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How to fight insect bites this summer

Forecasters predict a wet summer in the southern Plains and much of the southeast, which could increase the threat from mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects
Best ways to fight insect bites this summer 03:11

Summertime is all about enjoying the great outdoors. But there is a pesky little threat that could spoil your fun: insects like mosquitoes and ticks. The threats posed by insect bites are increasing, according to researchers, as climate change makes summers hotter and, in some places, wetter.

"One insect can spot you 150 feet away and actually zone in on you," Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, told "CBS This Morning." "So you really don't want to be a target."

Bassett offered tips for how to protect yourself this summer:

What attracts mosquitoes?

"There are 400 compounds in our skin that are attractive to mosquitoes," Bassett said. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide in breath, sweat, higher body temperature, certain perfumes and scents, and pregnant women because they exhale more carbon dioxide than other people and have more blood circulating through their bodies. Research shows that the bodies of some individuals produce natural repellents to mosquito bites, which are genetically controlled.

Known health dangers from bug bites

Aside from the itchy skin, redness and swelling caused by mosquito bites, these insects can also carry dangerous viruses including West Nile and Chikungunya.

Who needs to worry about West Nile virus 01:38

According to Mayo Clinic, "most people infected with West Nile virus don't experience any signs or symptoms, or may experience only minor ones, such as fever and mild headache. However, some people who become infected with West Nile virus develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the brain."

Chikungunya virus, which has been spreading through the Caribbean, causes high fevers, fatigue and severe, oftentimes debilitating joint pain.

Another insect to watch out for, ticks, can carry Lyme disease and other illnesses. Lyme disease is prevalent in the Northeastern U.S. and comes from the bites of infected deer ticks. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, rash, headache and fatigue. If caught early enough, the disease can be treated with antibiotics.

Ways to fight the bite

Bassett suggested that people pre-treat their skin with insect repellent before going outdoors. "There's a study out now that shows that more natural plant-like chemicals work just as well as DEET," he told CBS News. "Oil of lemon eucalyptus, Picaridin work really well for long periods of time."

Bassett also advises wearing light colored clothing, long sleeves and long pants if you are planning on being in a wooded area. If you're planning on hanging out in the backyard, Bassett suggested plugging in a fan outside. "A fan's blowing on you -- it prevents them [mosquitoes] from landing on you and prevents the bite," he said.

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