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Stop Bugging Me - OutdoorPlaces.Com

  A Guide To Insect Repellants - Page 2


bugSo, how do you bug proof yourself, or keep yourself at least less appetizing.  The first step is to know where you are going.  If you are hiking in Everglade National Park in the summer, mosquito netting and even gloves may be in order to keep all of your skin protected.  If you don't know if an area you are going to is going to be swarming with bugs, here is a good acid test.  Will you need sunscreen where you are going?  Generally, open areas where you will need sunscreen are windy enough to keep insects at bay, but be prepared for the windless day where the winged masses can descend upon you.  Follow this list to make yourself less tasty when you enter the great outdoors:

  • Stay away from large amounts of potassium and or sodium.  Although both are important to keep your electrolytes and metabolism in balance, large doses prior to entering the field will speed up your metabolism, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide you expel, making you more attractive to biting insects.

  • Stay away from perfumes and scented products.  Perfumes, scented deodorants, scented soaps and shampoos all increase your scent fingerprint in the wild.  Not only does this serve as an insect magnet, in bear country you can cause even worse attractions!  There are a number of unscented deodorants, shampoos and soaps available.

  • Don't hike when insect activity is high.  Biting insect activity is highest just around dusk.  In the backcountry, where shade from old growth forest shelters both wind and sunlight, activity can be almost equal through the day.  Keep tabs on the conditions you are in.

  • Keep your skin covered.  It is hard to get bitten if your skin is covered.  Long pants and shirts, hats, and mid-calf or thigh high socks all help protect your skin not only from insects, but from cuts and scrapes, wind and sunburn.

  • Use a combination of insect repellant products.  Spray down your clothing (or even better have a partner) with a 20% to 35% based DEET repellant.  Not only does this make you less appetizing, unlike the DEET that is absorbed on your skin, the repellant abilities on clothing can last for days.  Use a liquid, cream, or lotion to apply to your skin.  Make sure to get all exposed areas -- don't forget your ears, the back of your neck, and around the top of your socks as well as at your wrists.  Lotions are easier to control, and DEET in the eyes can cause permanent injury.  If you are going into extreme conditions, use a 100% based DEET formula for the exposed skin.  Finally, if your not wearing a hat, spray your hair down lightly -- don't breathe in and keep your eyes tightly closed when you do this.  If you start getting chewed up, add more -- but be as sparing as possible.  Nothing will make you 100% insect free.  Never put DEET based repellants on plastics, acetate, spandex or nylon, as the DEET can damage these materials.  Spraying your pack and jacket or rain gear, is not a good idea.

  • When camping, use a spray on your netting of your tent.  Be very careful not to spray the DEET on the tent itself, nylon based materials will be damaged and you can ruin waterproofing.  Spraying the netting on your tent lightly can help keep small flies and gnats out of your tent.  Also, make sure to keep your netting closed at all times.  Anyone who has had a mosquito in the tent will tell you, they know when it is 3:00 AM and know exactly where you ears are, there mission is not to take a bite, but to keep you awake!!!

  • In an emergency, be creative.  If nothing works, nothing will protect you better than a hooded poncho.  Take your emergency poncho out and cover up, hood and all, the insects will have a much harder time getting to you.  Make sure not to get overheated if you resort to this action.  People who have been lost or in a survival situation have laid in rivers or streams to get out of the hordes of biting insects, and moved when there was wind or at the heat of the day, when activity is reduced.

  • Carry some cortisone in your first aid kit.  Cortisone can be used to reduce the itch of biting insects, or the sting or stinging ones.  It can also help cut down swelling.  If you have severe reactions to insect bites, you should talk to your physician.  A large dose of benadryl can slow down the allergic reaction to multiple insect bites while you seek medical attention.  However, any action taken should be under the guidance of a skilled medical professional.

As always careful planning when going into the outdoors will greatly increase your experience.  By using the right products the right way, you can lower the amount of airborne irritations you will receive when out in the field.  Always remember that nothing is fool proof, and it is impossible to make yourself 100% bug free, except staying at home -- and what kind of fun is that...

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