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mrkstvns

Keep the Mosquitos Away When Camping

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Nobody likes mosquitos. They bite, they annoy, and they can spread disease. They are also a persistent problem for scouts and anybody else who enjoys summer camping. Mosquitos are a part of the natural ecosystem and there's no way to completely avoid them. But there are ways to keep them off yourself. 
Here are a few strategies that scouts and scouters can use to help keep the mosquitos at bay this summer:

  1. Repellant / Bug Spray.  Spray on mosquito repellant before you leave your tent in the morning and re-apply several times during the day because it will wear off as you sweat. Also be sure to re-apply after swimming. Repellants that contain Deet (such as Deep Woods Off) are good choices for summer camp because they are more effective. Some people recommend natural, organic repellants, such as those containing citronella, cedar, eucalyptus, and similar ingredients. These may be effective, but most scouts will do well to keep some Deet as a backup because there is continuing evidence that the organic products are less effective. 
  2.  Permethrin:  Permethrin is different than most repellants because you don't spray it on yourself, you spray it on your tent, your clothes, and any other equipment.  Permethrin not only repels mosquitos, it repels ticks, chiggers and other painful pests. An application of Permethrin provides protection for up to 6 weeks.
  3. Citronella lamps, torches, or candles:  Outdoor stores sell citronella oil and citronella candles. These don't kill any mosquitos, but they do overpower some of the natural scents of humans and other animals that mosquitos hone in on, helping to reduce the number of mosquitos coming into the campsite.
  4. Have a campfire.  Where there's smoke, there's fewer bugs.  Mosquitos don't like smoke, so having a campfire can be a good way to reduce the bug bites. If you have a bumper crop of herbs, you might be able to scent that smoke for even greater bug repellant power. Rosemary, catnip, and sage are among the herbs with reputed bug repellant power. 
  5. Smell bad. Most scouts don't believe in showering while camping. Believe it or not, mosquitos find the smell of a sweaty, dirty scout almost as repellant as moms do!  When bathing is unavoidable, using unscented soaps can be a better choice than those with floral or fruit scents. 
  6. Use mosquito netting. Sleeping will be much more comfortable if you're not waking up every few minutes to swat at a fresh mosquito bite. Enclose your entire sleeping area in a mosquito net and you'll sleep bite free. Just remember to spray on the Deet before you get out of your tent in the morning.
  7. Avoid lanterns. A sure way to attract bugs into your camp site is to set up a big, bright propane lantern. Even the battery-powered LED lanterns will attract flying insects.  Lower the light and lower the number of mosquitos and other flying pests buzzing around your camp site.
  8. Long sleeves and long pants:  Let's face it, you don't want to overdress when the mercury climbs, but if you are at higher elevation or in an area with cool evenings and mornings, then it might be practical to put on a long-sleeve shirt and some long pants. Less exposed skin area means less bites.  It's not always practical for summer camping, but it's worth keeping an extra tool in mind for when it might work.

Hope these help keep you bite-free and itch-free this summer!  See you on the trail!
 

Edited by mrkstvns
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prefer to keep chemicals to a minimum, especially when kids are involved

there are also natural repellents one should consider, eucalyptus and peppermint oils as an example

 

 

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21 minutes ago, Terasec said:

prefer to keep chemicals to a minimum, especially when kids are involved

there are also natural repellents one should consider, eucalyptus and peppermint oils as an example

Yep. Lots of natural repellants around.  Some better than others.

Interestingly, I saw a report that compared natural repellants to chemicals like DEET.  They found that Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus was almost as effective as DEET.  Report is here:  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151029101456.htm

As an aside, they also found that Victoria Secret Bombshell perfume repels mosquitos ...

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I have been treating my clothing, including hat with permethrin for at least 5 years. I do one treatment at the beginning of bug season and it stays good for the entirety of the year. Since I started doing this, I haven't used an apply-to-the skin repellant.

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We have the C-130 come over and dump the DDT on us, works great after you get over the coughing spasm

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6 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

Spray on mosquito repellant before you leave your tent in the morning

Exit the tent first then apply.  Not a good idea to get repellents on the tent fabric.  Especially DEET which will attack the nylon. 

