If you’re a frequent traveller you’ll know that you’re often required to get an anti-malaria shot to be allowed into certain countries. Because mosquitoes mostly feed between sunset and sunrise, there’s a good chance that you’ll have females in the air around your campsite or in your tent during and between these hours – though they are day biters as well.
It’s a good idea to wear trousers and long-sleeve shirts when you’re in the great outdoors and are unsure of the malaria risk. Or if you just don’t like the annoying buzz of a mosquito. But avoid colours that are going to stand out, like red and blue and even black – rather go with white or neutral colours. Along with their sense of smell and chemical receptors, mosquitoes also use vision to figure out where to bite.
Another solid option is a good old mosquito net. Obviously you’ll have to be certain that the area you’re covering, be that a bed or your evening chill spot under the gazebo, hasn’t already been contaminated. Of course, there are also a number of mosquito repellents and bite balms available on the market, like citronella oil and candles, lemon eucalyptus leaf extracts, lotions, sprays and wristbands that thankfully can also fit around ankles. You even get mosquito-repelling soap. Some of these contain diethyltoluamide and icaridin, which interferes with the mosquito’s ability to detect your chemical emissions.
If your campsite has electricity, consider a plug-in device that uses a pyrethroid as a key ingredient – the ones with the screw-in refills. Or your regular sprays such as Doom or Raid from the supermarket. Mosquito coils also contain a pyrethroid and don’t require electricity. They come with handy metal support stands used to keep the coil off any surface that can ignite and can burn for a few hours.
It’s important to note that pyrethroids are toxic to not only mosquitoes but also ants, cockroaches and spiders. That may sound attractive to the petrified campers, but pyrethroids also kill beneficial insects such as honeybees (which are highly endangered). According to Dr Pia Addison, a researcher and senior lecturer at the Stellenbosch University’s Conservation Ecology and Entomology department who works in the field of pest management, there’s no definitive proof that pyrethroids are dangerous when humans are exposed to it over a long period.
“There’s a reason that pyrethroids are in the majority of household bug killers and that’s because they do have a rather low level of mammalian toxicity. The long-term effects in a human being would be very difficult to measure.
“I find the safest solution to be mechanical exclusion – covering up any exposed skin. And if you’re going to be in a malaria-risk area to take prophylactics (anti-malaria medication).”
You can find recipes for creating your own repellent at home – using nothing but stuff from your pantry and garden, like apple cider vinegar, sage, lavender and rosemary. Mosquitoes are also not fond of the scent marigolds give off. The flowers range in colour and the plant is able to grow in fairly difficult conditions, including poor soil and prolonged periods of direct sunlight.
go! Drive & Camp says There’s no proof that quinine-containing tonic water (the T in G&T) helps to repel mosquitoes. Munching on a clove of garlic may help, however.