(WGHP) — Now that spring has arrived and warmer weather is on the way, we’re preparing to deal with all the annoying pests that come along with the extra sunshine.

Mosquitoes are among the most frustrating insects that come out in the spring and summer. Not only do some of them carry dangerous viruses, but they can be extremely difficult to avoid entirely, especially if you plan on going hiking or taking a swim.

Mosquito season runs from March to October since they can only survive in temperatures ranging from 50 to 80 degrees. Typically, they are most active in the hottest summer months such as July and August.

They lay eggs in standing water and thrive in tall grass and overgrown bushes.

This 2006 file photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. A study published Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in the journal Cell, finds that certain people really are “mosquito magnets” who get bitten more than others — and it probably has to do with the way they smell. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

Mosquito-borne illnesses in North Carolina

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, there are three main viruses mosquitos can transmit to people in North Carolina:

These are referred to as “arboviruses,” which means they are viruses transmitted by the bite of an infected arthropod, most commonly a mosquito.

The majority of cases happen between June and September since those are the months that mosquitos are most active.

Arboviruses usually cause either no symptoms or a mild illness similar to the flu, according to the NCDHHS.

However, arboviruses can lead to serious illnesses such as encephalitis (swelling of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord) and meningoencephalitis (layers of thin tissues that cover the brain becoming infected) which can be fatal.

Early symptoms:

  • fever
  • headaches
  • fatigue

More severe symptoms:

  • sensitivity to light
  • vomiting
  • trouble walking
  • confusion

Ten cases of West Nile virus were reported in NC in 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No cases were reported in the Piedmont Triad.

Mosquitoes (Getty Images)
Mosquitoes (Getty Images)

How to avoid mosquito bites

Mosquito-borne illness can be prevented in two main ways:

  • personal protection measures
  • reducing the population of infected mosquitoes

The NCDHHS says that personal measures include:

  • spending less time outdoors, particularly in the early morning and early evening hours
  • wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts
  • applying mosquito repellent to areas where your skin is exposed

Measures to reduce mosquito populations include:

The CDC recommends vaccines that can help prevent bacterial meningitis.

The NCDHHS also advises people to get immunized against communicable diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.

FILE – This file photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a feeding female Anopheles stephensi mosquito crouching forward and downward on her forelegs on a human skin surface, in the process of obtaining its blood meal through its sharp, needle-like labrum, which it had inserted into its human host. Scientists said Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 that the invasive mosquito species Anopheles stephensi was likely responsible for a large outbreak of malaria in Ethiopia earlier this year, a finding that one expert called a worrying sign that progress against the disease is at risk of unraveling. (James Gathany/CDC via AP, File)

What to do if you get bit by a mosquito

Male mosquitoes do not bite you. Female mosquitoes are the ones that bite because they need blood to produce eggs.

To treat a bite, the CDC advises you to:

  • wash the bite with soap and water
  • use an ice pack to reduce the swelling
  • use an over-the-counter anti-itch or antihistamine cream, and follow the directions on the label
  • do not scratch the bite

You can also reduce itching by mixing one tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to create a paste. Put the paste on the bite, wait ten minutes and then wash it off.

If you notice symptoms of infection, such as the bite appearing red or feeling warm, getting worse over time, contact a healthcare provider.