Bug Off: How to Stop Those Mosquito Bites

Mosquito outbreaks have been biting communities around the country. Some places, like Florida, haven't been hit this hard in a decade.

Find out how you can avoid the hungry swarms with tips from University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp. Check out his tips below.

Why are the mosquitoes so bad this year and where are they all coming from?

It's those near-record rainfalls in May, June and July in much of the country. A soggy start makes for lots of standing water -- perfect breeding sites for millions of mosquitoes.

Anything that can hold water, a wheel barrow, a bird bath or even a Frisbee could have 100 to 200 mosquitoes breeding in it.

Now, as temperatures climb into the 80s and 90s, the generation time for mosquitoes can be cut in half. That means twice as many mosquitoes in the same amount of time.

So, get rid of that standing water, and if you can't, throw in a little thing called a BT Dunk. It obliterates mosquitoes.

Are mosquitoes more than just a nuisance when grilling in the back yard?

Mosquitoes carry serious diseases like the West Nile virus. West Nile has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States since it was first discovered in 1999.

It is particularly serious for some seniors and people with weakened immune systems. Right now, about half a dozen states have human cases of West Nile, and another 10 are showing activity.

How do I stop them from biting us in the first place? A lot of people are worried about using sprays that include the chemical DEET.

DEET has been the gold standard for decades now, and I like a 7 percent solution when using DEET.

But for people who would like an alternative, there are some very effective organic plant-derived compounds out there now. One is Eucalyptus, and the oil of lemon Eucalyptus is used in Repel, a great natural repellent.

A repellent called Bite Blocker uses soy beans as a base. Wild tomatoes are used to make Bio UD, another natural repellent. And Lemons Grass is used to make SUNWAT, another effective repellent.

Keep in mind that they are all effective for different amounts of time, from just over an hour to more than seven hours.

And if you wind up getting bitten despite all the precautions, what should you do? What should we put on your arm right now to make you more comfortable?

First, don't scratch. Put a little ice on it, which will reduce the inflammation. You can also use calamine lotion to get rid of the itch, or a product called After Bite, which will neutralize the protein that mosquitoes inject into you. And, of course, you can also use hydrocortisone cream, which also helps take down the inflammation.

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