In the camping/outdoors world, there are few things more annoying than dealing with mosquitoes. In fact, if I were to pick a form of torture from an outdoorsman perspective the two that come to mind would be placing a wood tick on somebody, telling them you did so, but not telling them where it is located! One could watch them as they tried to feel where it might be only to find that it now it feels like there are 1000 wood ticks crawling on their skin, so then they would have to remove clothing and visually scour their body for the unwelcome guest. "Just give us the information Mr. Bond and we'll tell you where the wood tick is!"
The other "water boarding-esque" nature related torture would be the unwelcome mosquito while trying to get some sleep. Especially when one is confined to a sleeping bag.
Anyone who has ever camped out surely can recall a time or two (or more) when they lay in their sleeping bag, exhausted from the day and just as they are about to drift off, they hear that sound. The high pitch, soft buzzing only the wonderful mosquito can make. Truth be told, the sound itself wouldn’t be a problem, except for the Pavlovian response of anxiety we have developed when hearing it knowing that when the buzzing stops….that’s when you know the bite, itch and irritation is not far behind. (For those not in the know about conditioned responses check out the educational and famous- yet not overly exciting experiment here involving Pavlov and his dogs.
So, while the weather is finally warming (for real this time right?)....we turn to talk of paddling trips, camping and some even start their first of a multitude of lists to help them prepare for the adventures that lie ahead.
So, back to mosquitos. What can be done to reduce the chance that these stinger led scavengers ruin your paddling and camping experience?
As with most things, there are many opinions and we’ll just give you a few ideas you might want to try.
You’ll notice that store bought bug repellent is not on the list. This is for two reasons. First, DUH! Not a very helpful article if all it gives you is advice to “buy some bug dope with deet”. Thank you Captain Obvious!
Secondly, the most important ingredient in most bug repellents is deet and deet is not a very nice chemical- for your skin or your clothes, so we’ll give you some alternatives to the old throwback. However, if push comes to shove and your options are mosquito infestation and deet…...well, go camping in mosquito country once without anything and you’ll see. (or hear and feel).
Ok, so here are some random ideas to help you defend against these offensive little suckers.
- Alternative Repellent- Rub your skin with the inside of an orange peel.
- Treatment- Use any toothache gel medicine (like Orajel) to stop the itching if bitten.
- Tenting- If possible, fact tent door into the wind as mosquitos will tend to stay more on the downwind side of the tent to keep from being blown away.
- Don’t- use fragrant or scented personal products and try to keep cool because mosquitoes are attracted to sweat.
- Do- Wear light colored long sleeve clothing and pants.
- Do- Wear a hat and a bandanna on your head and neck.
- Don’t- Be blonde. Not avoid being the butt of some horrible jokes, but because studies have actually shown that blonde’s attract more mosquitoes- look it up!
- Repellent- Avon’s Skin So Soft- nothing scientific here, but many swear by it, some mix it 50/50 with rubbing alcohol.
- Head Nets – keeps bugs away from your head and face. (Style points do not matter when camping!)
- Garlic – it will secrete through your pores. (not sure how much you’d need to consume, but also highly recommended when camping in Transylvania!)
- Zinc or Vitamin B – also secretes through your pores. (quantity needed unknown)
- Coconut soap and coconut oil – repels mosquitoes. (Plus you’ll smell like a Pina Colada!)
- Mosquito coils-These coils do wonders inside a vehicle or sleeping area in preparation for bedtime. The smoke is not harmful for humans or pets.
- Dryer tissues The tissues that you put in the dryer to soften your clothes also help well against mosquitoes. You can rub them over skin and clothes and then just keep them in your pocket and it will keep 60% of the mosquito’s off. (Wouldn’t bet the 401k on the percentage here, but give it a shot and let us know if it’s accurate, I’m sure the experimenter without any protection will have fun!
So there are just a few random samplings of the many, many opinions out there on how to deal with mosquitoes.
Good luck and Happy Paddling!