May 15, 2017

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites

Summer is approaching and with the season change comes the invasion of mosquitoes. Read on to learn how to prevent mosquito bites when hiking and camping.

8 ways to prevent mosquito bites when hiking and camping

In most parts of the country, summer is the time for outdoor fun. But it’s also the time when the buzzing, biting pest that is the mosquito comes out to crash your party. Not only a nuisance, mosquitoes can spread diseases such as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. People going hiking and camping should take caution when traveling in and out of the US. Below we have 8 tips to help you prevent mosquito bites when hiking and camping.

1. Wear mosquito repellent

prevent mosquito bites with protectant

Before you roll your eyes at this first tip, let us explain. While wearing repellent and keeping it in your first aid kit may seem like a no-brainer, there are a lot of options out there and you’ll want to make sure you have the right repellent for the job. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using repellents that include one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, 2-undecanone, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. The EPA also has a tool that can help you decide which insect repellent you need for your next trip outside.

2. Avoid peak hours

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquito species. The early bird may catch the worm, but in this case it may catch some insect bites, too.

3. Avoid peak season

peak mosquito season

As you plan your adventures, consider your destination’s peak season of bugs. Heading to the Everglades National Park from mid-April to mid-November may be free, but you’ll be battling muggy temperatures and lots and lots of mosquitoes. If you’re not sure what to expect from your desired destination, ask a park ranger. They’ll be able to speak to what conditions can be expected.

4. Embrace the breeze

Mosquitoes are weak fliers, so hiking on a day with light winds can mean dealing with fewer pests. To prevent mosquitoes when camping, set up a freestanding fan to create a light wind around your campsite.

5. Cover your skin

cover your skin to prevent mosquito bites

Consider what the weather will allow, but aim for long shirts, long pants, a hat, and hiking boots or shoes, no sandals. If you know the area you’re traveling to is particularly bad, consider adding a mosquito net into the mix for added protection. REI options include a head net, jacket and mittens, and pants and socks. Combine them all for the ultimate bug block.

6. Skip the spandex

While yoga pants or leggings may be a comfortable choice for your active lifestyle, the closer and tighter the clothes are to your body, the easier it is for mosquitoes to bite through.

7. Avoid camping near standing water

Does camping by a lake sound enticing to you? Well, it does to mosquitoes. Try to avoid setting up camp near creeks, marshes, swamps, and lakes to reduce your risk of mosquito encounters.

8. Sleep protected

To prevent mosquito bites while sleeping, check that your tent has mosquito netting included and be sure to zip up your tent quickly each time you enter or exit. This should help to prevent them from entering and interrupting your slumber. If you’re wondering if bringing a mosquito net is worth it, check out Brendan Leonard’s story about his weeklong backpacking trip across Wyoming’s Wind River Range. (Quick answer: it is.)

Remedies for mosquito bites

If prevention doesn’t cut it, here are some remedies for relieving the itch of your bite:

  • If you know you react to mosquito bites with swelling and itching, keep an antihistamine handy. According to the University of Washington, antihistamines are much more effective at relieving swelling and itching than topical products.
  • Calamine lotion
  • Cortisone cream
  • Baking soda paste: mix 3 parts baking soda, 1 part water and apply several times throughout the day.
  • Apply a cold compress to bite

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