We joke that the mosquito is the official “Maine State Bird”. With June comes an invasion, a new generation of insects. And, with all the rain this spring, they will be in record numbers throughout the US. In fact there are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes. While they feast on humans, I have read that 1 in 10 of us are magnets for them while others are rarely bit. When I worked at a summer camp, the British counselors not only got bit, but their skin swelled like a pin cushion, while I rarely ever got bit. There are smells and acids that come from our skin that attract these “birds of prey”. Mosquitoes are a rite of summer to be tolerated. So, what to do – here are my 9 survival tips:
1. Wind – got chores, choose a day with a breeze. It is sure to keep the mosquitoes away.
2. Early morning – mosquitoes don’t thrive in the cool morning temperatures but once the sun shines, they are out hunting for the next meal.
3. DEET – lots of debate about DEET, the chemical found in many repellents. I confess to using it but there is varying degrees of DEET in products and go as light as you can. But, when they are attacking, a good spray is your best friend.
4. I don’t usually endorse a product, but new to the repellent scene is a product made buy Off. It is a repellent pad that is popped into a plastic container armed with 2 batteries and a switch that essentially, blows a wall of repellant around you. It can be clipped on your clothing or to a chair. No spray and no mosquitoes. This product gets 2 thumbs up (from me).
5. Light color clothes. I have learned through experience that when hiking, wear loose, light colored shirts and shorts. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors particularly red and dark blue. So, lighten up when outdoors.
6. Other repellents – after talking about DEET, it needs to be said that there are many local products that don’t contain DEET and work well. For example, there is a small company in Fayette Maine that has a potion with a lemon smell and it seems to do the trick. Some people rave about Skin So Soft by Avon being effective against bites. I think your specific body chemistry dictates whether these work, but there are many natural repellants worth trying.
7. LL Bean ( and I presume others) sells a line of garments that have been pre-treated and repel insects. They are good for 30+ washes and great for hiking.
8. Go batty – the natural enemy of the mosquito is the bat. If you put up a bat house in your yard, each bat will eat 3,000 mosquitoes per night. Bat houses can be found in many hardware stores or easily built. Check out the internet for directions.Dragonflies also reduce the population. They will eat mosquitoes in all stages of development.
9. Standing water – look around your house or cottage – if there is standing water, this is where the mosquito is born and thrives. So, either fill in with dirt or get air to dry it as quickly as possible. I have tried tablets that you drop into bogs. I just don’t know if they are effective or not. But, hey, I’ll try anything.