Every year brings new worries about tick- or mosquito-borne disease from Lyme to West Nile and Zika. “[Campers] are going into their habitat,” said Roger Moon, University of Minnesota retired entomologist. “We should anticipate it and protect ourselves.” Good defense includes:
• Dressing with loose, tight-weave light-colored clothing, preferably long pants and sleeves. If you can invest more, brands such as Buzz Off, Bugs Away and Insect Shield are treated with permethrin, a synthetic version of a chemical found in chrysanthemums. It lasts for about 70 washes and can repel flies, ticks and mosquitoes. You can also treat your own clothing, but do not use permethrin on your skin.
• Spray clothing, footwear and exposed skin with repellents containing at least 15 percent DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
• Campsite mosquito repellents (such as Thermacell lanterns) use butane cartridges to activate allethrin, another synthetic copy of natural repellents in chrysanthemum plants. These work best if there isn’t a breeze. The company also has smaller devices that clip onto backpacks for hikes.
• Avoid being outdoors at dusk when mosquito feasting hits its peak.
“The best repellent in the world is the one you’ll use,” said Joe Conlon, technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association.
Lisa Meyers McClintick