Herald Journal Columns
July 18, 2005, Herald Journal

Protection from those summertime bugs


Besides being a time for having a lot of outdoor fun, it is also that time of year for bugs, mosquitoes, ticks, and other creepy crawlies. It’s a good idea to use some protective cautions when outside.

Ticks especially like to be in moist, shaded woods, low-growing brush, piles of leaves, and dense weeds. They can also lurk in your yard in woodpiles and high grass areas, the website www.bam.gov/survival noted.

Ticks will look for a place to attach, like on the back of your knees, armpits, in your hair or near your hairline, or behind your ears. The website offers some tips to help keep ticks off of you and your children.

If you are hiking, try to walk in the center of the trail, and if taking a rest, sit on a rock instead of the ground. Do the same when in your backyard, too.

Wear a hat outside to keep ticks away from your head. Wearing a hat helps to protect your and your children’s head from becoming sunburned, as well.

Wear insect repellent with DEET in it and make sure to follow the directions on how to apply it. A good rule of thumb from the experts is that kids should use repellents with less than 10 percent DEET, the website said.

Parents should apply the repellent on their children to avoid getting it in mouth or eyes. And always wash your hands after applying.

My children’s pediatrician also conveyed to make sure to wash the repellent off when the children are done playing outside.

And, of course, when your outdoor hike or play is over, do a tick check. Check the clothing to make sure there are no ticks on it. Check your children’s (and yours, too) back, the top of the head, and the hair, too.

Ticks can be hard to see. Nymphs, which are not quite adults, are the size of a pinhead, and adults are about the size of a sesame seed, the website noted.

We’ve all heard about West Nile, a virus that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The website notes that in areas where the West Nile virus has been found, very few mosquitoes have it. While it’s true that the virus can cause an infection in the brain, the chances that you will get very sick from any one mosquito bite are really low, but you still want to protect yourself and your children to cut down on the number of mosquitoes and bites.

As suggested for tick protection, apply mosquito repellent to your skin and your children’s skin, and follow the same guidelines as recommended above.

Wear light-colored clothing, and if it’s not too hot, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and a hat, especially if you or your children are outside early in the morning or at sundown – when many types of mosquitoes are most active – or go inside at these times.

Some mosquitoes lay their eggs in ponds and swamps, and others in standing water – water left in pails and wading pools. Check around your house and yard for standing water, and empty the buckets, flowerpot saucers, and wading pools. Clean your birdbaths at least once a week also, the website suggested.

We can still have fun outside, but just take precautions.

Fun summer snacks

• Make some celery boats with some celery, some type of dip, peanut butter or cream cheese, and some triangular-shaped crackers. Wash the celery stalks and cut them into whatever size boats you prefer, and fill each one with some dip. Add the cracker into the dip for the sail, and you’ve got a fun and healthy snack!

This idea is from FamilyFun magazine, June, 2005.

• Yogurt freezies are tasty and easy to make. Buy some yogurt of your choice and spoon into snack-size Ziploc baggies. Squeeze out the air, make sure the baggies are sealed tightly, and place them in the freezer.

When frozen, cut off a small piece from one corner of the baggie and squeeze out the yogurt for a summer treat.

• Make some easy juice pops by filling ice cube trays with your child’s favorite juice, put some tin foil or plastic wrap over the tray, and poke a toothpick into each tray section; place in the freezer. When frozen, carefully remove the foil or plastic wrap and enjoy some homemade “pops.” The hardest part is waiting until they are frozen.

Bubbles, bubbles, and more bubbles

Playing with bubbles is always a fun, easy, and popular summertime activity. Although bubble solution is pretty inexpensive to purchase in the stores, it’s fun to sometimes create your own. Of course, kids always love pouring, mixing, and being scientists, chefs, and artists.

Make your own bubble solution by combining one cup of dishwashing liquid and two tablespoons of glycerin or light corn syrup.

Making your own bubble wands is fun too, and it is amazing what you can use to make them. FamilyFun, June, 2005 suggested binding together a number of drinking straws with tape and dipping one end of the bunch of straws into a shallow dish of bubble solution and blowing through the straws, creating many tiny bubbles. (Be careful not to suck the solution into your mouth.)

Create bubble wands out of pipe cleaners. Twist the pipe cleaners into various shapes, remembering to leave a handle to dip the wand into the bubble solution, which can be put into a pan, plastic tub, ice cream pail, or its lid – any container as large as the wand.

As my friend, Lori Ehrke, does, use flyswatters as bubble wands. Dip the flyswatter into the container filled with bubble solution and wave the flyswatter around in the air. Lots of tiny bubbles will be floating around.

Your child can be enveloped in a bubble by pouring bubble solution into a wading pool, adding some water so the pool is about three inches deep, placing a hula hoop into the center of the wading pool with your child standing in the center of the hula hoop, and lifting up the hula hoop, thus forming the bubble. Your child can burst the bubble by blowing or poking.

This idea is from Parents Play and Learn, by the editors of Parents Magazine with Marge Kennedy and Karen White, Roundtable Press, Inc., 2000.

The book recommends having your child wear a swimming suit and goggles (if she’s scared about getting bubble solution in her eyes). Children should always be supervised when playing with water.

Hula hoops can be used to create a lot of summertime fun, too. Place some hula hoops on the ground; children can jump from one hula hoop into another.

Have your child play a ring toss with the hula hoop. Toss the hula over a plastic bottle filled with water. If other children or people are around, make sure they keep their distance from the hoop being tossed.

Of course, it’s fun to spin the hoop around your waist, but have your child try spinning the hoop around her arm, or place the hoop on the ground, have your child stand inside it to try and move the hula hoop around the ground with his feet.

Some of these suggestions are from the book, as well.

Park pick of the week

A couple of years ago, my son had a soccer game at Arlington – right by the city park, which has a great playground with lots of play equipment. It was hard to get the kids off the playground equipment to play their soccer game. I recommend the park to any park-goers. Enjoy. It’s a fun adventure!


“There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.”

– Dr. Who