There are very few things that can ruin your outdoor experience more than mosquitos or other biting insects. If you happen to get stuck outside without insect repellant, you might wonder if covering your skin in mud will bring you some relief.
Mud only marginally prevents mosquito bites since mosquitos are not repelled by mud-covered skin. In fact, they are actually very good at finding thin spots in the mud, similar to how they are also able to bite through thin clothes.
Unfortunately, mud is often described as a good way to reduce the risk of mosquito bites in a survival situation. It’s no wonder you see people try this in survival TV shows. The truth is, covering your exposed skin in mud is often more trouble than it is worth. Let’s explore why this is and look at some viable alternatives for keeping away those itch-inducing little pests.
What About Covering Areas with Lots of Mosquitos?
In general, I would say it’s not the best idea. Mosquitos aren’t repelled by mud. It’s just that a thick enough layer can potentially make it harder for them to reach your skin.
But if you’ve ever seen a close-up photo of a mosquito, you’ve probably noticed that they have a needle-like appendage that they use to feed on your blood. This appendage(called a proboscis) is long and flexible and can find a weak spot even in a thick layer of mud.
Besides, let’s face it; no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to cover all of your exposed areas with a consistent layer of mud. It will drip down as you move and inevitably expose some of your skin. And mosquitos need just a little bit of your skin exposed to feed. So, in the end, you’ll likely be covered in mud and bitten by mosquitos at the same time.
Now, let’s look at a few better alternatives. Some may seem obvious, others not so much.
1. Think About What You Are Wearing
Choosing the right clothes can go a long way in making you safe from mosquitos. As I’ve said above, one of the problems with the mud method is that some of your skin will still be exposed. This is not a problem if you wear clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible.
- While you might want to wear a T-shirt on a hot summer day, if you want to be protected from mosquitos, then opt for long-sleeved shirts with a slightly thicker material, which will keep your arms covered.
- The same goes for your legs – opt for long pants that cover your legs, and ideally, tuck them into your boots. If you’re not wearing large boots, then tucking your pants into your socks can work as well.
- Similarly, tucking your shirt into your pants prevents your torso from being exposed. As you can probably tell, the goal is to cover as much of your skin as you realistically can.
Does the Color of Your Clothes Matter?
Another important factor to consider is the color of your clothes. While mosquitos have an array of senses, once they get close to you, they rely heavily on their vision.
However, their vision works a lot better against dark shapes. This means that wearing clothes of lighter colors can make it harder for them to see. As an added bonus, light clothes reflect sunlight better and can make you feel cooler on a hot tropical day.
2. Watch Where You Camp
While it may sometimes seem like mosquitos are everywhere, avoiding mosquito hotspots is a great way to keep yourself safe.
Most notably, mosquitos tend to breed in standing water. This means that most lakes and swamps will be teeming with them, and even your best precautions won’t help you from being bitten. So if it’s possible, try to camp away from pools of stagnant water.
Aside from large, natural pools of standing water, watch out for man-made ones. A small bucket of water that you left in your camp can quickly become a breeding spot for mosquitos, so be diligent and dispose of any stagnant water promptly.
If you absolutely want to visit a nearby lake, then still build your camp away from it so you’re not being swarmed by mosquitos all the time. And when you do go to the lake, a good idea is to go closer to midday, as mosquitos tend to be the most active closer to dawn and dusk.
3. Use a Mosquito Net to Get a Good Nights Sleep
Very often, you would get bitten at nighttime while you were asleep. To prevent that, using a mosquito net, like this one found on Amazon, is a great idea. If properly set up, it should keep all the bugs out and give you a chance to rest after a long day outside.
If You Don’t Have a Mosquito Net, Make One
Use whatever resource you have that might be able to cover you and/or your shelter. Have some extra clothes or a blanket? Cover the entrance to your shelter or wrap tight in it at night.
If you are in a primitive setting, you can weave together palm fronds or many other types of vegetation to act as a makeshift mosquito net or blanket. Putting as many layers between you and the mosquito is the key.
4. Try Using an Electric Fan
Of course, you won’t always be able to have electricity while you’re camping. But if you do, then a simple fan can help quite a bit. This is because mosquitos don’t fly all that well, so having your fan on can make it really hard for them to get close enough for a bite. The same is true for natural wind as well – so if the weather is windy, you will be naturally protected from mosquitos.
5. Use a Natural Repellent
There is a wide variety of natural repellents that you can use to get rid of mosquitos. Wood smoke can act as a mosquito repellent, but the research on that is mixed(suggesting that the effect is only temporary), but if you’re going to light a campfire anyway, then it can help keep mosquitos out.
Unlike wood smoke, citronella (a herbal mix of different species of lemongrass) smoke has been proven to be effective as a mosquito repellent. Usually, citronella comes in the form of candles that you have to light for them to give off a fragrance or oil that you apply to your skin. Note, however, that the effectiveness of citronella can vary considerably depending on the exact mixture used. Because of this, you shouldn’t rely on citronella unless you’ve already tested that your mixture works well.
There is also a wide variety of essential oils coming from different plants that can act as mosquito repellents. Aside from the aforementioned citronella oil, many people use eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, catnip, and basil oils. These oils could be mixed with water or other oils(like sunflower, coconut or soybean) to create a topical ointment that can be applied to any exposed skin.
Warning: Your skin might react adversely to those oils, so make sure to first apply a small amount to see if there are any negative reactions before proper use. It’s also worth pointing out that whilst these natural repellents are effective, they tend to evaporate rather quickly, so for the best protection, you’ll need to re-apply them every 2-3 hours.
6. Hang Fruit Above Your Shelter
This option will not eliminate the threat, but it may make your life a bit less miserable.
Insects love fruit, especially when it’s really ripe. Having bananas or some other type of fruit somewhere around your shelter can sometimes help redirect them from biting you.
So now you are hopefully better equipped to deal with the armies of winged vermin that have been a nuisance to mankind for the entirety of human history. Don’t forget that the key to survival is to be prepared.
At what temperature do mosquitos stop biting? Mosquitos go into hibernation at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). Since they are cold-blooded, they become most active at 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 celsius).
How long do mosquitos live? The life span of mosquitos is less than two months. Females can live up to two months, while males only usually last about two weeks at the longest.
Do mosquitos have teeth? Mosquitos do not have teeth. In fact, only females bite by using a long pointy mouth which is known as a proboscis. They use the serrated edge to break the skin and suck blood from the capillaries.
For more, check out 10 Best Places to Practice Bushcraft and Survival Skills.
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!