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How do you survive the bugs?
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Alina G
(Alina) - MLife

Locale: Toronto, Ontario
How do you survive the bugs? on 08/18/2012 23:14:37 MDT Print View

I have posted recently a question on natural bug sprays but it looks like that there are not that many people on whom natural stuff works. Anything else that might work (other than DEET and the like)?What about physical barriers for example? Does it work for you? How do you go about it?
I am thinking of getting this head net Does anyone have it? Do you liked it? Any problems with it? Are you using any other head nets?
There is also this shirt but I see that people complain about it being hot.
I read that you should wear tightly woven clothes but what does it mean exactly? How do I know if something is woven tightly enough? Any particular fabrics, brand names? I think that clothes that are yellow, light beige and light blue are good. Dark blue and dark beige are bad?
What about vit B patches?
Anything else that works well against bugs? How do you survive the bugs (other than using DEET)? Any tips are greatly appreciated.
Thank you.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: How do you survive the bugs? on 08/18/2012 23:19:23 MDT Print View

I like the 20% Picardin sprays now available. Works nearly as well as Deet(for me) and won't melt plastics. Goes on nice and light and does not feel all greasy.

BPL's very own Peter Vacco makes some nice head nets

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How do you survive the bugs? on 08/18/2012 23:30:47 MDT Print View

It is a playoff between the possible effects of DEET and a bug borne disease, not to mention the annoyance. You don't have to bathe in the stuff-- a few drops go a long ways.

But, to answer your question, Permethrin treated clothing is another defense. I found that a treated bandanna tied around my neck kept them away from my face and neck. We were camping in a area with small ponds that was pretty bad and this worked.

It would be interesting to try making treated wrist bands, as my hands are the next target. I do use a few drops of DEET on the backs of my hands.

I like the OR spring head net, which keeps the fabric and the bugs far from my face. A wide brimmed hat and big loose bug net over the hat can accomplish the same, like a bee keeper. There are some hats made with nets built in.

I recommend buying a light colored wind shirt so it can be used for sun and bug protection.

Pants with gathered cuffs help on that end. A bit of string or a rubber band can substitute.

And I have a teeny tiny little shotgun TO GET THEM ALL!!! MUHAHAHAHAH..... sorry, it's the DEET, I know it.

Mike V
(deadbox) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
RE:"How do you survive the bugs?" on 08/18/2012 23:34:57 MDT Print View

Headnets are a godsend when the bugs get way outta control, but can be somewhat claustrophobic while hiking in them. Your best defense against bugs is long sleeve pants and shirt. It sounds like you are looking for non-chemical options but I highly recommend treating your clothes with permethrin for keeping off the ticks if nothing else.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: How do you survive the bugs? on 08/18/2012 23:53:08 MDT Print View

Tightly woven clothing means there are no holes in it for the mosquito to stick it's probiscus through

I don't know about brands - I make my own - Supplex or Taslan fabric is good

If it's tightly woven then air flow is less so it's warmer

I tried Cedarcide cedar oil based - smells good, but mosquitoes kept biting me.

4 foot diamter circle of netting works - put it over hat - also good if you're sleeping

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: How do you survive the bugs? on 08/19/2012 00:22:30 MDT Print View

There are alternatives to DEET that work well (according to independent testing). Several years ago (at least) there was a study written up in, of all places, the Wall St. Journal that compared different non-DEET alternative repellents. The winner at that time was a spray with 30% lemon oil of eucalyptus (aka Repel) - worked as well as 21% DEET, if I recall correctly. I've used it, and it works quite well for me in heavy mosquito times in the Sierra Nevada. Before that article, I was using the runner-up (a product called Bite Blocker) which is made with derivatives of soy oil; I used it in SE Alaska as well as the Sierra, and it worked well for me. I do find I need to re-spray every couple of hours, but that's not a big deal for me.

There is a newer product made from something originally extracted from tomato plants; it's called BioUD and marketed by the same folks who made (and still make) Bite Blocker. According to its literature it lasts longer than DEET and is as effective. When my Repel runs out, I'm getting that:

The lemon eucalyptus product is called Repel:

Don't bother using other "natural" products other than those 3 I mentioned; only those ones have done well in independent testing, citronella and others really bombed in the WSJ article.

I spray face, neck, hands, socks, and any other exposed skin, as well as my hat brim.

