Effective Measures for Repelling Nature’s Mini Munchers
For every pound of human on the planet there are nearly 300 pounds of insects – that’s a lot of bugs!
Insects are just about everywhere, and they can truly bug you when you’re deep in the backwoods or having a picnic in your backyard. From mildly annoying to stress-inducing and potentially lethal, the buzzing and biting of flies, mosquitoes and the stinging from bees can make any situation, survival or otherwise, much worse. Be sure to include protection from these threats in your survival kit.
Insects can also bring to you more than just an uncomfortable time outside. They can carry and transmit serious diseases, cause respiratory and other medical issues to those allergic and in many areas throughout the world, be the number one cause of death.
The key to battling these tiny attackers of your tender skin is to be prepared far before you find yourself under their nonstop barrage. From spray repellents and lotions to help you taste bad, to physical means of blocking them from entering your working or sleeping space, to electronic means to allow science to lend a hand, knowing how to stop these creepy crawlies will bring you some much-needed peace to your outdoor life.
DANGERS TO BE HAD
Insect bites, aside from the obvious irritating itching, can do far more damage medically than you may think. Their harmful effects fall into two general categories, one being the effects caused by the bite itself, and the second would be the symptoms caused by the disease transmitted to a person by the insect. Both can be serious, severe and even life-threatening.
“IF YOU KNOW YOUR AREA OF TRAVEL, THEN YOU CAN CHOOSE THE APPROPRIATE COLORS AND PATTERNS TO AVOID THE INTEREST OF THE LOCAL INSECTS.”
Basic symptoms from a bite include redness, blistering, swelling around the area and, of course, constant itching. If a person scratches persistently, they can bleed and the site can possibly become infected. A simple topical antibiotic usually clears up the infection within a few days.
More extreme medical conditions resulting from the bite from an insect or a venomous spider include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and respiratory problems. If a person is allergic to bees or the venom from ants, anaphylaxis could occur.
The formation of hives, shortness of breath or wheezing is a harbinger of worse symptoms to the allergic victim. These are often followed by unconsciousness and death, which can occur rapidly, sometimes within a half-hour.
Mosquitoes, which on their own rarely cause severe symptoms or medical conditions, are the number one carrier of death through the transmission of diseases. Ticks and lice are also notorious for spreading illness and death.
From West Nile virus to malaria, mosquitoes spread diseases through blood transmissions, while lice can transmit relapsing fever caused by spirochetes, a harmful bacterium, and ticks are well-known for the transmission of Lyme disease typically found in deep woodland areas. These diseases vary in symptoms and recovery, but severe medical issues and death are common.
BEST CHOICES IN WARDROBE
The clothing you choose to wear outdoors can make a huge difference between whether you enjoy your day out or become a snack to the insects nearby.
Believe it or not, the colors you wear make a significant difference in this area. If you are in bee territory, avoid dark colors and wear white if possible (notice that beekeepers wear white).
Colors such as yellow, orange and blue attract bees, while dark colors make them more aggressive. Conversely, ticks seem to gravitate toward the color white, while mosquitoes tend to avoid light colors. In addition, striped clothing has been observed to distract and disorient biting flies.
“After time spent outdoors, whether in the deep woods or playing in your own backyard, it’s very important that you examine your body for signs of bites (if the itching didn’t give them away) and also for insects still attached to or crawling on your skin.”
If you know your area of travel, then you can choose the appropriate colors and patterns to avoid the interest of the local insects.
That depends again upon the bug. Loose fitting clothing can help to reduce bites from mosquitoes. The long proboscis of the mosquito will have trouble reaching the skin if the clothing is loose and fluffy.
Alternately, pants tucked into boots, and arm cuffs closed off tight to the body help to keep ticks from accessing and embedding themselves under your skin.
Mosquitoes are attracted to many different and somewhat surprising types of scents, so be cautious of what you spray on yourself before venturing outside. Floral scents, found in body spray or perfumes, give mosquitoes the come-get-me signal and your skin will soon be feasted upon.
Leave the spray at home and your bites will likely be a lot fewer. As appealing as floral scents are, mosquitoes are also attracted to scents that would repel most humans.
