Since warm weather and sunshine could be synonyms for summer, it is the best time to go camping or backpacking. Unfortunately, a side effect for nice weather is also mosquitoes, so let me provide some essential tips on how to control mosquitoes while you are camping or going for a longer backpacking trip.
Wear the right clothing
One of the most essential thing you can do, to protect yourself against mosquitoes when you are camping or spending a lot of time outdoors, is to choose the right clothing for these occasions.
One of the ways mosquito locates their targets is by detecting heat sources, and since we as humans radiate heat, we are giant lures for mosquitoes. You can somewhat combat this by wearing long clothing such as long pants, long shirts, socks and even hats or bandannas on your head. This way the clothing will create a type of shield, so the mosquitoes won’t be able to detect you as a good target and therefore won’t attack you so much.
Another trick is to wear this long clothing in light colors such as white, light blue, light green etc. Since light colors reflect the light not absorb it, it also reflects the heat, therefore making you less attractive to mosquitoes.
And the fabric of your clothing, especially your backpacking or camping outfits, is also very important because clothing essentially is your first line of defense against mosquitoes. So try to wear clothing that is made from fabrics like polyester or woven nylon, because these fabrics are thicker and mosquitoes will have a harder time to prick their proboscises through them and bite you.
Use mosquito repellent
I can’t stress enough the importance of using mosquito repellent. But in the case of camping and backpacking, you should not only use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET, but also a Permethrin based repellent.
DEET based repellents are great for short term effect. So if you use a repellent that contains a certain percentage of DEET, you will be able to apply the repellent and enjoy its effects for several hours, depending on how much DEET the repellent actually has.
But Permethrin-based repellents work a bit differently. Since Permethrin is a pesticide when you apply a Permethrin based repellent, it will not only stay on your clothing for several days up to even weeks and protect you from mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects, but it will also withstand washing of the clothing and rain. So if you know that you will be going camping, backpacking or even hiking, consider treating your clothing with Permethrin repellent. Just make sure that you put the Permethrin based repellent only on your clothing (or your camping gear as that will protect you from mosquitoes even further) and not your skin, as Permethrin absorbs poorly in the skin and can cause irritation to your skin.
Of course, if you are against chemical based repellents, there are some natural options for you. You can use a repellent that contains oil of lemon eucalyptus and has a similar effect as it would if you had applied a DEET based repellent. But since it is a natural repellent, its effects will fade much quicker, so you will have to reapply the repellent every couple of hours, which can be inconvenient especially when you are hiking a trail or having a blast camping.
Select a proper camping location
And the last thing to think about regarding mosquito control on camping and backpacking trips is where to set up your campsite. Your campsite probably will be the place where you will not only sleep but also where you will be at dawn and dusk a.k.a. the times when mosquitoes tend to be the most active.
Since mosquitoes breed in standing water, they naturally prefer places where this type of water is available.
On top of that during the day mosquitoes tend to hide in dark and cool areas, for example in bushes and tree trunks. So you can be sure that wooded and swampy areas will definitely have much larger mosquito population than open and dry areas. So chose your camping location wisely and go for a dry area which is pretty far away from any ponds or other water reservoirs.
Many prefer to set up camp in areas with a lot of trees around, but open areas are actually much better if you want to avoid mosquitoes. Yes, they won’t provide protection against wind or rain, but the wind and even rain will actually help keep mosquitoes away. So better to chose a bit sturdier tent and fasten it better to the ground then to suffer from mosquitoes or even contract one of the many mosquito-borne diseases.
And lastly, my advice to you would be just to do your research not only regarding the best campsites with the smallest mosquito population, but also research the time of the year when you will be going to that particular location, as often there are a couple of months in most places when mosquitoes are the worst in that particular area, and then it is worth rescheduling your trip than to get eaten alive by mosquitoes.