Cicadas—which are a kind of grasshopper—are headed to the northeastern U.S. by the billions this summer, and while they’ll certainly be annoying, they probably won’t be dangerous (assuming you don’t drive into an Old Testament-like swarm of them). The bugs to really worry about are deer ticks (yep, Lyme disease is still an issue in some parts of the country); mosquitoes (ditto, for West Nile Virus, or WNV); and stinging insects like bees and wasps, which are painful and annoying but only serious if you’re allergic, says Dr. Leavey.
Using insect repellent is always a good idea, but especially critical if there are reports in your area that mosquitoes are carrying WNV, which can bring on a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, and even encephalitis, which can lead to death. In 2012, nearly 5,700 cases of WNV were reported to the CDC, which included nearly 300 deaths (though 80 percent of people who are infected have no symptoms at all). Getting rid of standing water (breeding grounds for the mosquitoes) and making sure screen doors and windows are fixed to keep the critters out can help reduce your chances of getting infected by WNV-carrying skeeters, which are busiest at dusk and dawn.
Deer ticks usually don’t cause a problem unless they’ve been on skin for 24 hours. But if you’ve seen a tick and you don’t feel well, see a doctor. Spider bites are not that common but do occur, so if you get a bite and it becomes swollen, red, or develops a welt, head to the ER. And if you’re severely allergic to stinging insects and use an EPI pen, you already know you need to keep it with you all the time.
Photo: akeg/Creative Commons via Flickr