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Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Hiking Trail Information

Mosquito Control - Tips for Backpacking
By Steven Gillman

Mosquito control when backpacking isn't a minor issue. At one time mosquitoes were a nuisance more than anything. If you backpacked and camped in areas that had a lot of these pesky insects, you expected to be bothered. You expected to lose sleep even. But now mosquitoes in many areas of the United States also carry diseases that are potentially deadly. You need to be prepared.

Mosquito control, then, is important, and starts with a little planning before the trip. For example, bring a mosquito head net if you will be in an area with a lot of mosquitoes. The lightest ones are about one ounce - light enough even for those of us who like to go really light. What else can you do to avoid mosquitoes or prevent their bites? Here are a few tips.

1. Always carry insect repellent with DEET in it. Others may work okay, but so far DEET has the best record for repelling mosquitoes and preventing bites. It does cause damage to nylon and other synthetic materials, however, so be careful to apply it to your skin, without getting any on that rain jacket or those synthetic shirts or pants.

2. Wear neutral colors. Mosquitoes seem to be attracted to blue and to contrasts of light and dark clothing. Stick to tan, light brown and beige colors as much as possible.

3. Cover your skin. Tuck pants into your socks and wear long-sleeved shirts in areas that have a lot of mosquitoes. Generally, they'll have a hard time biting through nylon materials that are tightly woven. Avoid fishnet t-shirts and other easy-to-bite-through shirts.

4. Set up camp in breezy locations. Set up camp in areas that get a breeze and you'll have a lot fewer problems with mosquitoes. Face your tent into the wind and you'll avoid allowing insects inside when you climb in and out.

5. Timing matters. Mosquitoes are more active at dawn and dusk, so avoid them by setting up camp before dusk and leaving by dawn.

6. Keep clean. Personal hygiene is an important part of mosquito control. Mosquitoes and other insects are drawn to the ammonia in your sweat, and the odor of your feet. Wash yourself regularly (in lakes and streams if necessary) and you'll attract fewer bugs.

7. Use fire. A small fire that produces a fair amount of smoke will keep many insects away. Use a few live branches from spruce or fir trees to produce more strongly scented smoke.

Copyright Steve Gillman. To get the ebook "Ultralight Backpacking Secrets (And Wilderness Survival Tips)" for FREE, as well as photos, gear recommendations, and a new wilderness survival section, visit:

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Like this article?  You may also enjoy:  Do Walking Sticks Conserve Energy? by Steve Gillman, Ultralight vs Traditional Backpacking by Steve Gillman, and Breakfast Recipes by Steve Gillman


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