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

The second step is taking steps to protect you and your family. The experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following tips to avoid mosquito bites and make your :

  • Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin or IR3535. Some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provides long-lasting protection.
  • If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
  • Do not spray insect repellent on the skin under your clothing; treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
  • When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours and use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
  • Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.

For more information on protecting your family and green spaces from mosquitoes, visit http://www.pestworld.org/ or http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html