Tuesday, September 28, 2021


Mosquito season tips and tricks

By Greg Illes
Here we are again — June and the warming of lakes and rivers, and billions of mosquito eggs. Soon (if not already), the pesky little demons will be upon us.

We’ve had minor skirmishes with the bloodsuckers (slap, swish, no biggie), and major events like the night from hell up in the northern Northwest Territories tundra in Canada (clouds of bugs covering us from head to toe).

Click here for larger image.

We found this poster/sign in the museum at Dawson, B.C., along the Alaska highway. Undefended, mosquitoes have always been a serious problem.

Through many states, provinces and seasons, we’ve learned some lessons about avoiding encounters of the blood-letting kind.

By far, the best defense against mosquitoes is to not be around them. We were up in Oregon one year, near Diamond Lake, and the clouds of mosquitoes hitting the motorhome windshield sounded like hail in a thunderstorm. We freaked out and abandoned our plan to stay there, hightailing it down the highway to the Rogue River instead.

At the river (moving water), the mosquitoes were 1/100th of the plague at the still-water lake. Takeaway? During the season, look for places that are not close to egg-laying areas. It might be difficult, but at least it’s a guideline.

Like most folks, we started out with DEET, until we realized there could be some unwanted side effects. This is a contentious subject, and I won’t get into it here. Suffice it to say we’ve gone to alternative products. We’ve found some success with herbal oils; this one from Amazon works pretty well for us. There are MANY other products (this is a link to natural bug repellents at Amazon.com) and lots and lots of reviews. The availability changes constantly, so it’s good to do research each year.

BugSwatterThere aren’t any sprays that you’d want to have around your food, clothing, kids or pets. The only “killer” we’ve found is a silly toy-like thing that has the appearance of a tiny tennis racket. The “netting” is actually an electrified grid (with the high voltage safely contained on the inner screen). When you swish a mosquito up into it, the bug gets zapped by the voltage. (Here are some at Amazon.com.)

It’s amazingly effective (and guiltily fun), but it’s really only useful indoors, where the little boogers are in limited supply. Otherwise, it’s just sport, because they keep on coming indefinitely. We find it super for clearing the coach after all the door and window screens are shut.

DSC_5573A head net is essential when the bugs are swarming, but you’ve got to have a brimmed hat — otherwise, they’ll just bite your scalp through the mesh. Mesh clothing is useful, but it must be kept away from the skin — again, the persistent pests will just bite through the mesh if it’s laying on your skin.

Rumors abound that mosquitoes are attracted more (or less) to different colors of clothing, or bright or dark clothing, etc. It’s easy to find precisely contradictory reports on this topic. Our experience has shown total nonchalance on the part of the bugs. They’ll bite whatever we are wearing. If it’s thin enough material, they’ll bite right through it.

Screens in the RV/trailer/tent must be completely sealed, no “bug leaks” allowed. We had a horrible time in NWT when they were coming in droves through a 1/8″ x 1/2″ gap in a bathroom vent screen. Find everything in your RV and tape it or plug it. And I mean EVERYTHING.

What has NOT worked?

  • The “burning pellet” products and wicks and candles are marginally effective, but useless in any kind of wind.
  • Mosquito-repellent clothing has never worked for us.
  • Electronic “sonic repellent” devices seem to be a bad joke; no effect whatsoever.
  • Pills, herbs, foods, etc., that are supposed to make you “unpalatable” to mosquitoes. Another joke.

If you have something that works for you, please help us all by leaving information in the Comments below.

Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his excellent blog at www.divver-city.com/blog .

##GI-6-20; ##RVT799


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Larry Large
4 years ago

When we were on a guided hike in the forests of the Cook Islands, we were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. The guide was telling us what all the different plants were good for. We asked if any would keep mosquitoes away. None of the plants would help but he gave us a homemade solution to apply. It was simply Dettol anti-bacterial soap mixed with baby oil. After trying it we didn’t get a single bite. It’s the only thing we use now.

Dan n
4 years ago

I watched a video by some rv’ers in Florida. They started taking B-12 and noticed they were not getting bit. They stopped taking it and got bit. I’m a Magnet for them. I have nightmares about them. I get dollar sized welts. So I’m trying B-12 as of 6-25-17 not 1 bite. I’m in Montana and it’s been a wet spring. PS, benadryl spray helps on a bit, a lot for me. I don’t go anywhere without it, in the summer.

Danni Dickinson
4 years ago

Here in Oklahoma we are getting a lot of bites. I have found that Avons Skin So Soft spray works great. It smells good also.

4 years ago

We also use a high-velocity fan while sitting outside. This has worked better than any sprays, candles etc.

Sam Lunt
4 years ago

I once read the comments of a lady who said her husband was a researcher in this area and he found that mosquitoes stay close to the ground. Usually not any higher than 10 feet or so off the ground. Also cedar wood seems to repel them. I had a cedar deck over my garage and in five years only encountered two mosquitoes while on my deck. Either the height or the cedar or both may have been the reason for these results.

4 years ago

Here’s what I’ve heard works:


Combine in a 16 oz spray bottle:
15 drops lavender oil
3-4 Tbsp of vanilla extract
1/4 Cup lemon juice.
Fill bottle with water.
Ready to use.

Alisa Brandenburg
4 years ago

Thanks, Greg! One may also make a homemade blend of essential oils that contain effective repellent. Trial and error works best and frequent applications.

Jerry Miller
4 years ago

When we sit outdoors we always have a fan blowing. The breeze keeps them away.

Steve Willey
4 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Miller

You are correct on the ultrasound bug repellers. I tested one extensively to consider having it in my own catalog. After detecting no effect at all on mosquitoes I opened it up in my electronic shop. It was a blatant fake, no working components at all. But don’t confuse this advice with ultrasonic mouse repellers — they really do work to keep mice from entering your sticks home while you are off months in the RV.

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