How to mozzie-proof your home

From mosquitos and sandflies to wasps and bees — there is no shortage of insects that bite and sting leaving you itchy and sore. When it comes to bites and stings it’s important to know ‘what’ you are dealing with so you can provide effective insect bites treatment and relief.

As summer rolls in, many people are spending more time at home and in their backyards — unfortunately, when the warm weather arrives, so do the mosquitoes. So, if you don’t want that annoying buzzing in the middle of the night it’s best to try to prevent mosquitoes getting into your home in the first place!

Here are four simple tips on how to keep mosquitoes away from your home — so you can focus on keeping the fun in and the mozzies out.

1. Stagnant water

Mosquitoes breed in standing (still) water. While they only need a small amount of water to lay their eggs in, it must be stagnant for at least six days in order for the larvae to fully develop. Have a good look around your house, garden, patio, yard or balcony for any sources of still water – by removing them you can start to limit their breeding areas and help keep mosquitoes away from the backyard, patio and around your home.

How to stop mosquitoes breeding in water features:

  • Emptying or covering any items that hold water such as buckets, wheelbarrows, water tanks or other containers. Wire mesh can be used as a replacement lid for containers holding water, provided the holes are small enough to block adult mosquitoes (generally, no bigger than 1 mm).
  • Make sure that any container that can’t be covered (such as bird baths or pet drinking bowls) are emptied and thoroughly cleaned at least once a week.
  • Put sand around the base of plant pots to help absorb water that collects in the dish.
    Watch out for plants such as bromeliads which catch and hold water. Regularly rinsing the plants out with a high-pressure hose can remove mosquito larvae before they can fully develop.

You can contact your local council or health authority for more tips and information on mosquitoes in your area and how best to control them. Interestingly, in Queensland you could be fined by your local council if you have a mosquito breeding ground present around your home.

2. Dark, humid areas

Mosquitoes are mostly found in warm, humid areas. Outside, this means areas such as under carports and patio furniture or amongst overgrown vegetation. Make sure your lawns and gardens are kept tidy in order to minimise these areas. Fish ponds and swimming pools should be well-maintained with minimal vegetation around their edges.

3. Insect sprays and repellents

While ‘knock-down’ fly sprays can be used for visible mosquitoes, there are also a range of products which act as more general repellents to help keep mozzies away.

Insect sprays and repellents can be used to target the dark, humid areas around your home where mosquitoes like to hide, such as under the sink, in the shower or behind furniture. When using an outdoor insect spray, focus on areas such as under bushes or patio furniture, making sure to avoid any fish ponds and other sources of water which may be consumed. Remember to always carefully follow the instructions when using insecticides.

If you are spending a long time outside, mosquito coils can help repel mosquitos, as they burn they release smoke which interferes with the mosquito’s senses. Make sure to place the coils upwind of where you are and to never leave them burning unattended.

Alternatively, if you are staying close to your house and have access to a power point, try a plug-in mosquito zapper. For the most effective relief from mosquitoes, you may need to use insect spray as well — the key is finding which products work best for you and your lifestyle.

4. Flyscreens

One of the simplest steps to take when trying to keep mosquitoes out of the house is to use fly screens. Ideally, there should be flyscreens on every door, window, vent and chimney to help stop the mosquitoes from entering your home.

As summer arrives, it’s a good idea to take the time to check your flyscreens for any holes or tears — and try not to ‘invite’ the mozzies in by leaving any doors or windows open if they don’t have flyscreens on.

Remember to be prepared and don’t forget the Stingose — even if you’ve been extra careful around your home there are always occasions when a mozzie has made its way in and is making a pest of itself, probably leaving an itchy bump or two behind! Applying Stingose immediately after a sting or bite can quickly minimise the pain, itch and inflammation.

The Essential Summer Holiday Packing List

Holidays are meant to be relaxing, but there is nothing more frustrating than leaving one of your ‘essentials’ at home. Here is a helpful list of five essential items to pack when going on your next summer holiday to help you stay healthy and happy, whether you’re bush, beach or city bound.

Holidays are meant to be relaxing, but there is nothing more frustrating than leaving one of your ‘essentials’ at home. Here is a helpful list of five essential items to pack when going on your next summer holiday to help you stay healthy and happy, whether you’re bush, beach or city bound.

1. Insect repellent

As the beautiful summer weather rolls in, many people want to make the most of it by spending the long sunny days outdoors. Unfortunately, this also means more encounters with mosquitoes and other insects. In order to keep enjoying the Australian weather with minimal insect bites, it’s important to pack a good quality insect repellent – look for one that contains DEET or picaridin.

Make sure you think about what you are going to be doing when choosing which repellent to take. For instance, small roll-ons or insect bite sprays are convenient to slot into handbags or day-packs, whereas coils are useful if you’re going camping.  Remember to always carefully follow the product instructions.

2. First aid treatment for stings and bites

Sometimes bites and stings just can’t be avoided — so it’s useful to have an insect bite first aid such as Stingose on hand. Stingose gel and spray provide fast relief from the pain, itching and swelling associated with most stings and bites, from mosquitoes to bees and even nettles. They’re suitable for use on children over 12 months, making it perfect for the whole family.

Some insect bites may cause allergic reactions — so if you or your family show any signs of an allergic reaction or your symptoms worsen, seek medical advice immediately.

