Best Mosquito Remedy/Repellent

From experience, or from tale, what do you find to be the best way to keep the skeeters away while paddling?

Treat your clothes

– Last Updated: Feb-13-06 2:17 PM EST –

Mosquitos don't really bother me, and I live and play in the mosquito haven of the Texas Gulf Coast. Some people just have a body chemistry that they don't like, and I am one of them. It may be due to my eating a decent amount of garlic, which is purported by some to deter them. If you don't like eating garlic, maybe taking Garlique pills might help.

When I went to Africa, I didn't want to take any chances with malaria, so I treated all my clothes with 100% Deet. They will last several washings this way. This is fine for cotton clothes, but you should test synthetics on one small part before using, as DEET can melt some synthetic materials. I found supplex nylon clothes are fine.

I'm just not a fan of slathering yourself with deet, though sometimes at night it is necessary, and I find even down here Deep Woods Off is adequate. Citronella is worthless on Texas mosquitos.

There is lots of research on this.
And lots of myths. Look in the archives for previous discussions. But the only thing that really works is deet. The higher the concentration the longer it works. None of the other things (skin-so-soft, e.g.) work very well if at all. If you don’t believe this, Google around and read the studies. And you do not have to put deet on your skin. All you need is for it to disipate into the air where is confuses mosquitos so they cannot find you. It does not repel anything.

garlic does NOT keep away MoFos. Been there, done that. It DOES make for large volumes of smelly gas but 'skeeters don’t mind.

Deet ain’t all that works.

clothing. light nylon paddle or camp clothes work very well.

steve (from the Great PNW where MOFOsquito is the state bird)

Must be my natural musk that keeps
em away, then ;-). Yeah, I always wondered about the garlic myth. My wife eats as much as I do and they drive her to distraction.

when spraying deet
be careful around anything plastic.

i once had a friend spray the back of my head and when i reached around to see how wet he got it (not very, he did it right) i noticed that my plastic hair clip was sticky to the touch.

so be careful with things like sunglasses that may be hanging 'round your neck while applying the stuff.

It ate my sportswatch band and case
all up

latex drysuit seals

any waterproof coated material




varnish (guitar finish!)


deet is nasty stuff. one I loaned some expensive drybags to a boy scout troop and 2 bags came back with deet deterioration. an owwwie goooie mess.


Spray That Hat…
I have an old ball cap I use paddling and camping - a Chicago Cubs hat - that’s been blasted with DEET in one form or another at least a thousand times. Once you get a little sweat started, it seems to keep 'em at bay until they get so bad that you’ve gotta go to a net or go nuts.

Alaskan Moosekitos
When I worked for the railroad in Alaska we had homeseaders and trappers that would flag the train in the woods to get on board to go into town once in a while. One fellow in particular, who lived up on the Susitna River, made a pretty regular schedule of it. The one Tuesday that he didn’t flag the train the crew got a bit concerned and sent a section crew to go check on him. When the men got to the cabin they found no trapper. All they saw was an open door and lots of spent rifle shells on the floor. There were spots of blood everywhere and no sign of bear, such as claw marks or hair. They concluded that the only thing that could have happened was a small war. He lost and two Arctic Moosekitos carried him away…

My preference is also for DEET. In addition to mosquito control, I spray it on my gaiters to keep ticks from crawling up my legs.


Treat clothing and you
Treat your clothing with Permethrin (get it at REI and other outdoors stores) and treat yourself with DEET (also available at many places). Don’t get wet Permethrin on your skin, but once treated and dry, treated clothing lasts throughseveral washings. And as already stated, the stronger the DEET concentration, the longer it lasts. The exception to that is Sawyer’s time released DEET spray.

Hope that’s helpful.


Speaking of Repellants
What ever happened to that “good juice” we used in the Boy Scout days of the 50s and 60s as well as 'Nam? You stuff - it would even keep the “cottie-carriers” away. Where did 6-12 go?

Anyone try those…
new Thermacell do-hickies? While paddling it may not work much but while sitting in camp? Works off of butane. The repellant is heated up by the butane flame and gives you protection (supposedly) up to 12ft around you. They also have a bigger “lantern” type for camping areas. Never heard much about them. Just wondering if any one tried them?

Best Mosquito Remedies
We’ve been known to have a few mosquitos in Minnesota. Some things that work for me.

  • Paddle fast when on the water. Keep your pace above 3.5 mph and the skeeters don’t have a chance to keep up with you. Use good judgement on stops, your life may be in danger from the big swarming cloud behind you.
  • Paddle out away from shore where they lurk in ambush.
  • For good control in camp or on portages, always bring someone along who is more attractive to skeeters than you are. Feed this person bananas a few days before you head out. Just stay nearby your bug magnet and you will be fine.


I think they banned DDT

Natrapel (sp?)
I bought some of this last year for use around the Chesapeake, and found it worked well against the no-see-ums and skeeters. Didn’t have any green-head flies or ticks to test it upon though. It appears to require more applications than DEET, but it is not as obnoxious as DEET. The stuff I bought was labeled “Now with Something or Other Added!” - I forget what.


Bug shirt
and thats with an “r”. I got bug shirts for me and my wife for those trips through skeeter country. I think they are made by a company in Minnesota. They make bug proof pants as well - tight woven fabric which skeeter snouts can’t penetrate. The shirts have a hood and with mesh over the face - zippered so you can open to eat etc. protect your hands with gloves or deet.

How is it for temps in the high 90s and
relative humidity hovering in the 90s as well?

New Mosquito stuff
Picaridin has just been approved by Feds. Cutter sells it as “Cutter Advanced.” Supposedly as good as 20% deet. No odor, doesn’t screw up materials.