Sweat, stinky shoes and sneakers, and cotton socks invite mosquitoes by the busloads. This combination of odors is like an all-you-can eat buffet sign to the biting bugs. If possible, skip the socks and wear breathable sandals or flip-flops in the warm spring or summer days, unless, of course, you’re hiking or working.
Physical barriers to keep insects out of your shelter or from reaching your bare skin should be used in conjunction with spray repellents to create the best possible defense against flies, mosquitoes, ticks, gnats and just about any biting bug.
A head net is a lifesaver from the constant swatting of biting flies and mosquitoes around your face. Not only can this flying insect activity be annoying, but it can distract you as you navigate through the woods and raise your stress and anxiety levels; two things that can cause poor decisionmaking and unexpected accidents. Head nets are relatively inexpensive, so packing one in your gear bag, as well as in your jacket or pants pocket is a sound idea.
On a larger scale, a full-size mosquito net can mean the difference between a great night’s sleep outdoors and eight hours of being plagued by blood-sucking predators. Netting comes in a variety of sizes and configurations, so choose the size that best fits your group’s needs.
In addition, be sure to carry cordage with you to secure the corners of your netting barrier. If the netting only drapes over you while you sleep, the proboscis of the mosquito can slip through the tiny screen openings and penetrate your skin.
PROTECTION IN A BOTTLE
One of the most popular and effective means to deter insects from feasting upon you is the use of insect repellents. These are available in many forms, such as sprays, lotions, and moistened treated wipes. The deterrent ingredients in these repellents also are diverse, from DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), to picaridin, to oil of eucalyptus, to citronella to dozens of natural and homemade preparations.
DEET and picaridin are two of the most widely used ingredients in mainstream over-the-counter insect sprays and they are considered more effective than natural products. Both are applied directly to the skin.
However, DEET is known to be damaging to some plastics such as eyewear frames and lenses, watch straps and components and other items commonly worn or handled while in the outdoors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend both formulas to repel mosquitoes, specifically, due to that particular insect’s ability to spread dangerous and, at times, deadly diseases.
Overall, in a number of studies performed to grasp the effectiveness of natural and artificial repellents, DEET and picaridin scored the best with the greatest length of deterrence, while natural ingredients had a much shorter protection time.
Permethrin is an effective repellant treatment for clothing and gear but should not be applied to the skin. It has also been shown to kill ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers and dozens of other insects. It can withstand multiple launderings, and can last a number of weeks before retreatment is needed, making it a convenient option for those who go outdoors often.
Choosing which repellent is right for you and your family should be based upon a few important factors. If you have young children, the exposure to chemical repellents should be limited. If you’re hunting, opt for an unscented option.
Find ones that state “For Kids” or “Safe on Children” or something to that effect. Kids tend to touch their face, eyes, and mouth throughout their day, so small amounts, applied by an adult, are recommended.
In addition, the location of your activities and the insects that you might encounter when outside should be taken into consideration. Some repellents are highly effective against certain insects but not others. You don’t want to learn this fact when deep in the woods, for example, as a swarm of biting flies are completely unfazed by your insect spray and continue their attack on your body.
There is much debate as to whether electronic devices placed throughout the home can deter insect activity. The theory is that small electronic devices that produce an ultrasonic sound cause disruption in roaches, flying insects and even rats and mice.
Lab tests show no conclusive evidence that this is an effective means of keeping pests from annoying you in your home. The overall suggestion is to skip the sound and stick with the methods proven to work effectively.
PERSONAL BODY CHECKS
After time spent outdoors, whether in the deep woods or playing in your backyard, it’s very important that you examine your body for signs of bites (if the itching didn’t give them away) and also for insects still attached to or crawling on your skin. Ticks are experts at this game of hide and seek.
They can crawl to areas unseen and often unfelt by their intended host. They can also become embedded under the skin without much, if any, pain and can begin to feed almost immediately. If ticks are left unnoticed, infection and disease (as mentioned earlier ticks are notorious for transmitting Lyme disease) can result.
Biting flies also can evade notice by securing themselves to a human’s clothing, hair or skin during mid-bite.
It’s wise to take off jackets, boots and any other heavy exterior clothing prior to entering your home, to prevent hitchhiking bugs from spreading throughout your living areas. A clothes dryer on its hottest setting will kill most insects that have made their way into the crevices, pockets and thick material of your clothing.
