Mosquitoes and the Great Outdoors

It’s glorious outside, so you head to the lake for a cookout or into the woods for a hike or even just onto the porch to sip iced tea and read a good book — and there are the mosquitoes, turning you from a happy outdoorsman or -woman into lunch.

Mosquitoes can smell the carbon dioxide you breathe, they can see you moving, and they can feel the warmth of your skin, so there’s not much you can do to hide from them.

Only female mosquitoes bite. When a mosquito chooses you for lunch, she pushes her proboscis into your skin and sucks your blood. Her saliva contains proteins that do double duty: they keep your blood from clotting while she’s busy drinking, and they also make the bite itch like crazy after she’s finished. In some cases, mosquito saliva also carries diseases like malaria and dengue fever.

Malaria was actually a pretty serious issue in Arkansas clear into the 20th century, but we now rarely face tropical diseases. That doesn’t take care of the itch-like-crazy problem, though.

The best defense against mosquitoes is to keep them away from your skin. Long pants and sleeves help, and you can see netting for hats in the photo. mosquito netting is also a big help for hammock camping.

There are chemical mosquito repellants, but they are not wholesome — DEET may be worth using in areas where it’s the alternative to West Nile virus, but it’s probably not the best option in Northwest Arkansas.

Instead, try mosquito coils or citronella candles. These scents confuse and repel mosquitoes.You need fairly high concentrations, so fire up a few on your porch or at your campsite. We carry them at Uncle Sam’s along with holders.

Ultraviolet lights and ultrasonic devices don’t work, so don’t waste your money on them.

 

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