By Greg Illes
Here we are again — June and the warming of lakes and rivers, and billions of mosquito eggs. Soon (if not already), the pesky little demons will be upon us.
We’ve had minor skirmishes with the bloodsuckers (slap, swish, no biggie), and major events like the night from hell up in the northern Northwest Territories tundra in Canada (clouds of bugs covering us from head to toe).
We found this poster/sign in the museum at Dawson, B.C., along the Alaska highway. Undefended, mosquitoes have always been a serious problem.
Through many states, provinces and seasons, we’ve learned some lessons about avoiding encounters of the blood-letting kind.
By far, the best defense against mosquitoes is to not be around them. We were up in Oregon one year, near Diamond Lake, and the clouds of mosquitoes hitting the motorhome windshield sounded like hail in a thunderstorm. We freaked out and abandoned our plan to stay there, hightailing it down the highway to the Rogue River instead.
At the river (moving water), the mosquitoes were 1/100th of the plague at the still-water lake. Takeaway? During the season, look for places that are not close to egg-laying areas. It might be difficult, but at least it’s a guideline.
Like most folks, we started out with DEET, until we realized there could be some unwanted side effects. This is a contentious subject, and I won’t get into it here. Suffice it to say we’ve gone to alternative products. We’ve found some success with herbal oils; this one from Amazon works pretty well for us. There are MANY other products (this is a link to natural bug repellents at Amazon.com) and lots and lots of reviews. The availability changes constantly, so it’s good to do research each year.
There aren’t any sprays that you’d want to have around your food, clothing, kids or pets. The only “killer” we’ve found is a silly toy-like thing that has the appearance of a tiny tennis racket. The “netting” is actually an electrified grid (with the high voltage safely contained on the inner screen). When you swish a mosquito up into it, the bug gets zapped by the voltage. (Here are some at Amazon.com.)
It’s amazingly effective (and guiltily fun), but it’s really only useful indoors, where the little boogers are in limited supply. Otherwise, it’s just sport, because they keep on coming indefinitely. We find it super for clearing the coach after all the door and window screens are shut.
SCREENS and CLOTHING
A head net is essential when the bugs are swarming, but you’ve got to have a brimmed hat — otherwise, they’ll just bite your scalp through the mesh. Mesh clothing is useful, but it must be kept away from the skin — again, the persistent pests will just bite through the mesh if it’s laying on your skin.
Rumors abound that mosquitoes are attracted more (or less) to different colors of clothing, or bright or dark clothing, etc. It’s easy to find precisely contradictory reports on this topic. Our experience has shown total nonchalance on the part of the bugs. They’ll bite whatever we are wearing. If it’s thin enough material, they’ll bite right through it.
Screens in the RV/trailer/tent must be completely sealed, no “bug leaks” allowed. We had a horrible time in NWT when they were coming in droves through a 1/8″ x 1/2″ gap in a bathroom vent screen. Find everything in your RV and tape it or plug it. And I mean EVERYTHING.
What has NOT worked?
- The “burning pellet” products and wicks and candles are marginally effective, but useless in any kind of wind.
- Mosquito-repellent clothing has never worked for us.
- Electronic “sonic repellent” devices seem to be a bad joke; no effect whatsoever.
- Pills, herbs, foods, etc., that are supposed to make you “unpalatable” to mosquitoes. Another joke.
If you have something that works for you, please help us all by leaving information in the Comments below.
Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his excellent blog at www.divver-city.com/blog .