Summer is the perfect time for kids to enjoy the great outdoors.
Unfortunately, camps can be crawling with critters -- some are just annoying, others may be hazardous to their health.
Luckily, Consumer Reports says there are steps you can take to help ward off unwanted insects and parasites and keep your campers happy and healthy.
We'll start with mosquitoes. More than just an itchy annoyance, these bloodsuckers carry a number of diseases. Among the most common is West Nile Virus.
"Thousands of cases are reported to the CDC every year," said health editor Catherine Roberts.
Ticks can also carry a number of diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.
"So insect repellent is going to be key," Roberts said.
For best protection against both mosquitoes and ticks, Consumer Reports suggests looking for products that contain 15 to 30 percent DEET, which the CDC says is safe for use on children over 2 months old. Even so, children should not handle insect repellent themselves.
"Counselors should be applying insect repellent to kids," Roberts said.
Ticks are a particular danger in grassy or wooded areas. If your camper will be hiking or spending time in tall grass, best to keep them well-covered.
"Long pants, socks, closed-toed shoes. Long sleeves are good. And go ahead and tuck their pants into their socks," Roberts said.
As for natural repellents, Consumer Reports testing found they generally offer very little protection.
Another creepy crawly is lice -- which mostly spread through head-to-head contact.
"It's just 3, 4 seconds for a bug to spread from one person to the next," said lice expert Anna Albano Krosche.
Making matters worse, a majority of lice are now resistant to many over-the-counter lice treatments, which means you'll need to comb them out. Krosche says preferably with a metal comb.
"The tines of the teeth are very close together and it really, really helps to remove the nits and the bugs. A plastic comb, not so much," she said.
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Consumer Reports: Keeping your kids critter-free at summer camp
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