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Take steps to reduce the risks of tick, mosquito bites

With warmer weather finally here, the urge to get outdoors will be strong.

And that puts people in proximity to the pests that can take the fun out of summer outings.

Michiganders are urged to remember to take precautions against mosquitos, ticks and the diseases they carry. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is providing guidance for safely choosing and using insect repellants and insecticides.

Insect repellents applied to the skin are among the most popular and effective products used to avoid insect bites. Other commonly used repellants include torches, table-top diffusers, candles and coils.

When used as directed, Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents with one of these active ingredients are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women: DEET; Picaridin, known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the U.S.; IR3535; oil of lemon eucalyptus or OLE; and para-menthane-diol, or PMD; 2-undecanone.

Larvicides and adulticides also can provide temporary control of mosquitos. Larvicides are products designed to be applied directly to water to control mosquito larvae. Adulticides are used in fogging and spraying to control adult mosquitoes. Both options can temporarily reduce the mosquito population in an area but do not provide long-term solutions against mosquitos.

Whether an insect repellent or insecticide are used, always remember to read and follow all label directions.

A safe alternative to homeowners applying insecticides themselves is hiring a mosquito control business. Mosquito control businesses are required to be licensed to apply pesticides in Michigan and must meet certain financial and experience requirements including proof of insurance, meet certain experience requirements, and employ certified pesticide applicators who have passed MDARD proficiency examinations. A list of Michigan firms licensed to apply pesticides is available online at https://www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-1569_16988_35288-11993–,00.html.

Other steps to take to safely reduce mosquito populations include:

— Removing any puddles of water or standing water around the home to reduce breeding sites;

— Keeping grass and shrubs trimmed short, reducing places for flying (adult) mosquitoes to rest;

— Using permethrin to treat clothing and gear — such as boots, pants, socks, and tents — or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

More information is available online at Michigan.gov/MDARD.

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