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Oklahomans planning to work and play outdoors during the summer should protect themselves against mosquitoes. 

Whether working in the garden, taking a brisk evening walk or enjoying a family picnic, there are safety precautions people can take when outside. 


“The life cycle of a mosquito all depends on water,” said Justin Talley, Oklahoma State University livestock entomologist. “They have to have water for their immature stages to develop, so anywhere there’s water, there could be mosquitoes developing in it.” 


Around the house, the most important way families can prevent mosquito populations is by reducing the amount of standing water around the property. 


“The main concern with standing water is its potential to serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which could be infected with viruses such as West Nile virus and Zika,” Talley said. 


Homeowners should check their property for any areas that have the potential to hold water, such as bird baths, containers in gardens and even tree holes, and make sure the water is draining. 


In cases where the home has a water feature, property owners can put out mosquito dunks or granules to prevent mosquitoes from developing in the water. 


Homeowners can also spray ornamental plants with an insecticide that repels mosquitoes from landing on them or, if they do land, leaves a residue that will prevent the population from growing. 


When it comes to outdoor activities, wearing long sleeves and long pants can provide a first line of defense in terms of preventing mosquito bites. 


However, the most effective protection comes from repellents containing at least 15 percent DEET. Some natural products, such as lemon eucalyptus oil, are also effective at repelling the pests. 


“Mosquitoes are generally most active at dusk and dawn,” Talley said. “If you’re outside early in the morning or late in the evening, you need to put on some type of repellent. However, container breeding mosquitoes that can carry Zika and other viruses are active during the afternoon and will feed during the daytime.” 


Repellents with DEET should not be used on children 3 years or younger and no repellent of any kind should be used on children 2 months or younger. 


“When you’re putting repellent on a child, usually the best technique is for adults to put some repellent in their hand and wipe it on to ensure thorough coverage,” Talley said. 

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