How to Thwart Mosquitoes - Backpacker

How to Thwart Mosquitoes

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