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Note on naturals: pay close attention for allergies. Small amounts can be serious antagonists for some people. Petroleum deriviatives are less likely to cause problems *if dosed correctly*.

Whatever you use, practice first where there's a lake or shower to jump in (safely, of course) if there's a reaction. Obviously, at home is the best place to try this stuff out. You might not get a good idea of the critters it will repel, but you'll learn if your skin can stand the stuff.

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22 hours ago, NealOnWheels said:

Exit the tent first then apply.  Not a good idea to get repellents on the tent fabric.  Especially DEET which will attack the nylon. 

That does seem to be the consensus --- avoid spraying DEET on tent, sleeping bag, mosquito netting etc. as it damages synthetic materials.

I found an interesting article on the REI website. It discusses most of the issues we've been talking about, plus it introduces another approach that I omitted:  the idea of fogging an area (you could do this with a can of backyard repellant, or use one of the devices sold by REI to set up a "skeeter-free zone" in your campsite).  

Info:  https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/insect-repellents.html 

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My kids worked in the B-52 mosquito hatchery for the last 4 years, AKA a Cub Resident camp on a shallow and somewhat swampy little lake. A great little Cub camp in the non-mosquito season, but not a great place to live your summer. We sprayed their clothes, hiking boots, tennis shoes, and the outside of their sleeping bags with permethrin before staff week. We also sprayed the mattress pads for their beds (they slept on sheets and used the sleeping bags as quilts or for hammocking) and the rug for beside their beds. It greatly reduced the attacks of the mini vampires. They didn't have any adverse reactions to the spray. But it sure helped keep the mosquito bite quantity down, didn't stop it but drastically reduced it. One good spraying before the season and it lasted the summer.

We used so much of the stuff we actually buy it in bulk at the local feed store. A quart of the concentrate used for livestock and a pressurized 1 gallon sprayer cost me less than 2 containers of the cut down stuff at REI or the scout shop. It only took us a couple of minutes to do the math to get the dilution right. Got 2 summers out of my quart. Just make sure you don't use it full strength, it will ruin your material.

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12 hours ago, bsaggcmom said:

We used so much of the stuff we actually buy it in bulk at the local feed store. A quart of the concentrate used for livestock and a pressurized 1 gallon sprayer cost me less than 2 containers of the cut down stuff at REI or the scout shop. It only took us a couple of minutes to do the math to get the dilution right. Got 2 summers out of my quart. Just make sure you don't use it full strength, it will ruin your material.

That's a great idea!  I'm going to have to make a trip over to the local feed store to see what kind of bulk concentrates they sell.  I sure do hate getting bitten like a pincushion!

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Mosquito control might become an increasingly important topic for scouters as the world continues to grapple with rising temperatures caused by global climate change.

Whereas in past years, we might have been able to view mosquitos as little more than a nuisance, the spread of mosquito-borned diseases that were once of thought of a a problem to be dealt with by people and governments in the tropics are now a problem to be dealt with in the United States. 

An interesting article in yesterday's New York Times discusses how dengue is spreading northwards.

See the story:  
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/10/climate/dengue-mosquito-spread-map.html 

 

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In the south, mosquitos were out even in January.  Mild temperatures allow for easy winters and hearty bugs.  While regular sprays work mostly, we used to put Avon "skin so soft" on and it worked great.  I don't know if it is even around any more.  While at a stationary site, a Thermacell is now the going option.  Most campers and hunters in L.A (Lower Alabama) carry these and consider them an essential. 

Permethrin is sprayed on clothes for ticks and chiggers.  Chiggers are the worst.  This yankee growing up in Michigan didn't know what a tick or chigger did until entering Alabama.  For those without this critter, chiggers are the number one evil.  Seed ticks follow, and big old wood/dog ticks are easy. 

As for buying permethrin, as described above, getting it at a tractor supply type store in 16 or 32 oz and mixing it is the way to go.  I have a 3 gallon sprayer that makes it easy.    

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I've heard a lot of buzz lately about the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus and how cases of it have been spring up along the east coast (particularly northeast/New England area).  The virus is spread via mosquitos.

Some info on the CDC web site shows that the virus is not common (fortunately), but it is yet another reason to be wary and protect ourselves against mosquitos.

Info from CDC:
https://www.cdc.gov/easternequineencephalitis/index.html 

 

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