Road Trip Survival Guide – Coping with Mosquitoes

This entry is a part of a series. Check out the rest of the Road Trip Survival Guide for more valuable information.

The Ubiquitous Irritant


Whether you’re road tripping, hiking, backpacking, train hopping, hitchhiking, or camping – if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors – especially in the summer – you ‘re going to have to put up with insets. While bees, spiders, and ticks may present greater threats (particularly to people with certain allergies), I would argue that there is no more ubiquitous and annoying insect than the mosquito. So let’s talk about how to avoid them.

Commercial & Natural Repellents

Most commercial repellents contain a chemical referred to as DEET (diethyltoluamide). They are sold in concentrations up to 100%. The CDC recommends concentrations of 30% to 50%.

A variety of natural repellents have been advocated by various groups and individuals, with varying efficacy. The most commonly cited repellents include citronella, eucalyptus oil, lavender, and tea tree oil.

Avoid Wisconsin and Minnesota

You’ll hear a lot of people whine about how bad the insects are down south and – to be sure – insects do get pretty big down south with their longer growing seasons. But I’ve been to all 48 states and – with the exception of the 12 I visited last week – I’ve been to all of them between the months of May and September. So I feel I’ve got a pretty good handle on what each of these states is like during the summer.

In all of my travels, I have never encountered more insects (and mosquitoes, especially) than I have in the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Both of these states satirically claim their state bird to be the mosquito.

Seek Out and Avoid Certain Conditions

Mosquitoes flourish in hot and humid weather. If you are able to, travel to places that are cooler (25°C or below) or travel to warm places with less humidity, like the southwest.

Also try to avoid camping out near bodies of standing water – this is where mosquitoes lay their eggs and congregate. Small lakes and ponds are ideal homes for bugs. Larger lakes with substantial waves, flowing creeks, streams, and rivers make better campsites for humans.

Look for places out in the open where wind can flow freely. Open fields, shores, and mountain sides are ideal. Trees in forests can act as windbreakers, which make it easier for mosquitoes to fly around.

Mosquito Netting

Most tents are built with panels that can be opened that are lined with mosquito netting, so that air can circulate into the tent without allowing insects into the tent. If camping out in your vehicle, consider purchasing some mosquito netting. It’s a form of utility fabric that is very inexpensive. Cut out a piece the size of one of your windows and glue strip magnets along the perimeter of the netting. This way you can roll down your windows but still have a protective barrier against insects infiltrating your vehicle.

Other Ideas?

Have I missed anything? What tricks do you use to repel mosquitoes and other insects? Do you have questions? Do none of these solutions work for you because of specific circumstances that I haven’t considered? Whatever you’re thinking – I would love your feedback! Help me make this Road Trip Survival Guide the best it can be.

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