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Armed with some planning and preparation before venturing into the great outdoors, you must be capable of taking pleasure from your hikes without being bugged by, well, bugs! Mosquitoes are not only a pain in the neck (or just about anywhere in your body), but they are carriers of serious illnesses too.
When it comes to protection, preparation is key and this article will further discuss all the things you can do to avoid pesky skeeter bites.
There are 3 different kinds of insect repellent that you can apply on your skin or clothing to prevent them from hovering around you. However, in order to make them work for you, you must first read manufacturer’s instructions first before application.
DEET is the most well-known insect repellent around and there had been recent reviews of DEET’s effect, stating that the product is indeed safe to use directly on the skin. Doctors often recommend the use of this repellent on areas where mosquitoes are prevalent. It’s often sold in lotion and spray forms.
DEET is often used in concentrations between 5-100 percent. The higher the concentration, the longer it can deter mosquitoes. Used in conjunction with permethrin-treated clothing, it will provide even greater protection.
Permethrin is an artificial kind of an insecticide called pyrethrum and is also used as insect repellent. The product was made for the application to clothing where it sticks to the clothing to make the wearer ward off insects. How long the treatment stays on clothing may vary—it can last for up to 2 weeks or even as long as 6 months.
A single can of the product can treat a number of clothing from shirts down to socks. You must first spread the clothing on an even surface, grasp the can about 12 inches away from the clothes then spray it by employing swooping motions until the clothes are damp. Turn the clothing over then go over the entire procedure.
To make the treatment last longer, you should keep the clothing in resealable plastic bags until ready for use.
Picaridin is an odorless substance that is safe and used solely as insect repellent. It does not feel greasy on the skin and studies have revealed that used in the similar strengths, the product worked effectively as DEET. It is available in lotion and spray forms.
Natural Insect Repellents
If you’re unsure about the effects of chemical insect repellents, natural products are your best bets. Other than its bug-busting properties, they are also kind to the environment and your body. Here are a few natural insect repellents that you can carry with you on those hiking trips.
Most essential oils can be applied directly on the skin but some oils like peppermint, lemongrass, thyme, basil, lemon and cinnamon need to be diluted with a carrier oil like almond oil first before skin applications.
- Catnip essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Neem oil
- Soy oil (organic)
- Peppermint oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Lemon oil
- Rosemary oil
- Tea tree oil
- Geranium oil
- Sage oil
Keep in mind that the stronger the smell, the faster the mosquitoes will stay away. The higher the quality of the oil, the more effective the repellent. You can either mix the oils into a massage oil and apply it on skin, diffuse it into the air or dab it on exposed areas.
What to Wear: Clothing Tips to Ward Off Bugs
Wearing the right kind of clothing is one step ahead on winning the battle against mosquitoes. Here are some suggestions that you can follow when dressing for a hike in woody areas.
- Wearing pants is one good way to prevent bites, but make sure that you have them tucked inside your boots (find here the best hiking boots for men, and here the best hiking boots for women). If you’re not wearing a pair of boots though, you can pull the tops of your socks over your pants. This will prevent those critters from flying or crawling into your clothing.
- Wear longer tops and if you can, have them tucked into your pants for the duration of the hike.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt for the hike. However, there are areas that are hot so this idea might not be practical but if you can deal with it, long-sleeved shirts are a tried-and-tested way to avoid getting bitten by those bloodsuckers.
- Get your clothing treated with permethrin. Permethrin was created with clothing in mind and the material bonds itself to the fabric where it acts as a repellent to mosquitoes and other kinds of insects. However keep in mind that permethrin should be used only on clothing, not on skin.
- Mosquitoes don’t like the camouflage colors of white, tan and light green. But they are attracted to bright colors, loud floral prints and dark colors like blue and black so avoid wearing clothing with flashy prints and the mentioned colors.
- Mosquitoes are drawn by bare arms, chests and legs, strappy sandals, sweet perfumes, shiny jewelry and hairspray. So cover yourself up diligently and avoid wearing any of those mentioned items.
Other Helpful Tips Regarding Areas, Etc.
- Sorry to say, you won’t be able to completely stay away from these bugs because mosquitoes thrive on every continent except extremely icy places like Antarctica. However, you can steer clear of areas where mosquitoes are prevalent. They can be normally found in wet, warm and humid regions that are near the equator.
- Keep away from standing water because these insects often thrive on immovable water like lakes, bogs, creeks, marshlands and everglades. Don’t camp out or hike in places with any stagnant water so you can avoid encountering bites from these pests.
- If you can, do not hike on marshy areas during so-called ‘mosquito seasons.’ The situations in tropical countries are different though since mosquitoes can grow well in warm climates for most of the year. But in areas with temperate climes, they are active only during warm seasons while colder seasons require mosquitoes to hibernate.
With the above tips and repellent advice, we hope you’ll have some great hiking! Enjoy the outdoor and prepare for the hike.