This season the mosquitoes are the worst I’ve ever experienced—and I’ve experienced a lot of mosquitoes! Yes, you can eat lots of citrus fruit and garlic, and avoid bananas (potassium is supposed to be an attractant). Taking vitamin B tablets is said to help. Even applying a combination of spices—cinnamon, rosemary, basil, thyme and allspice—to your skin is somewhat effective against mosquitoes. I’ve also heard lathering your skin with Vick's Vapour Rub works.

But this season, I need to get a little more serious.

I have two options: hide away indoors until they burn away with the heat of the summer, or gear up to win the battle (or at least deal with them without going bonkers!).

photoKevin Callan

Bug Dope

Bug repellent containing DEET (Diethyltoluamide) is the most effective. This chemical is mostly effective in keeping blackflies, mosquitoes, no-see-ums and ticks away from your exposed skin. I prefer Ben’s. It’s water-based, not alcohol-based. This means it doesn’t absorb into your skin as easily, you don’t have as much of a nasty bugspray odor and less of the DEET will evaporate. Plus, it doesn’t hurt like hell when you get some in your eyes. It’s not flammable, though, so don’t use it as a backup fire-starter.

Repellents not containing DEET are gentler to the skin and are almost as effective. They usually don’t last as long though. My choice is Natrapel—a plant based Citriodiol, derived from lemon eucalyptus trees. It lasts longer than most other botanic-based formulas (approximately six hours).

photoKevin Callan

Bug Hats/Jackets

Avoid the ones on sale, as they may only have mosquito mesh and not no-see-um mesh.  Blackflies and those nasty “punkies” will get in. Make sure the mesh is black as well—you can see out better. If it’s not, colour the portion in front of your eyes with a black marker. None of them are really comfortable to wear and I usually avoid them if I can. My choice is Ben’s new InvisiNet Bug Jacket & Mitts. It packs down to nothing and is one of the most comfortable to wear. I have to admit, I giggled at the mitts that were included... until I was doing camp chores and the mosquitoes started attacking my knuckles. There’s nothing worse than a bug-bitten, itchy knuckle.

photoKevin Callan

Bug Shelters

My all-time favourite weapon against bugs is my Eureka Bug Tarp: The No Bug Zone.

Eureka came out with a bug shelter system a few years back. It was originally made for the campground and equipped with aluminum poles for easy setup. I purchased one without the poles and it became a revolutionary piece of camp gear for me in the backcountry ever since.

Their original bug shelter was called the “VCS Parawing Shelter System.” It’s a regular rain tarp with a fine mesh netting attached to the four walls. It uses no-see-um netting, which makes the price is a little high but far more effective against “punkies.” The netting is attached to the four walls by plastic clips, making it possible to detach that section and just pack the tarp along during less-buggy conditions.

A new model was released last year: Eureka NoBugZone. It combines the tarp and bug mesh, eliminating the plastic clips (and a good chunk of weight—this version weighs in at 2.5 kg/5.5 lbs). It has three zipper sliders per door that allow use with a camping hammock. There’s also added tarp tie-offs, three per tarp edge, all reinforced; and internal gear rings allow you to set up a clothesline. You can use tie-back loops to hold back the bug mesh when you just want to use the shelter for shade or rain.

I wouldn’t set foot in the woods in early spring without a bug shelter. It gives you a place to escape the bugs after a long day on the trail or the water.

 photoKevin Callan

Bug Drugs

Make sure to throw in some Benadryl and After Bite to help calm your body’s reaction to the bug bites. If you are bitten enough, your glands will swell and you’ll become overwhelmed with nausea and fatigue.


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