With 3500 species of mosquitoes, you may feel that they all seem to find you whenever you are out in nature. The good news is that not all species want to bite you, the bad news is that the Aedes vexans are the species found in all 52 United States, and they do like biting you. It is only the female that actually bites you, drawing blood like a syringe, and taking it back to their nest for egg production.
So why does it seem like mosquitoes bite some people more than others? Mosquitoes find you through the carbon dioxide that you give off. If you get bitten a lot, that means you are giving off more carbon dioxide than others. Larger humans produce more carbon monoxide and their greater skin mass makes them an easy target. Lactic acid produced in your sweat also attracts these blood suckers, along with the cholesterol and steroids found in your perspiration. Body heat, and movement are other attraction indicators for mosquitoes. So basically, if you’re a sweaty, large person who expels a lot of carbon monoxide, you are like a red flag waving at a bull.
Men tend to get bitten by mosquitoes more than women, and kids get bit the least. While clothing color can attract bees, the color of your clothes does nothing to repel or attract mosquito.
Keeping your skin covered is the best line of defense against mosquito bites. If you don’t have clothing to cover yourself, mud is the next best thing. Used by Native American’s back in the day, it served as a barrier between the skin and the insect. They also used animal fats and oils, rubbed onto their skin to ward off mosquitoes and black fly bites. Keep that in mind if you are ever stranded in a mosquito infested location with your car. You can use your car’s oil and grease to protect your skin until help arrives.
Smudge fires are another great way to repel mosquitoes, such as wormwood or sagebrush. Their aromatic qualities are highly effective. Add some cedar to the fire too, for even more protection. The cloud of smoke is intolerable to these insects. Green foliage, such as green pine, or other non-poisonous varieties, will create the most smoke.
Another natural insect repellent is the mint plant, specifically peppermint containing mentha piperita, better known as menthol, which is the active ingredient that repels insects. All you have to do is bruise the leaves of this plant and then rub them on your skin. It has a cooling effect. These plants grow in the wild and can be found by their distinct smell. A hybrid mint, peppermint is the result of crossing watermint with spearmint.
Nepeta cataria, better known as catnip, is also highly effective against insects when you rub the bruised leaves onto your skin. You can also infuse it with oil, if you happen to have some on you. Hang the leaves and stems around your shelter and inside as well to keep bugs out.
Most commonly, people know about the use of citronella grass for keeping mosquitoes away. Extracted from the Cymbopogon nardus, the oil has been used in candles and other commercial products. If you happen to be in a part of the world where this plant grows, all you have to do is bruise the leaves and rub them on you, using the rest to hang in and outside your shelter.
Lemon balm, snowbrush, wild bergamot, cedar, and sweet fern are other wild plants that will repel pesky mosquitoes. Being able to identify these plants, and others, will help you to quickly ward off insects when you need it most. Any botany guide is a great addition to your bug out bag whenever you are in the wilderness, to help you identify plants native to where you are.
Being prepared is always best.
- Wear long sleeves and pants treated with Permethrin. This insecticide will keep bugs away from you while the clothing itself prevents your skin from attracting them while protecting your skin from bites.
- Wear a bandanna to protect your neck
- Pack the insect repellent DEET, with a 30 to 50% concentration, which can last up to 12 hours after being applied.
- Bring along some mosquito netting, which can be small enough to fit in your pocket.
- Choose tents that have mosquito netting sewn in
- Wear hats with mosquito netting.
At home, in your own yard, you can drink cider vinegar with juice, or eat whole garlic to ward of mosquitoes. You can also rub cider vinegar on your skin to repel mosquitoes.The idea is that the vinegar and garlic will affect the smell of your sweat, repelling insects.
Use what works best for you, because once you get bitten by mosquitoes the itch can drive you crazy, not to mention certain diseases that mosquitoes can carry.