Estimated Read Time 3 minutes
Ahh, the outdoors in the summertime. Nature, sunshine, fresh air…and mosquitoes. I guess nobody can be 100% perfect. Unfortunately, with all the wonderful things about being outdoors this time of year comes a few annoyances as well. With mosquito awareness at an all time high due to the spread of the Zika virus, it is a wonderful opportunity to remind our outdoor adventure seeking community how to avoid mosquitos bites. It is especially important to know how to manage mosquitoes for your first time camping so they don’t ruin your first night spent in the great outdoors. To help provide some mosquito bite prevention tips, we asked our friend and outdoors enthusiast Dave to come back to the blog to share what has worked for him to avoid these pesky insects.
DISCLAIMER: The Ayoopa team and contributors are not doctors. Ask your doctor and / or pediatrician for advice on which mosquito sprays are the best for you and your family. The advice provided below is based solely on personal experience of the contributors to this post.
Q: What ingredients should we look for in a mosquito spray?
Dave: The vast majority of mosquito repellents use varying amounts of DEET as the active ingredient. DEET acts as a neurotoxin that affects the Mosquitos’ central nervous system, scrambling the insects ability to detect humans. It is a very effective repellent; however it smells atrocious and I question the safety of its use. A colleague of mine noticed damage to the plastic housing of her compass after a field season of using DEET repellent. In addition to this negative evidence, outdoor companies recommend not using DEET on or near waterproof fabrics because it causes delamination and compromises the waterproofness of gear. So, for me, if DEET melts plastic, I don’t want it on my skin, clothing, or gear.
If you are going to use a DEET spray, use one with the lowest concentration possible. A 10 – 15% DEET spray for a few days isn’t going to kill you and will ensure the bugs stay away.
Q: What else can I do to avoid bites?
Dave: I recommend first and foremost long pants and long sleeves. I tend to wear a collared outdoor adventure shirt such as you would find at an outfitter from manufacturers like Columbia, Exofficio, and North Face. Fishing shirts work for this as well. When I’m spending a significant amount of time outdoors, I use a head net. These looks absurd; however, they are the most effective at keeping the mosquitoes out of my face. Some people who smoke have found that the smoke itself keeps the Mosquitos away, but I don’t advocate avoiding the potential harmful affects of DEET by starting a lung cancer journey. The head net is an extreme and perhaps embarrassing alternative to traditional repellents and would be most useful during a jungle excursion, a prolonged fishing trip, or any summer day in Wisconsin. For camping, be sure to always have the mesh / net windows closed and consider renting a screened canopy that can provide some additional protected space to congregate, eat and play in while keeping mosquitoes at bay.
Q: Ok, a head net sounds a bit extreme. What else can I do?
Dave: Right, I don’t see a lot of parents on the soccer sidelines donning a net. So for your average summer outdoor event or short camping trip I recommend plant based repellents such as the Lemon Eucalyptus DEET Free repellent from Repel. It actually smells mildly pleasant, is affordable at around $4-5 a bottle, and can be found at Amazon, most outfitters or even Walmart. I have found, though, that despite its claim of a 6 hour effectiveness, reapplication often is necessary. In addition to the spray, there are several companies that offer variations of bug bands. These are plastic spiral stretchy bracelets that can also be found at Walmart, Amazon, or your local outfitter. They also use DEET alternative repellents and, in conjunction with the spray, amount to the best DEET free anti-mosquito campaign I’ve been able to wage. It is worth stating, though, that DEET is the most effective universal repellent on the market. There are claims that the alternatives are only effective on some species of Mosquitos, and species vary by region. For some, this means that a low DEET level repellent may be the only option, especially if Zika is as harmful and widespread as some reports claim. Additionally, some natural sprays, such as the Lemon Eucalyptus, are not recommended on children under the age of 3. Read the labels and talk to your doctors. Again, if DEET is your best option and you are not using it for a prolonged period of time (such as on your first time camping), don’t stress and just go for a low concentration as stated above.
The bottom line is that a little effort can go a long way to keeping you bite free during your first camping trip. Awareness of mosquitoes is important, but don’t let them ruin your trip or keep you from the outdoors. Test sprays and clothing to find what works for you!
Note: Ayoopa is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com; however, the opinions expressed are those solely of this blog’s contributors.