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Mosquitoes Bite: How not to get eaten alive by this summer's bad crop of bugs 

How to protect yourself from mosquitoes.

click to enlarge mosquito.jpg
On an episode of Man vs. Wild, sap from a camphor tree is used as a natural mosquito repellent while hiking in the jungle. Not all of us have access to camphor trees, or the jungle, especially while trekking around the Cascade Lakes, which are notorious for horrible mosquitoes, especially this year. Luckily, there are other ways to prevent mosquitoes from attacking.

To prepare yourself for an outing in mosquito infested woods of Central Oregon, the American Mosquito Control Association (yes, such an association exists) recommends these basic things:

* Wear long sleeve shirts and pants (loose fitting clothes are better)

* Wear light colored clothes (dark colors attract mosquitoes)

* Apply repellent

But what do you do when you realize halfway through your hike that your mosquito repellent has been poured out by your four-year-old as an act of defiance for dragging him out into the middle of nowhere?

Chad Stubblefield, Manager of Four Rivers Vector Control, which is a local mosquito control unit, recommends a few options for those trapped in the woods without repellent. When mosquitoes are attacking in numbers, rubbing mud on yourself can prevent the insects from biting.

"Mosquitoes can't bite through mud," explained Stubblefield, who said Native Americans have used this method for generations. Too many mosquitoes attempting to bite you at once can be incredibly dangerous, which is why you might need to resort to plastering yourself in mud.

If there is no mud nearby, then Stubblefield recommends a few other options.

"If a person was lost in the forest and being overwhelmed with mosquitoes, they could light a fire," said Stubblefield. "They hate smoke."

While smoke as a natural mosquito repellent can help when in need, those worried about starting a forest fire have other choices.

"Another way to avoid mosquitoes is to just simply get away from standing water," said Stubblefield, who encouraged anyone lost in the woods to get away from areas that are infested with mosquitoes.

"The farther away from water, the thinner they will be," he said, unless you're in the high lakes of our region, which Stubblefield noted as one of the worst areas for mosquitoes.

While mud can both deter mosquitoes and make for an excellent facial mask, if you're out in the woods and do have access to your car, check to see what options you have before you go to extremes.

"Catnip has been noted for years as possessing repellency against mosquitoes," said Joe Conlon, the Technical Advisor for the AMCA. "Dryer sheets, sonic repellers and various plant extracts are purported to be repellent, but double-blind studies on their efficacy have either not been performed, or their repellency has been demonstrated only in formulations unacceptable to human subjects."

While the expert may not consider them "AMCA approved" if you find any of these items in your car, it is always worth a try.

Whether you get trapped without repellent or your four-year-old is better behaved than most children, and your repellent is safe, remember the basics of preventing mosquitoes and keep those little buggers from even considering you a tasty candidate.

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