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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

How to Thwart Mosquitoes

Mosquitoe bites can be simply annoying or dangerous depending on where you are. Learn how to fend off their attacks.

by: The Backpacker Editors

    Tags:

Paddling the gently meandering Isabella River takes you through marshes that abound with moose and other creatures. Unfortunately, in June those low-lying, windless marshes also abound with the kind of wildlife that can send a trip south faster than a whining partner on a long portage: clouds of thirsty mosquitoes. Don't let the buggers buzz between you and the best weather and fishing found in these parts; take a cue from the locals, who fight back on multiple fronts.

Catch a breeze: Stick to windy shorelines, rocky points, and ridgetops. In camp, sit facing the wind with your hood up; the mosquitoes will cloud behind your head.

Tone it down: Neutral colors fool mosquitoes, which are attracted to contrasts of light and dark.

Cover up: Wear long pants (tuck hems into socks) and a long-sleeved shirt with a collar. A head net offers effective protection. Put on a billed cap to keep the netting at a comfortable distance from your nose and mouth.

Clean up: Biting bugs are drawn to the ammonia in your sweat, as well as sweet-smelling soaps. Both are good reasons to enjoy a suds-free skinny dip before dinner.

Hide or flee: Mosquitoes are most voracious at dawn and dusk. Chill in your tent, or if you're out, hike at a brisk pace.

Go nuclear: Slather on the deet, which is still the most effective repellent around. Apply directly to exposed skin and clothing, but beware--deet damages some synthetic fabrics. Don't use it on infants younger than 2 months, or on any child in a concentration higher than 30 percent.

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READERS COMMENTS

Chris
Jan 25, 2010

WD-40 works pretty well too ;)

Mike
Jun 08, 2008

Oh, Sam, that's a very bad idea. Although as a nurse, it might be entertaining for me to hear your story when you reach the emergency room.
Me: "How did you get those 2nd and 3rd degree burns on your hands, face, and legs?"
You: "I was trying to incinerate mosquitos with a spray bottle of alcohol and a lighter. For no explainable reason, there was a gigantic fireball in my hand."
Me: "Well, did you kill any mosquitos?"
You: "The ambulance driver told me, after I regained consciousness, that over 500 acres of the forest was now on fire. So, yeah, I think I got a few."
Really, I'm not trying to attack you, Sam, but please don't light aerosolized alcohol on fire for entertainment. It will not end well.

Sam
Apr 12, 2008

A small spray bottle of denatured alcohol and a lighter works quite well for those stubborn types. Plus allows for a little intertainment as well. Just use with caution. The flame cam go out as far as five or six feet. Keep it attached to the outside of your pack.

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