I second the vote for Peter Vacco's headnets when the mosquitoes are really swarming; they are SO much better than any others because it's easier to see and breathe through them.

Woven nylon pants and shirts (you can find plenty of those at Sierra Trading Post or any outdoor retailer) are also a good line of defense.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
BUGS. Insectshield your own clothes. on 08/19/2012 09:21:18 MDT Print View

You can now get long lasting Insectshield treatments of your own clothes at about $10/item plus shipping.

When the bugs are really bad, the only thing that really works is full bug armor with no exposed skin, i.e., long pants, long sleeve shirt, hat+headnet, gloves, preferably permethrin treated. I don't like DEET because I always worry that it will affect my asthma, so I use permethrin treated full armor. These are excellent but heavy. I don't have one but I'm always tempted by them. These are often used in the far north during mosquito season.

Headnet: Peter Vacco's headnets are the best and the only ones I can tolerate. Second best would be the headnets that have a spring circle to hold it off your face. The Coghlan's would be OK, especially with the right hat.

Most testing is done on mosquitoes and not on black flies. Flies seem not to be as repelled by DEET as mosquitoes.

Permethrin works well, but is not a repellent. Bugs landing on it or crawling across will die or fall off, but bugs an inch away will be unaffected.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: How do you survive the bugs? on 08/19/2012 10:03:12 MDT Print View

I don't use bug spray.

I completely cover up head to toe with nylon wind pants, wind breaker, hat and head net. I also wear light gaiters and the sleeves of my windbreaker are long enough to cover my hands.

All my clothing is oversized and the looseness helps with the heat.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"How do you survive the bugs?" on 08/19/2012 10:41:39 MDT Print View

Nylon pants, long sleeved sun-shirt(tight weave), sun-grubbies on my hands with a spritz of deet if necessary--which is almost never. In prime insect months I wear a solumbra sun hat that has a drape. One can close the drape all the way up over your nose with velcro attachments when you get into bad mosquito territory; then "un-zip" it when you're in the clear. With this set up I don't even need permethrin anymore; certainly not deet. Oh and I carry a bug net for in camp.

Cristina Connolly
(anacri) - F

Locale: South Florida
Unfortunately, deet is the only thing that works for us. on 08/19/2012 17:09:11 MDT Print View

I live in South Florida and frequently go out to the Everglades, aka Mosquito Heaven.

I use the same head net you're looking at over a wide brim hat, a dry fit shirt (tucked into my pants), a linen oversized collared long sleeve shirt (left tucked out), long pants with elastic cuffs, thick wool socks and chacos.

My linen shirt is large enough to cover my hands, but I use 100% deet on my hands/wrist if the bugs are bothering me too much. As long as the head net goes over the collar of my shirt, I have no trouble with bugs. I got used to the net very quickly. I forget it's there and sometimes try to drink water with it over my face.

I've tried a few other bug sprays, but nothing but 100% deet seems to work on the South Florida mosquitoes. On the bright side, I'm covered up enough to where I only need a little on my hands. My husband uses the same set up. Works well here!

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Garlic rendered in olive oil on 08/19/2012 17:17:42 MDT Print View

Use garlic rendered/cooked in olive oil. Searcg google for a source of ingredient quantities/recipe. I has worked for me.

Edited by zelph on 08/19/2012 17:48:17 MDT.

Tom Beno
(KillerB) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Skip the Coghlan's head net on 08/19/2012 17:28:37 MDT Print View

If you've got enough bugs to require a head net, go with PetersHeadnets. He has pretty much perfected the design: light, easy to see through, useful crown, no gaps or uncovered areas.

I also concur with several of the previous recommendations: light colored clothing, permethrin treated. Eucalyptus oil (for me) has proven reasonably good as a repellent; it doesn't last nearly as long as DEET, but is nearly as effective.

The Bugshirt (and pants) work. But they are HOT. Anything but breathable. For a car camp or basecamp situation in really horrid bug conditions these could be the ticket, but otherwise they are sweaty overkill.

Edited by KillerB on 08/19/2012 17:32:00 MDT.

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

skip the garlic on 08/19/2012 17:50:42 MDT Print View

Skip the garlic, go with using the cloth.

