As everyone knows, mosquitoes carry several diseases which can be very dangerous including Zika (although possibly less of a threat this year), and this is in addition to their irritating bites. It is forecasted that this will be another bad year for mosquitoes as we had a mild winter. There are many types of mosquitoes and over 80 different species live in Texas. Fortunately, not all these species carry disease. Unfortunately, the ones that do are usually tiny, their sting is usually unnoticed and they don’t have that irritating buzz. Female mosquitoes lay several hundred eggs on the walls of water filled containers. Eggs stick to containers like glue and remain until scrubbed off. When water covers the eggs they hatch in about a week.

Mosquitoes zero in on carbon dioxide, a natural byproduct of breathing. They can sense this expired carbon dioxide from up to 100 feet away so we don’t have much chance of sneaking quietly out to the front swing these summer evenings without broadcasting our presence to the neighborhood mosquitoes. Nevertheless, parents can take some concrete steps to protect their children and themselves.

First, avoidance is the best protection. Eliminate all standing water. Once a week empty and scrub, turn over, cover or throw out items that hold water. Cover tightly water storage containers or use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito. Fill in ditches and holes where mosquitoes might breed. Check all screens and screen doors for holes.

Keep children indoors during early morning and evening hours. Dress children in light colored long sleeve and long legged clothing so that less skin is exposed. Mosquitoes and other bugs are drawn to floral scents, so change to an unscented soap; avoid perfumes or scented lotions and deodorants.

Two over-the-counter products, one a mosquito repellent and the other a product with both repellent and insecticide provide the best overall barrier protect your children. Generally, repellents with DEET are superior to “natural” products using citronella or soybean oils.

DEET functions to produce a vapor layer distasteful to mosquitoes extending about 1.5 inches above the skin. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that DEET should not be used on babies 2 months and younger. Older children can use DEET concentrations up to 30 percent. The higher the concentration, the longer it lasts. A percentage of 4.75 will last about 1.5 hours. Apply to exposed skin, but never put DEET around the eyes, lips or on hands.

Spray a product such as Cutter Outdoorsman Gear Guard containing permethrin — a derivative of the chrysanthemum flower — on sun caps, clothing, sleeping bags or tents if camping, but never on skin. The combination of the two will ward off most mosquitoes for four to six hours. Permethrin for clothes, DEET for skin.

These precautions will help prevent the rare infections carried by mosquito bites from infecting your family. Remember also the use of helmets and close supervision around water can save your child’s life.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.