Summer is the perfect time for outdoor activities like swimming, picnicking, grilling and fishing. But in the Midwest, those fun times can be put to a stop by bugs like mosquitos and ticks. Keep yourself and your family safe from bugs by following these tips!

There are many ways to protect yourself against biting mosquitos, but some are not what you may think. Contrary to popular belief, citronella candles are not the best way to repel bugs from your yard or patio. The essential oil citronella must be placed directly between your body and the mosquitos in order to be effective. Because mosquitos are low flying bugs that usually travel near your ankles, it is very unlikely that the citronella from a candle will actually deter them from the area.

Instead of burning citronella, try planting small herbs like basil or peppermint. Both plants give off oils that repel the pesky bugs. Mosquitos also hate the smell of lavender, so they will steer clear of any yard with the plant in it. For the best repelling results, plant the lavandin variety of lavender because of its high concentration of camphor, which produces the smell mosquitos dislike.

Certain types of clothing can also protect you from the bugs. Mosquitos are attracted to darker colors, so wearing light-colored clothing will keep the bugs away (and keep you cool in the summer heat)! Additionally, tightly woven, athletic material creates a stronger barrier between you and bugs than cotton or linen clothing.

If you are looking for a mosquito-repelling spray, consider choosing one that contains DEET. Although the chemical has a bad reputation, it is safe and effective when applied correctly. DEET can be harmful when inhaled, so it is safer to spray a small amount directly into your hand and then rub the spray onto the rest of your body.


Ticks are pesky critters that carry a multitude of bacteria and viruses that can cause life-threatening diseases. The best way to stay tick-free is by checking your body for the small bugs after you spend any time outdoors, not just after leaving wooded areas. Many tick bites occur in gardens and backyards, but most people do not think of checking for ticks after those activities. Ticks must be latched for 36 hours before they can infect a body, so removing ticks early is crucial.

Similar to mosquitos, light-colored clothing can help prevent tick bites. It is much easier to spot a tick on a white shirt than on a black shirt. Wearing lighter colors makes ticks more obvious to see so you can remove them quicker. Although it gets hot in the summer, wearing long pants with socks tucked in can create a wall between your skin and harmful ticks. Depending on the weather, this may be a preventative measure to consider.

The landscaping around your house could also protect your family from ticks. Lining your yard or garden with a thin layer of wood chips will dry out and kill any ticks that try to enter your property.

There are also chemical ways to avoid tick bites this summer. Permethrin is an anti-parasite that kills tick nymphs, which are most likely to carry Lyme disease. Permethrin is available in direct-application bottles that can be sprayed on the body or clothing. The chemical can also be purchased to spray on your yard or garden for season-long tick protection.

If you plan to be outside this summer, you must also plan for bugs. Stay safe from mosquitos and ticks by wearing the proper clothing, constantly checking for bites and safely applying bug repellants. We hope you have a happy, safe summer!