Edited by zelph on 08/19/2012 17:52:34 MDT.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Unfortunately, deet is the only thing that works for us. on 08/19/2012 18:29:52 MDT Print View

Cristina - Just curious, have you tried lemon eucalyptus, BiteBlocker, or BioUD? I'd love to know your experience with those, since the first two have seemed to work well for me everywhere (including the Everglades last year, come to think of it, but I will say it wasn't high season...November, not June!). I've always assumed that people who say nothing but DEET works haven't tried those ones, but I might be very wrong.

Things like Avon Skin So Soft, or Citronella, or other health food repellents have been ineffective, that's for sure. Since I am rarely in really horrendous mosquito conditions, I prefer to use non-DEET repellents, but I might change my tune if I lived in FL (or go with picaridin). The aforementioned alternatives seem quite sufficient for me so far.

So you wear linen over another shirt? I would've guessed that linen wouldn't keep them from biting through (since cotton doesn't) - but is the dry fit shirt long sleeved? Maybe it's the two layers they can't bite through? The woven nylon is warmer than I'd like in FL, so perhaps I'll try your approach next time I'm down that way.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
How do you survive the bugs? on 08/19/2012 19:54:56 MDT Print View

I live in Alaska and we've got areas where the mosquitoes are just awful. Even so, I detest DEET and will wear it only in the direst of circumstances. In the past several years, in even the worst mosquito conditions, I've found wearing long sleeves, long pants, long socks, gloves and mosquito head net provides 100% mosquito proof coverage without having to use any poison. This year I began trying out permethrin and have treated one coat so far. It does seem to help a little. But mostly I just use clothes.

Michael C
(chinookhead) - F - M
Permethrin and Picardin on 08/19/2012 20:39:38 MDT Print View

1)I've been using Picardin 20% for 6 years and I have had pretty good success with it (comparable to deet). However, I find that it has to be re-applied more than Deet. I don't use deet b/c of my fear of its toxicity, but mainly b/c of what it does to gear. It degrades common hiking fabrics (nylon etc.) and weakens monofilament fishing lines.

2) This year I tried treating all my hiking clothing with permethrin spray for my month long trip in Colorado. This was the most effective system that I've ever used. Additionally, I was always covered head to toe with clothes (sun gloves, light long sleeve shirt, and pants). I got one bite the whole trip. One day, I watched a hiking partner get eaten up even though he used DEET. I only used picardin as a precaution when they were really thick. I treated everything including socks, boots, hat, and backpack. I'm so sold on it that next time I am also going to try treating my tent, so there is less fear of opening and closing the tent.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Permethrin and DWR on 08/20/2012 01:02:58 MDT Print View

Does permethrin play nice with DWR?

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Permethrin and DWR on 08/20/2012 01:34:42 MDT Print View

It's hard to tell how well permithrin works, but permithrin over DWR seems to reduce water shedding.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Permethrin is mostly useless for mosquitoes on 08/20/2012 03:50:15 MDT Print View

I work in the field during the summer, so I'm exposed to loads of mosquitoes every day. We also have lots of ticks in my area, so I treat my clothes (long-sleeve nylon shirt and pants) with permethrin. The permethrin works wonderfully on ticks but does almost nothing for mosquitoes. Even if you're clothes are treated, they will still find your head and hands. The only way to keep them off your exposed skin is gloves/head netting or DEET.

So, I'd say that unless ticks are a big worry, don't bother with the permethrin. It's nasty stuff, anyway, and you'd be wise to minimize your exposure to it.

Cristina Connolly
(anacri) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Re: Unfortunately, deet is the only thing that works for us. on 08/20/2012 08:22:49 MDT Print View

You're right in that deet users don't want to try other things. I had no choice as last summer I was working with a pilot whale 4 days a week for 3 months and deet was not allowed around her. The staging area was the shore of a mangrove. We tried everything out there... even several home remedies some other people brought in. There were a few things that helped a little... eucalyptus oil based spray did marginally better than nothing. Because we weren't moving around, what ended up working best was pointing industrial fans in our direction. Too much wind for bugs to fly!

As for the linen shirts, yes they work well for us. Granted they are thick linen. My dry fit shirt is short sleeves, my husband sometimes uses a long sleeve. I can't handle the heat with two long sleeved shirts, and one works fine. I think they key is they have to be very large. I usually wear XS-S, my hiking shirt is L.