Here we are, already in the middle of summer, and the highlight of hiking and camping season. Sadly, we are also in prime mosquito season. In this article, I will offer a few ways to help control these pesky insects while hiking and camping, so our outdoor adventures will be much more enjoyable!
Besides just being a nuisance, mosquitoes really are a danger to our health. They carry diseases such as the West Nile Virus, the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States. They also transmit the Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunyr viruses. Let’s check out some options to not only protect ourselves, but send those mosquitoes packing so we can totally enjoy our time in the great outdoors!
The very first line of defense we can take to thwart off these pesky insects is to treat our clothing and camping gear with a permethrin-based repellent before leaving home. Permethrin is a pesticide, and it will stay on your clothing and gear for up to several weeks. It will protect you from mosquitoes, ticks, and other annoying insects while withstanding being rained on or washed. Just remember – Do Not apply permethrin to your skin, as this chemical absorbs poorly in the skin and may cause a reaction.
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Another way we can control mosquitoes is to wear insect repellent clothing. After years of research and development, permethrin has been tightly bonded into the clothing’s fabric fibers. This results in very effective insect-repellent clothing with no odor, and will last the entire lifetime of the clothing, generally up to 70 washings.
If you are not into putting chemicals on your clothing, you can still trick mosquitoes up to a point naturally by wearing light- colored clothing. Mosquitoes locate their prey by seeking out sources of heat. Since humans radiate a great deal of heat, we are basically a giant mosquito magnet! Wearing light-colored clothing will reflect light as well as heat instead of absorbing them. This will make you not quite as attractive to a mosquito as someone wearing dark-colored clothing and absorbing a great deal of heat.
If your outdoor adventure involves camping, you can greatly reduce the number of these unwanted visitors by carefully planning where you decide to pitch your tent, hang your hammock, or park your RV. Look for a site that is away from small ponds, marshy areas, or any stagnant water, as all of these water sources greatly attract mosquitoes as a breeding ground and are where they lay their eggs.
Building a campfire has been thought to keep mosquitoes at bay, since they cannot tolerate fire, heat, or smoke. In reality, a campfire can actually be a blessing and a curse. True, mosquitoes cannot tolerate the fire, however, the same fire that repels them also emits high amounts of CO2, also known as carbon dioxide. CO2 is a strong attractant to mosquitoes and many other types of bothersome insects.
A way to get around this mixed blessing is to add a little something extra to your campfire that is known to deter mosquitoes, such as citronella, lavender, mint, sage, and/or lemon balm. Just add fresh or dry herb branches to your campfire to drive away those pesky critters, and reap the benefits of the herb’s awesome smell for yourself! If you do not have actual herb branches, you could always use these awesome herb-treated mosquito repellent logs from Amazon. Check out the link to purchase them below! While you are at it, you could get your toddlers their very own camping campfire play set so they will learn helpful camping techniques as they grow in size and in their future camping abilities.
Of course, we will not constantly be sitting around a fire while camping. During these times, mosquito repellers and mosquito trappers are excellent and very effective choices.
Portable mosquito repellers work by emitting synthetic forms of natural repellent that are found in certain flowers.
Mosquito trappers work by slowly converting propane gas into CO2. Mosquitoes think that this is a person or animal emitting CO2, and are drawn to this as a source for their next feeding frenzy. These traps will then vacuum up the mosquitoes into a chamber or lure them onto a sticky surface, either of which offer no escape.
Next on the list is a very effective but controversial item: bug spray containing N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, otherwise known as DEET. DEET somehow confuses the mosquitoes’ olfactory senses, which will prevent them from attacking your skin like the little vampires they are. I know there are a lot of people who will not put chemicals such as DEET on their skin, and it is totally a matter of choice. Personally, I would rather spray myself down with my insect repellent of choice, REPEL SPORTSMAN MAX, which contains 40% deet, than be a mosquitoe’s next meal every time I step outside! This particular brand of insect repellent will repel mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, biting flies, chiggers, and fleas – and it works!
There are so many types of insect repellent sprays, some containing deet, deet-free, and natural sprays, along with insect repellent bracelets, pins, stickers, etc. I will not go into all of them, as they are a matter of personal choice. I will suggest that if you are looking for a natural repellent that does not contain deet, to try a repellent containing lemon eucalyptus oil. This repellent acts much like a deet-based spray in it’s effectiveness. However, since it is a natural spray, the effects will wear off much sooner, and you will need to reapply every couple of hours to keep up the product’s effectiveness.