With the start of travel season comes one unfortunate side effect: bug season. While we’re fortunate to live in an area where mosquito bites are typically just an annoyance, ticks are a fairly common problem and the rising prevalence of bug born illnesses has many people rethinking their bug protection routine. Of course, those with international travel plans need to be particularly proactive about bug protection. To help you have a fun and bug free experience on your next adventure, our team of travel experts has put together a list of our most effective bug prevention strategies.
It may sound simple, but the more covered you keep your skin, the less chance there is that you’ll be bitten. Lightweight long sleeve tops and long pants will keep you protected without overheating. Because sight is one of the senses that mosquitoes use to find their next meal, it’s always a good idea to steer clear of dark clothes, in favor of light, whenever possible. Our favorite options are long sleeve synthetic shirts with mesh panels for airflow, like the Percorsa or Reef Runner shirts from Exofficio.
Choose Your Spray Wisely
Most heavy duty bug sprays rely on either picaridin or DEET. While both are very effective at repelling mosquitoes and black flies, there are plusses and minuses to both. Think about what kind of bugs may be a problem where you’re heading- DEET is somewhat more effective against ticks, but picaridin does a better job keeping no-see-ums at bay. The effect on your clothing is another factor to keep in mind. DEET can damage synthetics (think every non-wool/bamboo piece of technical clothing you own), so be careful to keep it away from your clothing and other synthetic gear when applying and wash your clothing frequently to get rid of any residue.
Double Up Your Protection
To keep as protected as possible, we’re huge fans of using bug repellant clothing, in addition to, topical bug protection. Permethrin spray is a bug repellant designed to bond to fabrics. It can be sprayed on your clothing and gear to provide an inexpensive second layer of defense against bugs, with each application lasting up to two weeks. If you’d like longer lasting protection, several brands, including Exofficio, have started making clothing pre-treated with permethrin, that keep their effectiveness for over 70 washings.
Eco note: while permethrin is considered to be extremely safe for humans and warm blooded animals, it has been shown to be very harmful to cold blooded creatures. We don’t recommend using permethrin spray or permethrin treated clothing for water sports and hikers should use caution when crossing streams.