Mosquito Bite Protection - Ten Tips for Forest Users

Protection Tips for People Working and Playing in the Forest

By Steve Nix, Guide


University of Connecticut

There is a risk of mosquito bite every time you enter a forest or work in and around the woods. In addition to being uncomfortable, mosquito insect bites can cause illnesses which include several types of encephalitis, dengue and yellow fever, malaria, and West Nile virus. The actual bite comes from the evening and night-time feeding female.

Late summertime is mosquito season. Wet weather and high humidity during warm weather rapidly increases mosquito populations. More insects generate more bites and a greater likelihood for the spread of disease.

Annual West Nile virus outbreaks are increasingly in the news. You do need to be aware of potential health issues and to prevent mosquito bites. But don't worry too much. In reality, according to mosquito expert Dr. Andrew Spielman, "Your chances of getting a disease are one in a million".

So the good news is, human illness from West Nile virus is rare in North America, even in areas where the virus has been reported. The chance that any one person is going to become ill from a mosquito bite is low. The bad news is, if you work or play in the woods your chances for bites go up which increases your exposure to mosquito-borne disease...

Here are ten tips to help you reduce the risk of mosquito bite:

1. Apply insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) when you're outdoors.

2. Wear loose fitting clothes to help prevent mosquitoes from reaching the skin and to retain less heat.

3. When ever possible, wear long-sleeved clothes, socks and long pants.

4. In a forest, wear clothing that helps you blend in with the background. Mosquitoes hone in on color contrast and movement.

5. Treat your clothes with permethrin repellents. Do not use permethrin on your skin!

6. Avoid perfumes, colognes, fragrant hair sprays, lotions and soaps which attract mosquitoes.

7. Reduce your risk of exposure by staying indoors during peak mosquito feeding hours (from dusk until dawn).

8. Avoid lingering in places where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Usually this is around standing water.

9. Spray a pyrethrin into the air when confined to a certain outside area.

10. Taking vitamin B, garlic, eating bananas, constructing bat houses and hanging insect "zappers are not effective against mosquitoes.

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W. Justin Sealy
Area Forestry Teacher
Georgia Department of Education