Conquering Mosquitoes: The Unwanted Camping Partner

Living where we do, here in Houston, TX, the mosquitoes are in a word: HORRIBLE! Unfortunately, our climate is a tropical one with high heat and high humidity, and that’s a perfect combination to make Texas the mosquito capital of the world. OK, I’m not sure if that has been proven as a scientific fact, but it certainly feels like it.

Now, for those of us who have ever been lounging with friends or family and were attacked by a swarm of these tiny little bloodsuckers, your first thought might be; “Why are they all over me while Jack is just sitting there enjoying his evening?” Here comes the science again. According to an article I found on MSNBC:

…it may be that these folks are born with a scent that keeps mosquitoes and other biting insects away. Recent research has isolated chemicals emitted by “bug-proof” individuals, which appear to counteract the odors that hungry bloodsuckers generally home in on.

…For people who rarely get bitten, the prevailing wisdom had been that they do not emit these chemical flags.

This isn’t necessarily true. Keep in mind, before you start getting jealous of Jack who is seemingly enjoying his evening out camping, while you feel you are having your blood drained one drop at a time that…

…everyone is “juicy” to some extent. It is just that certain individuals exude chemicals that mask the attractive smells or simply repel biting insects.

Now that’s all well and good, but the fact of the matter is YOUR discomfort needs to be resolved so you can enjoy your evening making S’mores, or talking with your campground neighbor, or having a cold beer by a nice evening fire. So how do you do that? I hate to say it, but you might just have to tolerate it. Unfortunately, until better products come on the market, you are relegated to chemical sprays or natural repellents. Neither of these are foolproof.

Currently, most insect repellents contain DEET, which is a synthetic compound. Although the Environmental Protection Agency has found DEET to be safe if used properly…natural chemicals, which some of us emit from our bodies, could make for a better repellent. (In addition, we humans would perceive the repellents as being odorless.)

So, at the moment those are your two choices….chemicals which can be effective (but is still a chemical) or natural products like citronella, which try to cover up our animal smell.

Now, of course there are a whole host of nifty gadgets that can help in your declaration of war against mosquitoes like:

So, while there is no fool proof way to keep the bugs away, there are ways to decrease their attraction to you…and this might mean standing next to someone who has “sweeter meat” than you.

Have any terrible bug stories? Let’s hear ’em!