Bug off: How to stay bite-free this summer

Bug off: How to stay bite-free this summer

Stress less about bug bites this summer with these strategies for avoiding pests. Plus, get tips for using your member discount at CVS on approved summer-friendly health and wellness items.

Two older people walk through a park with yoga mats

Getting outside during the summer for a walk, picnic, yoga class or swim can help recharge your batteries after a long winter and wet spring. But outdoor fun isn’t without its challenges. Mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and flies can be annoying. And some of these bugs can also carry disease and put your health at risk.

Learn more about the risks and how to protect yourself from bug bites, clearing the way for healthy, stress-free adventures in the great outdoors.

Diseases spread by bugs

While not all bugs pose a risk (and in fact, we need most of these creepy-crawlies to create a healthy environment), some of them transport diseases that can jeopardize your health. Here are some of the bugs to be on the lookout for, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.*

A couple looking online together
Have you visited your plan web page?

It has details about your personal coverage and how to make the most of your plan. You can find the website on your Aetna Member ID card.


Not only are mosquitoes a nuisance, they can also transmit diseases, such as West Nile virus or Zika virus. Mosquitoes can become infected when they bite a person with West Nile or Zika. Then they can spread these viruses to others. If you’re bitten by an infected mosquito, you may not get sick, or you may only experience mild symptoms, particularly in the case of Zika.*

But with West Nile virus, adults over age 60 or people with certain medical conditions may be more susceptible to severe symptoms.* These can include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness and aches
  • Neck stiffness
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Vision loss
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

Symptoms can last up to several weeks. If you are bitten, avoid scratching.* If you've experienced any of these symptoms, contact your primary care provider right away. Or if it’s urgent, visit the emergency room or an urgent care center.


Illnesses carried by ticks can have life-altering consequences. Ticks in certain areas can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other infections that can result in fever, aches and a rash. If left untreated with antibiotics or other drugs, they can lead to more serious symptoms. like:*

  • Severe joint pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Damaged blood vessels
  • Hearing loss
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

Get your health questions answered

A registered nurse is just a phone call away. Call our 24-Hour Nurse Line at 1-855-493-7019 (TTY: 711)to speak with a nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If it’s an emergency, dial 911.

5 ways to protect yourself from bug bites

1. Be aware of your location

Illnesses carried by mosquitoes and ticks are generally found in specific geographic areas. You can check with your local health department to learn about the risks in your area. If you live in or travel to places where insect-related illnesses have been detected or are common, it’s even more important to take the steps below.

If you’re in tick territory, check for ticks after being outside. Be sure to check pets, too. Remove any attached ticks by using tweezers and grabbing the tick as close to your skin as possible.*

2. Use an effective insect repellent

If you’re going to be outside, especially at night, use bug spray. Look for insect repellents that have active ingredients approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These are proven to be safe for you and the environment. These ingredients include:*

  • 10% to 30% DEET (look for repellents that have 10% to 30% DEET)
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the U.S.)
  • IR3535®
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-Undecanone

Follow the product’s instructions for how often to apply. And if you’re using sunscreen at the same time, apply the repellent after your sunscreen.*

Be sure to check with your primary care provider if you have questions about insect repellents.

Check your benefits

Log in to your secure member website at AetnaMedicare.com/Login to check your plan benefits and costs.

3. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants

Try to cover up around grassy areas, standing water or wooded areas. This is where bugs like ticks and mosquitoes are most likely to be. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants instead of a t-shirt and shorts.* Look for materials that are breathable during hot summer weather, so you don’t overheat.

4. Treat clothing and gear with permethrin

An option to stay bite-free is to use permethrin. This is an insecticide that kills or repels bugs like mosquitoes and flies. If you plan to be outside for long periods of time in areas that are known to have infected insects, you can use it as added protection.

Either treat clothing with 0.5% permethrin or buy clothing and gear that’s already treated with permethrin. Read the product information to learn how best to apply the insecticide, or how long the protection on pretreated clothes will last.* Do not apply permethrin directly on skin.

Check with your provider if you have questions about possible skin irritation from wearing clothing treated with permethrin.

5. Use your member discount to buy bug protection

Starting in 2024, you can enjoy a 20% discount on thousands of select CVS Health® brand health and wellness products — both in store and online.

All you have to do is use a barcode at checkout when you shop in person, or a promo code when you order online. To learn more, log in to your secure member website at AetnaMedicare.com/Login. Select “Living Well” and scroll down to the section titled “Wellness Savings for You.” Here you can read how to use your online promo code or print your in-store coupon to activate savings.


*FOR BUGS TO LOOK OUT FOR SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Avoid bug bites. Last reviewed May 11, 2022. Accessed May 9, 2024. 

*FOR ZIKA SYMPTOMS SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Zika. Last reviewed October 19, 2022. Accessed May 9, 2024.

*FOR WEST NILE SYMPTOMS SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile virus. Last reviewed September 27, 2022. Accessed May 9, 2024.

*FOR LYME DISEASE AND ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER SYMPTOMS SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of tickborne illness. Last reviewed August 5, 2021. Accessed May 9, 2024.

*FOR TICK-BITE PREVENTION SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diseases spread by ticks. Last reviewed October 23, 2017. Accessed May 9, 2024. 

*FOR INSECT-BITE PROTECTION TIPS SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Avoid bug bites. Last reviewed May 11, 2022. Accessed May 9, 2024.

For language services, please call the number on your member ID card and request an operator. For other language services: Español | 中⽂ | Tiếng Việt | 한국어 | Tagalog | Pусский | ةيبرعلا| | Kreyòl | Français | Polski | Português | Italiano | Deutsch | ⽇本語 | فارسی | Other languages… 

 See Evidence of Coverage for a complete description of plan benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features and availability may vary by service area. Participating health care providers are independent contractors and are neither agents nor employees of Aetna. The availability of any particular provider cannot be guaranteed, and provider network composition is subject to change. For mail-order, you can get prescription drugs shipped to your home through the network mail-order delivery program. Typically, mail-order drugs arrive within 14 days. You can call the Member Services number on your member ID card if you do not receive your mail-order drugs within this timeframe. Members may have the option to sign-up for automated mail-order delivery.

The CVS Health discount is for use by Aetna Medicare Advantage members only. You may be asked to show your Aetna insurance card at checkout. Aetna is part of the CVS Health® family of companies. 20% off Select CVS Health Brands. Excludes sale and promo items, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, prescriptions and co-pays, pseudoephedrine/ephedrine products, pre-paid, gift cards. Not combinable with other orders or supplemental benefits. 20% discount is not valid on other CVS brands such as CVS Pharmacy, Beauty 360®, CVS, Gold Emblem® or Gold Emblem abound®. CVS reserves the right to apply the 20% discounts to qualifying items in any order within the transaction. Not valid on orders placed on CVS.com/Photo or CVS Optical®. Savings are not transferable. No cash back. Tax charged on pre-coupon price where required. Vendors offer Value-Added Items and Services (VAIS) at a discount that are not part of your plan’s benefits. You will pay the full cost of discounted services not covered under your plan.

©2024 Aetna Inc.