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Ah, the joys of summer baked and sunburned bodies, vicious mosquitoes sucking our blood like itsy bitsy vampires, "no-seeums" flirting with our faces and swimming into our eyes and mouth. What can we do to bring back the real joy of the season without shutting ourselves in the house until late October's killing frost?

Let's begin with those nasty, little summer varmints. Good Housekeeping magazine offers some great advice to insect-proof our summer and selves - not just from a comfort level but, also, because we don't wish to end up on the wrong side of the Zika virus.

1. Observe your outdoors. It's crucial to search out and get rid of all standing water, toys, plates under flowerpots, garbage in an open can, bird baths, and the list goes on and on. Anytime rain occurs or if watering outside plants, be certain to ditch any free-standing water; otherwise, it will become stagnant and the biting begins.

If you've got a small pond on your property, use mosquito repellent pellets or other such items to rid the water of any larva. On the other hand, a swimming pool needs no worry if it's chlorinated well. If your property is mosquito prone (and some are), call an exterminator to check places you can't check yourself. For example, gutters can collect water and become a prime breeding ground.

Those of us who live in these hot humid southern states need to also check window screens for teeny tiny little holes that a mosquito or other bug can fly into; after all, it's important that we keep mosquitoes away from the inside of our house as well.

I vividly remember when I was a child, my father would spray the inside of our house and then we five would pile into the car and go for a ride in the cool un-air-conditioned night and enjoy our even colder ice cream cones. Even though the house smelled to high heaven when we returned, at least we had relished a delightful experience with our little family jaunt. South Alabama is hot and buggy to say the very least, and any solace we could gain was worth a stinky house!

2. Apply insect repellent. DEET-infused spray or lotion is the best except for the most sensitive kiddies' skin; in that event, a product with picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon/eucalyptus is your best bet. Just continue to apply if remaining outside for a longer while. According to Good Housekeeping, the best product for the skin is "Sawyer Family Controlled-Release Insect Repellent Lotion 20% DEET Formula" that protects for up to eleven hours.

3. Swallow a Vitamin D1 tablet. One 100 mg tab per day keeps the skeeters away – I promise. Whatever ingredients that little white tablet contains are poisonously-rank to insects, particularly mosquitoes. I have seen them light on my arms for the past decade and then fly away; all my succulent-skin friends who followed this advice have experienced equal success. Give it a try.

4. Dress to discourage. The teeny vampires are attracted to dark colors so always try to wear light- colored clothing that preferably covers your arms and legs. (Yes, yes, I know it's hot, but better this than enduring 17,000 Itching bites.)

Believe it or not, our feet are among the most vulnerable parts for those bloodsucking critters. The one most responsible for spreading Zika tends to bite on the lower body so even if your children or you like to go barefooted, better think twice and wear high socks. Moreover, consider wearing clothes treated with the repellent permethrin to further protect your body.

5. Picnic indoors, please. The Zika carriers prefer to attack during the daylight hours, especially in the south; enjoy your food inside for peace and security.

So far is the sun is concerned, we are told we need to spend about 20 minutes in the sun for Vitamin D benefits. More than that and we tempt cancer fate. Rather than baking in the sun (and, yes, I know tanned fat looks better than plain fat), males and females of all ages can go the sunless route.

Too many products are on today's market to worry about yesteryear's orange skin and, when applied correctly, we can all look flawless, streak free, and fantastic. Consumer Reports offers the following suggestions: Mystic Tan Sun Kyssed Bronzer Spray, St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse, L'Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Summer Express Body Lotion and - my personal favorite - Fake Bake in either the 5-Minute Mousse or the Airbrush Tanning Solution.

Contact Ellen Phillips at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com

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