Gardening Tips — Don’t let the bugs bite!

Learn tips and tricks to prevent tick and mosquito bites while performing outdoor activities such as gardening.

Overview

Gardening is enjoyable and there are many benefits to this outdoor activity. But, both ticks and mosquitoes are often found around vegetation and both may spread disease if they bite you.

In Massachusetts, the diseases that may be spread by ticks and mosquitoes are:

Ticks

  • Lyme disease
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Borrelia miyamotoi
  • Powassan virus
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Tularemia

Mosquitoes

  • Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE)
  • West Nile virus (WNV)

This page contains tips and tricks to help prevent tick bites.

Additional Resources for Overview

How to avoid bites

Be aware of peak activity times.

The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Gardening during the middle of the day may decrease your chance of getting bitten.

Ticks seeking a host to feed on are most active April through October.

Clothing can help reduce bites.

Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes and ticks away from your skin. Making the long-sleeves, pants and socks light-colored will help you spot a tick on them more easily.

Use insect repellent.

Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), or permethrin, according to the instructions on the product label. DEET is designed to be applied directly to your skin while permethrin is applied to your clothing. Products containing other active ingredients such as oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin or IR 3535 are also effective against mosquitoes and ticks.

Do a tick check daily.

Finding and removing ticks promptly will help prevent them from spreading disease to you. Check yourself all over for ticks in a well-lit room. They like to hide in warm, dark areas like between the toes, in back of the knees, groin, armpits, and neck, along the hairline, and behind the ears. Some of them are as small as poppy seeds, so use a magnifying glass if you have to. Remove any attached ticks using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull gently but firmly, straight outwards.

Additional resources

More detailed information is available through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at (617) 983-6800, or your local Board of Health. You can also find information online about ticks and mosquitoes

Public health factsheets

Tick-borne

Mosquito-borne

Brochures and guides

Preventing Disease Spread by Ticks (PDF) (DOC) – a fold-out, color brochure that provides information on ticks, diseases transmitted by ticks, how to protect yourself from tick bites, how to reduce tick populations around a home, how to remove an attached tick and information on repellents.

Tick Identification Card - A wallet-sized card sized reference to help people distinguish between deer ticks and dog ticks and their life stages. Handy tick tips can be found on the back.

Preventing Mosquito Bitesa fold-out, color brochure that provides information on diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, how to protect yourself from mosquito bites, how to reduce mosquito populations around your home, and information on repellents.

You can request copies of materials other than factsheets, by visiting the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse online, or by calling (617) 279-2240 ext. 326.

Other agency resources

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