How to Avoid Mosquito Bites
You probably don't want to take home a collection of mosquito bites from your holiday as a souvenir. Not only are they incredibly itchy, but depending on where you are, just one tiny bite can result in a potentially life-threatening infection such as malaria or West Nile virus. It is important that you know how to protect yourself and your family from insect bites - a multi-pronged attack is the best defence against mosquitoes and other biting insects.
Mosquito Bite Prevention Basics
The following mosquito bite prevention tips cannot guarantee you won't get bitten, but they will significantly reduce your chances of insect bites and mosquito-borne diseases.
Maximum concentration DEET insect repellent spray for extreme conditions. Provides 5 to 6 hours of protection against biting insects. Ideal for times when reapplying insect repellent regularly is inconvenient.
Cover Your Skin
By far the easiest way to avoid bites is to cover your skin with long sleeves, trousers and socks, especially at dusk and dawn when many mosquito species are most active. Don't forget vulnerable areas of your body such as your lower back and the back of your neck, which can sometimes become exposed unintentionally. Mosquitoes can still bite through thin materials, so the thicker and tougher the fabric you are wearing, the better. Try to wear light coloured clothing – mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colours.
Wear Unfragranced Toiletries
Fragranced toiletries with strong scents such as perfume, body spray, deodorant, body lotion, hairspray, soap, shower gel and make-up are thought to make people more attractive to biting insects. Use unscented toiletries so you don't deliberately invite the mozzies.
Avoid Standing Water
Stay away from areas with standing or stagnant water, such as ponds and swamps, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. At home, ensure standing water is cleared from gutters, paddling pools, birdbaths, wheelbarrows, buckets, flowerpots and other outdoor containers, especially after rainfall. There is no point in encouraging the local mosquito population to thrive on your doorstep.
Wear Insect Repellent
Use an insect repellent spray or lotion on exposed areas of skin. Choose a repellent with proven effectiveness, such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. If insect repellents are used according to instructions, they are perfectly safe for adults and children. Alternatives to topical repellents include insect repellent wristbands, citronella candles and mosquito smoke coils, although these products may not be as effective as insect repellent sprays and lotions.
Insect repellent clothing from brands such as Craghoppers Nosilife has repellent permanently bound to its material. Insect repellent shirts, trousers, shorts, hats and socks are ideal if you frequently spend time outdoors in areas with high populations of mozzies, especially if there is a risk of malaria.
Sleep Under a Mosquito Net
If you are staying in an area where there is a risk of malaria, sleep under a mosquito net. Insecticide-treated nets are significantly more effective than untreated nets. Different styles of mosquito nets are available, such as wedge, ridge, bell, box, cot and freestanding nets, and you can also get them for travel cots and pushchairs.
It is vital your net is hung correctly, has no holes in it and has a mesh count of at least 156 holes per square inch if you want to keep the mozzies out.
Install Insect Screens
Install window and door insect screens in your accommodation to allow the fresh air in and keep the bugs out. Make sure your screens are properly fitted and have no holes through which mosquitoes can enter - a fly screen with a hole in it is next to useless. Choose from retractable, hinged, sliding, curtain or magnetic fly screens, or even a DIY mesh fly screen secured with Velcro.
Use Air Conditioning
If your accommodation has air conditioning, use it. This eliminates the need to leave windows open and invite biting insects in. If there is no air conditioning, try placing freestanding electric fans near open windows. The air turbulence caused by the fans will help to keep mosquitoes out – the mozzies are not keen on air breezes or cool temperatures.
Permethrin insecticide spray is used to treat clothing, insect nets and camping equipment. Permethrin repels and kills mosquitoes that come near you, helping to prevent bites in areas with high mosquito populations.
Plug in mosquito repellents simply plug into the mains and release odourless insecticide vapours. A room spray such as PreVent natural pyrethrum spray can be used to clear your room of bloodthirsty bugs before bedtime.
Mayo Clinic: “Mosquito Bites: Prevention”.
National Travel Health Network and Centre: “Insect and Tick Bite Avoidance”.
NHS Choices: “Preventing Insect Bites”.