3. Sunscreen

Make sure to protect you and your family’s skin while everyone’s out enjoying the summer weather by packing sunscreen. Before you leave on holiday, remember to check the SPF rating (SPF 30 or higher), water resistance level and the expiration date. Always follow the directions on the pack and remember to reapply! Lip balm with SPF 30 or higher can also be useful to help prevent your lips from burning and cracking

While sunscreen is important don’t forget to pack the hats and sunnies as they also provide vital protection from the sun. When you are out and about remember the five sun protection measures to help reduce the risk of sunburn— slip, slop, slap, seek, slide!

4. Pain relievers

From headaches to stomach cramps, minor maladies can put a dampener on your holiday relaxation. Prepare for the unexpected by keeping a pack of your preferred pain relief medication handy; if travelling with children, make sure you pack a children’s pain reliever as well. Remember to keep them safely out of the reach of children and always follow the product instructions.

5. Hydration products

Australian summers can get pretty hot and it’s easy to become dehydrated, especially when travelling or spending time out and about away from home. Packing a refillable drink bottle or bottled water is a great way to remind yourself to keep your fluids up and ensure you have access to water throughout the day.

If you’re going to be involved in excessive exercise, oral rehydration drinks can be useful to pack as they help replace the salts and minerals your body loses through sweat. However, under normal circumstances, drinking water is enough to remain hydrated.

Don’t let life catch you off guard. It’s important to be prepared so that you and your family can enjoy your time away this summer with as little stress as possible.

Common insect bites and stings

From mosquitos and sandflies to wasps and bees — there is no shortage of insects that bite and sting leaving you itchy and sore. When it comes to bites and stings it’s important to know ‘what’ you are dealing with so you can provide effective insect bites treatment and relief.

From mosquitos and sandflies to wasps and bees — there is no shortage of insects that bite and sting leaving you itchy and sore. When it comes to bites and stings it’s important to know ‘what’ you are dealing with so you can provide effective insect bites treatment and relief.

Insect bites symptoms and first aid

Most bites and stings may cause minor symptoms such as mild itching, pain or swelling and will typically clear up over a couple of days. First wash the area with soap and water and then keep it clean and dry. You can use ice and cool running water to help reduce any swelling and help relieve any pain. Using products such as Stingose Gel or Spray are also ideal at this point to help relieve the pain, itching and inflammation that follows most bites and stings.

Don’t use tourniquets, or cut the bite or sting site or try to suck out the ‘venom’!

Not everyone reacts to bites and stings the same way— sometimes reactions can be serious and life threatening. If you are experiencing a severe reaction, seek medical attention immediately — insect bite symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to watch-out for include:

  • Swelling of the tongue or throat
  • Difficulty breathing or talking
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Dizziness

Common Bites and Stings

Here’s how to recognise and treat some common insect bites and stings we may encounter when out and about:

1. Mosquito bites symptoms and treatment
Mosquito bites are typically small, round, puffy bumps which appear almost immediately after being bitten. They quickly become hard, red and itchy, and usually last a couple of days. You may find that you get multiple mosquito bites at the same time, around the same area.

Once bitten, wash and clean the area. Most mosquito bites are mild, however, the pain and itchiness can be treated with icepacks, antihistamines and insect bite relief products such as Stingose.

2. Sandfly bites symptoms and treatment
Bites from sandflies (also known as biting midges) are typically painful and itchy, though the severity of the reaction varies from person to person. The bites may form blisters or red bumps which can last for days or weeks. Unlike mosquito bites, the itching may not start until several hours after the bite.

Sandfly bites typically resolve themselves without treatment, however, icepacks, antihistamines and topical anti-itch products can help alleviate the painful and itchy symptoms.

3. Ant bites symptoms and treatment
Ants can bite and sting! Ants sting using the stinger located near their tail and bite using their mandibles and mouth parts. Some species of ant can bite and sting whereas others can do neither – but spray formic acid at you!

Generally, ant bites/stings result in a localised raised, bumpy rash (hives). More serious bites/stings such as fire ant bites can cause an itchy pustule lasting a few days to weeks.

Ant bites/stings can be very painful (particularly from fire ants) and the immediate treatment involves washing the area and applying a cool compress to minimise swelling. Following that, antihistamines, topical insect bite relief products and over-the-counter pain medication can be used to alleviate the pain and itching.

4. Bee stings symptoms and treatment
Bee stings are usually painful, red, swollen and itchy. The site of the stings will typically swell and turn red, with a white spot where the skin was punctured. Some bees can only sting once as they leave their stinger in the skin.

Bee sting first aid: Remove the stinger as soon as possible to minimise the amount of venom injected in the skin. Don’t use tweezers to pull it out as it may cause more venom to be released – instead, try removing the sting by gently scraping or sliding a sharp object across it, such as a bank card or a fingernail. Following that, wash the area and apply ice or a cold pack and a soothing cream. Oral antihistamines can be taken to minimise the itching.

5. Wasp stings symptoms and treatment
A raised, red welt will typically appear around the site of a wasp sting, accompanied by a sharp pain and a itching or burning sensation. Wasps are aggressive and, unlike bees, they don’t tend to leave their stinger behind, which means they are capable of stinging multiple times!

When you are stung, clean the affected area and use ice or a cold pack to reduce the swelling. Pain medication, antihistamines or a soothing gel/spray such as Stingose can be used to help relieve the pain and itching.

6. Sea lice bites symptoms and treatment
Typical symptoms of sea lice bites include an immediate prickling sensation followed by itchiness. Red bumps then form and can merge to form a large itchy rash which can lasts up to 2 weeks.

The irritation is generally mild to moderate, and can be treated with over-the-counter products to minimise itching.

Insect bites generally clear up over a couple of days. If the stings or bites appear to worsen, look infected or don’t heal after several weeks, contact your doctor or pharmacist.