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5½ Ways to Prevent Itchy Catskills Bug Bites
They’re an unfortunate part of life around here. We wait all winter for warm weather, then immediately get attacked by mosquitos, gnats, noseeums, and whatever that thing on the right is. You then spend the next few days alternately itching like crazy or being in pain where you scratched too much and have an angry, bleeding sore.
Whether you’re gardening, fishing, exercising, or just trying to relax on your porch, these nasty bugs always come in for the kill. Technically, you don’t even have to be outside to get bit! There have been several nights this summer where I woke up in my well-screened house only to find 5-10 bug bites all over my arms, legs, and neck.
Luckily, there are a few ways to prevent these itchy, scratchy, Catskills bug bites, which we’ll cover today.
#1: Use Insect Repellent
I know; it’s sticky and gross, and you always wonder if it’ll give you some new form of cancer in 30 years. But insect repellent is one of the best ways to avoid bug bites, especially if you’re trying to do anything outside.
DEET sprays are considered one of the best options for bug defense. While at a high enough concentration the liquid can eat through plastic, the EPA considers it safe and effective when used as directed.
If that sounds a little too scary, Picaridin sprays are another possibility.
There are also many options made from essential oils if you’d (understandably) like to go the all-natural route. You might smell like a Woodstock shop when you’re done, but it’s a small price to pay for fewer bug bites, right?
#2: Dress for… Success?
From my understanding (and personal experience), there’s really no right answer to the tight vs. loose clothing debate when it comes to bugs. Let’s be honest: noseeums will find a way in no matter what.
Your best defense, clothing-wise, is to treat clothes with permethrin when you go outside.
And if you’re really serious about keeping bugs at bay, you could always try bug body netting, a hilarious but probably effective solution.
#3: Encourage a Mighty Wind
Ever notice how breezes seem to make the little buggers disappear for a few blissful seconds? They don’t do well with wind, so going out when the air’s moving is your best bet. Fortunately, there’s usually a nice breeze coming through our mountains!
If there isn’t any wind, you can use downturned fans around the area you’re hanging out in to blow them on their way. Of course, this only works if you’re relaxing on your porch, deck, or anywhere else with electricity.
#4: Remove Sources of Standing Water
This is common knowledge, but may be harder to carry out than you think. Remember that anything can become a source of stagnant water – upturned buckets, old tires, low spots in the grass or driveway, even seemingly innocuous decorations like bird baths. While it’s not fun to go around your lawn identifying hot spots, removing these can do a lot to keep bugs down. Of course, there’s not much you can do if there’s a pond or slow brook running through your backyard…
#5: Keep Doors and Windows Shut
Not what you wanted to hear, I know. But noseeums can get through even well-knit screens and cracks. And of course, open doors will let everything in.
Sometimes you just have to keep the windows open, so try to keep lights off to avoid attracting them.
#5½: Avoid Peak Bug Times and Exerting Yourself
I can’t call this more than half a tip, because in my experience all day long is a bad time for bugs, and on 9 out of 10 occasions the only reason you’re outside is to accomplish something. But supposedly biting bugs are most active in the morning and evening, and if you’re sweating or breathing heavily, they’re more likely to find and attack you.
Bonus Tip: How to Deal with Bites
So you’ve been bit, possibly multiple times. I feel your pain. Here’s what you can do:
Apply an anti-itch gel. We have used this Benadryl one for years, and I’ve tried others, but they never seem to work as well. This is the magic stuff for treating all those awful gnat bites that plague us through the summer.
If you don’t have any anti-itch medication, an ice pack may also help with swelling and discomfort.
Take an antihistamine to help with your body’s immune reaction to the bite. For painful bites, a pain reliever like ibuprofen can help.
Keep Your Defenses Up!
By following these prevention tips for Catskills bug bites, you should notice a decrease in those itchy welts you get all summer. Now go enjoy these lovely summer days!