Protect Kids as they Explore the Bug World

If you have a child fascinated by bugs, or one who just naturally seems to attract them — think mosquitos and/or endless curiosity on the part of said kid — use any opportunity to expose and teach them about nature, observation, science and even math (how many legs does that critter actually have?).

Invite their questions, but follow these safety guidelines.

Make sure they don’t get too close and/or go on a stomping spree. If ants or flies are bombing your picnic, or crawlers are all too near, move if possible. Don’t expect the bugs to, although sometimes you can gently shoo them away with a strong napkin.

Place some sweets and proteins some distance away from your group to lure insects in a different direction. Coexistence spurs conversation.

Tell your little explorers to stay away from areas that attract flying insects such as stagnant pools of water, garbage cans, orchards and flowerbeds.

Before going on your next outside adventure where insect probability is high, dress your children in long pants and lightweight long-sleeved shirts. Have them wear socks, closed shoes and a brimmed hat (to ward off flying insects). Avoid bright-colored clothing or flowery prints because they can attract insects.

Beforehand, don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays.

If you favor using insect repellent, check which ones are most effective where you live. Keep in mind that repellents work on bugs that bite, like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and chiggers. Don’t use them for stinging insects such as hornets, wasps and bees.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend repellent products that have been registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Use insect repellent sticks, lotions or unpressurized sprays when applying on your child. Do not use under clothing, but rather apply on the outside of clothing and on exposed skin. Make sure your children washes up once they come back inside the house.

Avoid:

  • Getting repellent on your kid’s hands, because they may be touch their mouth and eyes, as kids do.
  • Applying directly to the face. Instead, spray a little on your hands and you rub it on, avoiding the eyes and mouth.
  • Getting repellent on cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
  • Using products that combine sunscreen and repellent because you could end up using too much repellent as you reapply sunscreen through the day.