By a lake, in the forest, in a cabin or even in your backyard, you see some of those insects that bite and sting. Although it is almost impossible to develop any kind of disease after being bitten, the rash it causes is enough to drive adults and children crazy. To avoid becoming a snack, here is a little list of insects and a few tips to protect your babies.
Extremely unpleasant, mosquitoes inject an anticoagulant in our skin before drinking a few drops of our blood. It is that anticoagulant that forms the horrible itchy bump that we know.
If mosquitoes can transmit serious diseases such as malaria and filariasis in some Asian and African countries, they are virtually harmless to us. The most anxious mothers could say that, even here, mosquitoes can transmit the West Nile Virus but you should know that the Public Health Agency of Canada says that "Most people infected with the virus have no symptoms or in mild cases, symptoms may resemble the flu."
It is still best to protect your children when the presence of the virus has been reported in your area. If cases are reported, take all necessary precautions to ensure that persons with a weakened immune system are never in contact with these infamous mosquitoes.
Also, even if they are benign, having several bites can highly irritate a baby or a young child. That is another good reason to protect your children.
Mosquito nets are the most effective measure against mosquitoes and other biting insects. At home, make sure your window screens are in good condition and teach children to shut the door behind them, even during the summer. You can also buy a net to place over your child’s bed to protect them from insects that would have made it in your house. Other nets are designed to protect your child when they are in a stroller. You will find those at Clément and in pharmacies. Others protect your child in their car seat, like this Mousticou.
Another good way to protect your child is to dress them appropriately; with loose-fitting clothes with long sleeves, long pants and a hat. Pick pale colours that won’t attract mosquitoes. Also avoid going out with your baby at dawn because that’s when mosquitoes are most active.
You should know that all products containing DEET shouldn’t be used on babies under six months old. Also, products containing 10% DEET should only be applied once a day for children between 6 months and 2 years old and three times per day for children aged 2 to 12 years.
Similarly, it is preferable not to use large amounts of essential oils on children under seven years old and you must remember that pure essential oils are too strong for the skin of a baby. However, a drop of citronella oil in a bit of almond oil is very effective in repelling mosquitoes for children over two years old.
For younger children, there are also citronella and lavender stickers that can be used at a very early age because they don’t touch the skin. Just place them on hats, vests, tops or pants and voila.
Other insects that bite or sting
Mosquitoes are not the only biting insects. Black flies and biting midges also attack us and although the injury they cause does not last as long as a mosquito bite, it is no less painful. It is difficult to keep these two species away without using an insect repellent because they are small enough to pass through the tiny holes of nets.
For their part, and despite their loud sound, bumblebees are harmless. Only females have darts and they use it so little that it is possible to take one gently in your hands, according to the Office for insects and their environment. Wasps and bees sting too, but only when they feel threatened. Due to the intense pain they cause and the risk of allergy, it is best to avoid them at all costs.
Horseflies, also called deer flies, feed on our blood to lay their eggs. Their bite is painful and these flies often carry diseases. Similarly to mosquitoes, deer flies avoid light coloured clothing where they would be easily seen. If you don’t own a screen, don’t dress your kids in dark clothing. It is also said that pure vinegar sprayed on our clothes keeps them away.
Blacklegged ticks and Lyme disease
The blacklegged ticks are currently observed by the Public Health Agency of Canada because of the risk of transmission of Lyme disease as the number of cases has increased in recent years. Lyme disease can cause severe symptoms in humans, but fortunately, it can be effectively treated.
To reduce the risk, it is necessary to mow the lawn regularly, remove dead leaves and prevent pets from wandering in the forest. For now, Lyme disease was observed in Southern Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia.
In Québec, available data confirms the presence of Ixodes scapularis tick populations infected by Borrelia burgdorferi, particularly in the following areas:
- The north and west of Estrie
- A large part of Montérégie
- The south-west of Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec
- The south-west of Outaouais