Prevent Mosquito and Tick Bites

You can Fight the Bite by taking steps to protect yourself and your family from mosquito and tick bites and the germs they spread. 

Before Going Outside

Apply EPA-registered insect repellent
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients listed below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and picaridin outside the US)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

Find the right insect repellent for you by using EPA’s search tool.

Always follow the product label instructions. Reapply insect repellent as directed. Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

Wear loose-fitting long clothing
Covering your skin with long-sleeved shirts and long pants can stop mosquitoes and ticks from biting.

Treat clothes with permethrin
Use 0.5 % permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear. It will remain protective through several washings. Permethrin is an insecticide that kills and repels mosquitoes and ticks. If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions. Do not use permethrin products directly on skin. To learn more, watch the video, What You Need to Know About Permethrin.

Know where to expect ticks
Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails to prevent contact with ticks.

Prevent ticks on dogs

Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tickborne diseases. Vaccines are not available for most tickborne diseases that dogs can get, and vaccines don’t keep dogs from bringing ticks into your home.

Talk to your veterinarian about:

  • The best tick prevention products for your dog
  • Tickborne diseases in your area

To further reduce the chance your dog gets sick from a tick bite:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
    • Tick bites on dogs can be hard to detect, pay close attention to these areas: In and around the ears, around the tail, around the eyelids, under the collar, under the front legs, between the back legs, between the toes
  • If you find a tick on your pet, remove it right away.
  • Reduce tick habitat in your yard.

Signs of tickborne disease may not appear for 7 to 21 days or longer after a tick bite. Watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect your pet has been bitten by a tick.

Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any tick prevention products to your cats without first asking your veterinarian.

After Coming Inside

Check for ticks
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body tick check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body.

Check theses parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around the hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

If you find an attached tick, remove it as soon as possible. Dispose of a live tick by doing one of the following:

  • Put it in alcohol
  • Place it in a sealed bag/container
  • Wrap it tightly in tape
  • Flushing it down the toilet

Take a shower
Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and can be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering can help wash off unattached ticks. Showering is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Tumble dry clothes
Ticks can be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.

Around Your Home

Use air conditioners and screens
To keep mosquitoes outside of your home, you can:

  • Install or repair and use window and door screens
  • Close doors, including garage doors. Do not leave doors propped open
  • Use air conditioning when possible

Empty standing water
Mosquitoes lay eggs in or near water. By dumping out standing water, you can prevent eggs from developing into adult mosquitoes.

Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Tightly cover water storage containers so mosquitoes cannot get inside. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.