A NONSTOP BATTLE
With an estimated 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) insects alive on the planet at any given time, it is obvious that you can’t avoid them. You can, however, use the best means to keep them away from your tasty, tender skin.
Whether you use physical, chemical or natural means to prevent them from biting you, the more you know about these creepy-crawlies the better armed you will be to stop their aggressive and persistent attacks.
The Deadliest Killer on the Planet
According to the World Health Organization, the deadliest animal on Earth is the mosquito, killing more than 1 million people every year. As a carrier of the parasite that causes malaria, which is responsible for about one-half of the total number of mosquito-related deaths, the female Anopheles mosquito is the harbinger of death in Africa, South America and parts of India and the South Pacific.
It’s a sad fact that a child dies from malaria every 30 seconds and unfortunately there is no highly effective malaria vaccine at this time.
The West Nile virus and dengue fever add to the mosquito’s reputation of the deadliest killer on the planet. West Nile virus affects the nervous system and can become serious for people with weak immune systems, while dengue fever is often fatal if not treated properly or soon after contraction.
Preventive measures such as spraying, using physical barriers and staying away from standing water that is a breeding ground for mosquitoes are just a few ways to reduce the transmission of disease. Unfortunately, the problem overall is huge as people are constantly fighting for their lives against these creatures.
Coghlan’s Head Net
Don’t go into the woods without this unless you want to swat bugs away from your head all day long. Protects against the tiniest gnats, along with mosquitoes, flies, bees and more. It’s lightweight, best worn over a hat and it won’t disrupt your vision.
- Easy to see through
- Constructed of soft polyester
- Easily fits into stuff sack when not in use
- 220 holes per square inch keeps small bugs out
Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion
This amazing lotion offers long-lasting protection from disease-carrying insects and is highly safe for all family members, as well as gear and clothing. When you’re looking for an alternative to DEET, just rub the silky lotion on bare skin and enjoy hours of bite-free outdoor bliss.
- Repels ticks, mosquitoes and biting flies
- Mild citrus scent disappears when dry
- Effective for up to 14 hours
- Won’t harm gear or equipment
- Box of 14 packets
Coghlan’s Citronella Candles
Ideal for on-the-porch nighttime lighting and keeping bugs away, citronella offers a sweet, unique aroma as you enjoy a night under the stars. Simple yet effective, this candle can also be useful during power outages and blackouts.
- Repels irritating insects
- Pleasant citronella aroma
- 4- to 5-hour burn time per candle
- 6 candles per box
Be prepared to bite back with these useful deterrents! When you’re out of the secured confines of your home you face the uncertainty of Mother Nature. However, the one thing you can be sure of when you venture into her domain is that you’re on the menu of a plethora of tiny insects out for what lies beneath your skin. The only thing you can do is fight back, and these are the items that will help you do just that!.
Sawyer Maxi DEET Insect Repellent
When traveling to insect-infested territory, this item should definitely go with you. Sporting 98 percent DEET, this formula offers excellent repellency when facing an onslaught of biting bugs. Apply to skin, clothing, head net and more for safe, all-over protection.
- Protects from mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, gnats and ticks
- Effective for up to 10 hours
- Low-odor formula
- 3-ounce size meets airline travel requirements
Coghlan’s Double Wide Mosquito Net
You can’t function if you can’t sleep. This netting allows you a comfortable night’s sleep so you’re not constantly slapping biting bugs from your tender skin. Designed to protect two sleeping bags or cots, the netting will allow you and a companion to enjoy total protection all around you, held by a secure anchoring system. The rectangular net measures 78 x 63 x 59 inches.
- 240 ultra-fine mesh polyester netting
- 6 reinforced metal tie tabs
- Durable, mildew-resistant polyester construction
- Includes cord, anchors, hooks and nails for setup
Natrapel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
This plant-based spray repels mosquitoes for up to six hours using oil of lemon eucalyptus, the only naturally derived ingredient for bug protection that’s recommended by the CDC. The pleasant scent and non-greasy formula make this ideal for children. .
- 6-ounce continuous spray
- Repels mosquitoes for up to 6 hours
- Won’t harm synthetics or camping and fishing gear