They drive us crazy, don’t leave us alone and haunt us when we’re sleeping. Mosquitoes love following us and enjoy making our lives hard. Luckily, there are a wide range of products to keep these little pests away. From chemical products to natural mosquito repellents, there are so many options. Keep reading to find out what really helps keep mosquitoes away.
No mosquitoes = no bites
Sounds logical, and it is. When hanging out in areas that are home to many insects, you’re bound to get stung sooner or later. The best way to prevent this from happening would be to avoid these areas altogether. This may limit your range of destinations though, and you may be stuck having to go on holiday to the North Pole to completely avoid these pests. Whether you’re in a tropical forests or hanging out near Finnish swamps, insects are (unfortunately) everywhere. Here’s a good rule of thumb: the warmer the weather and the more humid the air, the more mosquitoes there will be. So, even if you’re sleeping outdoors in Scandinavia during the summer, they will be around.
Finding a good campsite is half the battle
Mosquitoes enjoy hanging out in damp, shady areas with no wind. To reduce the risk of being stung, avoid these areas and venture off at higher altitudes with little vegetation. If this is not an option, cross these risky areas in the afternoon, as the insects are less active then in the morning or evening.
The same principle applies when choosing a location to set up camp. You should avoid wet meadows and swampy areas at all costs. Ideally, choose an area that has some wind and that is above the tree line. Another tip is to only unpack your equipment inside the closed tent to prevent an insect from getting into your backpack. The colour of the tent also plays a role. For example, yellow attracts mosquitoes. In addition, make sure to check that the mosquito nets on your tent are all intact before going on your tour.
Bite-proof clothing – function over style
A hat with a brim and mosquito net may not be the most stylish piece of clothing, but it’s better than having a large, red mosquito bite on your forehead or nose. Such nets are the most effective way to prevent getting mosquito bites on your face or neck. They are designed in a way as to not restrict your field of vision.
With the right clothing, you’ll be well prepared for the next attack. This is because 40% of all mosquito bites occur through clothing. Socks, trousers and long-sleeved shirts can easily be treated with permethrin (NOBITE spray). This offers mosquito protection for up to four weeks and can protect you against ticks for up to two weeks.
This may not be the optimal solution for everyone. Luckily, there are also tops and trousers made of bite-proof materials, such as Fjällräven’s G-1000. If you can’t get your hands on bite-proof garments, make sure to wear light and loose clothing.
Depending on the weather and where you are in the world, it may be too hot to wear long clothes. However, it’s especially important to protect yourself in such regions. There is a risk of catching a disease through a bite in hot, tropical areas.
Before starting your tour, you should research the risk of mosquito-borne diseases at the destination. Bring close-meshed mosquito nets that can be stretched over your hammock or bed, or fly screens for windows that are easy and quick to set up. When venturing out in hot regions, spray insect repellent on your skin.
Not only annoying, but also dangerous
Malaria is one of the best-known diseases transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes. There are over 1000 people diagnosed in the UK every year. There is a high risk of being stung in tropical and subtropical areas.
Although there is medicine you can take before, during and after, there is no travel vaccine available yet and some pathogens are already resistant to this chemoprophylaxis. There is also still no vaccine against dengue fever, which is mainly found in Thailand, and against yellow fever. The diseases can only be treated symptomatically.
This is why it’s so important to actively protect yourself against insects. The so-called repellent, i.e. an agent that is perceived by the insect through the sense of smell, is the all-purpose weapon. It does not kill them, but drives them away.
Chemical products vs. household remedies
There are natural remedies as well as chemical ones. In principle, chemical repellents have a more reliable effect than other methods. The active ingredient DEET (diethyltoluamide) has become indispensable in mosquito repellents. DEET ensures that the human scent can no longer be detected by the insect, preventing you from getting stung. The higher the concentration of active ingredients, the longer the protection lasts (found in Anti-Brumm Forte, Care Plus, NOBITE, Autan).
If you use sunscreen, make sure you apply it before the repellent. Note that the effect of the sunscreen will be reduced by up to one third. If you use any medication that facilitates the penetration of active ingredients into the skin, it’s important to know that DEET can penetrate the skin into the bloodstream and have undesirable effects on the nervous system. There is a possibility that the active ingredient may cause numbness, tingling or, if used excessively, brain damage or seizures. In addition, such remedies should not be used or only used with special caution on young children and pregnant women.
There are also natural remedies that don’t contain chemicals. However, before resorting to natural mosquito repellents, you need to consider where you will be. Will you simply need protection at your local lake or against disease-carrying tiger mosquitoes?
In your flat or in the great outdoors, essential oils that can be vaporised or applied to the skin are a good way to protect yourself from these pests. Just know that there is no such thing as the one true mixture, so just test out and use the oils wisely. Using a lot does not make it more effective either. In addition, you should know that the smoke from a campfire has no effect on mosquitoes. On the other hand, incense sticks and scented candles can keep them away and will even create a nice atmosphere when camping.
Swatting the mosquito with your phone is more helpful than using ultrasound apps
You’ve probably said or heard someone say: “turn off the light before the mosquitoes come!” Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily true. Unlike moths, mosquitoes do not react to light, but rather to body odours and warmth.
You may have heard that garlic is supposed to repel mosquitoes, but this doesn’t help much. The only one that will suffer is your travelling companion. Vitamins and special insect-repellent bracelets do not keep them at bay either.
In this digital age, there is no shortage of ultrasound apps for mosquito protection. However, they also have no effect. Swatting the mosquito with your phone is more helpful than using one of these apps.