Buzz off

The great thing about camping is that you can customize your level of commitment so easily. Tents, trailers, camps, cabins, or cottages; it’s all about leaving the city to reconnect with nature. This Canada Day weekend, with a promise of sunshine (don’t jinx it! don’t jinx it!), I’m thinking tent FTW.

Packing is an art.
Packing is an art.

I’m all about the typical camping activities. I love hiking, swimming, campfires, and consuming my body weight in marshmallows (slightly charred, thank you very much). Unfortunately, there is one (significant) aspect of camping that is unavoidable and undeniably awful. This, of course, is the mosquito situation.

Some people seem to be able to deal with a few bites and continue enjoying another round of Sweet Caroline, but not this grizzly. I seem to be particularly allergic to mosquito bites and each nip grows to roughly three times the size of a bite on anyone else. Also, they’re itchy (news flash)!

In the past, I have eagerly doused myself with chemicals of the highest toxicity (mmmm DEET) to protect myself from the ungodly stings. Though, in my defense, I’m from Northern Ontario – home of the helicopter mosquito, whose single bite can drain a moose. So bird-sized bugs, combined with the regular threat of West Nile Virus, have allowed me to easily justify the use of harsh repellents.

Alas, I am committed to this Halitrax challenge. This weekend, I will replace my Muskol with some gentler options. I’ll camp armed with a bottle of Natrapel, a plant-based repellent. My very scientific research on the interwebs has revealed that essential oils, like tea tree and lavender, mixed with castor oil and aloe vera gel can also prove effective.

(this will not cure third degree burns)
(this will not cure third degree burns)
Essentially, these should work.
Essentially, these should work.
I added some lavender buds so if it's ineffective, at least it will be pretty.
I added some lavender buds so if it's ineffective, at least it will be pretty.

We shall see…

*So much trepidation.*

5 thoughts on “Buzz off

  1. You win this round, Krista. I definitely just packed my deet-filled bug-fear-sauce in with my camping gear before heading out into the wild. Maybe I’ll try some of your natural stuff, to see if it does the trick. I’ve also got some tea tree oil that I can bring along too. And while sometimes alcohol can fend off the obsessive compulsive mess I become when surrounded by mosquitoes, I can’t stay drunk ALL weekend… can I?

  2. How did it go? When I was a camp counselor in the back woods of New Brunswick I pretty much got a degree in bug bites. By the end I was like a zen master, not using any repellant at all, and gently brushing the little goobers off my arm instead of squishing them. Because life is precious, you know? Also, it freaked the kids out. But a tree planting friend told me that there’s a reason it got easier for me. Your body can’t continue to react so strongly forever to the bites. Eventually it becomes a tolerated substance, and you don’t get as itchy. You just need to reach a critical mass of bites, and then you’re home free.

  3. So, my verdict is that it works, but only to a point. It definitely helped during the milder “attacks,” but once peak mosquito dinner time came, I was the main dish. I think it would be fine for an afternoon outside if you’re just going for a hike or a picnic. I did need to layer on the deep woods DEET around dusk and over night. The major plus factor though was that, unlike with the toxic chemicals, I had no qualms about rubbing the aloe-based stuff on my face, neck, or around my ears.

  4. Hmm, that’s an interesting philosophy, Shauna. I’m just not sure I could tolerate the waiting for the no-itchems to kick in. They say that’s one of the hardest parts of tree planting – just learning to cope (or coexist) with the bugs. It’s just… not a challenge I feel compelled to take on.

    On a scale of 1 to 10, the bugs this weekend were like… 6 or 7? In your face all the time, but not severe biting. But I was covering myself in deet the whole weekend, and not showering for three days. Not a great option, really. Krista’s repellent seemed to work fairly well, but then I never had the guts to try it. Krista, I don’t blame you for switching to deet for “dinner time” – it was brutal. The bugs bit me through my pants.

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