Protecting Your Children from Biting and Stinging Bugs

Mosquitoes and Ticks

Whether kids are spending time at camp, in the backyard or the neighbourhood park, parents must take charge when it comes to preventing insect bites and ensuring a Bug Smart summer for their kids. Mosquitoes and ticks are vectors for disease.

Parents can do several things to prevent mosquito and tick bites. First, don’t leave protection to chance by relying on home remedies, bath oils, or gadgets such as ultrasonic repellers. Your children are not always by your side, so it’s important to educate them about the dangers of biting insects. Follow the tips outlined below to protect your family and reduce the mosquito breeding and resting sites around your home.

First Things First:

  • Dress children in light-coloured clothing — mosquitoes prefer dark, solid colours.
  • Cover as much skin as possible with long-sleeved shirts and long pants when mosquitoes are at their worst.

After the Fact:

  • If a child does get bitten, make sure he or she doesn’t scratch the affected area — scratching could lead to infection.
  • After an outdoor hike, parents should carefully check their children for ticks. Check all clothing including socks, shoes, pants and bags. Remember to also check the hairline carefully. Ticks are dark, so be particularly careful when inspecting dark-haired children. Ticks are about the size of a poppy seed, so be thorough.
  • If a tick is found imbedded in the skin, use tweezers to grasp the tick’s head, and pull the tick outward (without twisting or crushing) until the entire tick is removed. Wash the area, apply an antibiotic cream and cover the wound. If symptoms develop you may wish to send the tick to a laboratory to find out if the tick is carrying Lyme disease. Save the tick in a sealed jar with alcohol and record the date on the label.

Wasps and Hornets

Left alone, wasps and hornets do not go out of their way to sting humans, but wasps will vehemently protect themselves and their nests, making them undesirable occupants of our homes and gardens.

In addition to the pain of being stung, some people are allergic to wasp venom and can have life-threatening allergic reactions if they are stung. Wasps can sting repeatedly — and they can send a signal to the rest of the colony when they are threatened. A swarm of wasps or hornets can be very dangerous to people and poses a more serious threat to small children and pets.

Wasps and hornets can also be major pests away from home by making nests at campgrounds and picnic areas, and persistently crawling on food and into beverage cans.

Be careful when attempting to destroy a nest

Aggressive and non-discriminating wasps and hornets will attack anyone or anything they perceive as a threat, including children and pets. If the location of the nest does not present a health hazard, it’s best to leave the nest until November or December when it has been abandoned. The nest can then be removed with minimal risk.

If you choose an insect control product, use only a federally registered wasp and hornet product. If the nest must be controlled when the wasps are active, the control of wasp colonies in their nests should be attempted only at dusk or after dark when they’re least active. At these times, nearly all members of the colony will have returned to the nest, and they will be less likely to leave.