Protecting yourself from mosquitos and ticks

Here are tips to avoiding mosquitoes and other pesky creatures.

As you begin spending more time outdoors around the fire enjoying the cooler weather, you will no doubt be affected by insects. Mosquitoes and ticks can be more problematic than most because they are well-known to bite people.

Not only can a bug bite be painful and irritating, but it can also lead to the transference of disease. Whether you get bit outside of your own home or while camping in the wilderness, mosquitoes and ticks can be responsible for problems that are more than just itchy.

Mosquito safety
If you think that you have an infestation of mosquitoes in your back yard, consider this: Mosquitoes are known to swarm in groups of thousands, even in developed areas. There is a large number of mosquito species in the U.S. and many of them can transmit dangerous diseases such as West Nile, malaria and the Zika virus. Additionally, mosquito bites are inconvenient because they can cause a rash or infection, especially if you scratch them often. Be sure you stay up on news for diseases prevalent in your area.

Luckily, protecting yourself from mosquitoes is relatively straightforward. To begin with, dress in clothing that covers your arms and legs if you are going to be outside for an extended period of time. Dressing in layers is helpful in protecting yourself from getting bit as well as staying warm. Also, try to avoid areas around standing water if you don't want to run into too many mosquitoes. Damp areas are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes!

Taking care of ticks
Technically, ticks are not even insects; they are arachnids just like spiders and scorpions. One of the major differences is that ticks function as parasites, not predators. And while mosquito bites usually leave an itchy, irritating bite, a parasitic tick will actually remain attached to the body. Ticks can bury remain undetected for days, surviving off of your blood.

That said, ticks do have some things in common with mosquitoes. They can transmit harmful diseases to people. Smaller parasites, bacteria and other pathogens live inside of ticks and are transferred to animals that are bitten, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ticks are well known for giving people Lyme disease. To avoid ticks, start by avoiding places with brush piles and long grasses. Even if you are traveling through an area with ticks at high speeds, they can still latch onto your skin. Most bug sprays that contain DEET will repel ticks. If you're planning on spending a lot of time outside in a place that might contain ticks, make sure you cover your arms and legs.

Even if you follow the proper preventative measures, there is still the chance you get bit. If that occurs, there is no need to panic. Simply locate a pair of tweezers to remove the tick from your skin. Remember: It is critical to remove the entire arachnid. If you only remove part of it, the remaining segment can still cause infection or aggravate your skin. If you are worried that you were bitten and acquired a disease, save the tick that you removed from your skin and show a doctor. Lyme disease is usually accompanied by markings in the shape of a ring around the bite. If your skin is showing abnormalities that aren't going away, make sure you see a doctor very soon.

Other types of problematic pests
The more time you spend outside, the more insects you are likely to encounter. Horseflies, for example, are another species of bug that can deliver a nasty bite. Spiders and snakes cause more problems because they may be poisonous. In the state of New York, there are three types of snakes that are poisonous to people: timber rattlesnakes, massasaugas and copperheads. If you see one of these snakes out and about, the best thing to do is avoid it altogether. The venomous snakes of New York aren't aggressive, according to the New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Honeybees can be responsible for irritating stings. Most people have a moderate reaction to bee stings, but if you are allergic, you could have to seek medical attention right away. Remember that bees are good for their surroundings. If you have a high bee population, don't try to get rid of them. Instead, try to avoid them as best you can.