Mosquito ‘Danger Days’ Rising: Protect Your Family With EWG’s Bug Repellent Guide
By Carla Burns
Experts predict mosquito and tick bites and subsequent infections will continue to rise as warmer climates expand insect habitats and populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that pest-borne diseases are "a large and growing public health problem in the United States." Cases of diseases from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the U.S. from 2004 to 2016.
According to a new report by the nonprofit research group Climate Central, there is an increased risk of transmission of mosquito-borne diseases across many American cities. The report highlights that changing temperatures have resulted in an increase in the number of so-called mosquito disease danger days across more than 90 percent of the cities analyzed. Danger days have temperatures averaging between 61 and 93 degrees, the range required for mosquito-borne disease transmission.
Climate Central analyzed nearly 50 years of temperature data for 244 cities. Reno, Nevada, topped the list, with an increase of 52 mosquito disease danger days since 1970. San Francisco was second, with an increase of 47 danger days. The full list of cities is here.
As mosquito disease danger days continue to rise, it's important to protect yourself. The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) recently updated Guide to Bug Repellents can help you find the right product to protect yourself and your family.
No repellent works every place against every pest, so you should research the diseases that insects and ticks carry where you plan to spend time outside. The most effective repellent option for a hike in the woods with ticks may be different than the best repellent for a day at a beach with mosquitos.
Always choose an EPA-registered repellent at the concentration rated for the amount of time you'll be outdoors. You can find our recommended concentrations and timespans on the Top Repellent Choices page of our guide.
Whether you are in your backyard or on vacation, here are quick tips for avoiding bug bites:
- Wear pants, socks, and shirts to reduce amount of exposed skin. Tuck pants in socks to protect the ankles.
- Use repellent products in lotion, pump or towelette form.
- Use nets, screens, and/or fans over outdoor eating areas, and place nets over strollers and baby carriers.
- Don't use treated wristbands, repellent candles or clip-on repellent fans—they are not as effective at protecting you from bug bites.
- Don't use more than 30 percent DEET on anyone.
To learn more about our advice for avoiding bug bites, visit EWG's Healthy Living Tips.