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Mosquitoes in Lapland

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Introduction to mosquitoes

This page is about a small minority of the female mosquitoes that have a craving for blood. How they find you and how it is possible to survive them.

The hunter
These mosquitoes are like the galactic hunters in the "Predator" movies; to find their prey they use smell, carbon dioxide, heat, humidity and motion detection, and infrared light. After using it's other sensors to decide that something interesting is approaching, the mosquito start looking for heat and humidity. Mosquito repellents cloak the sensors to detect humidity, the final guiding device, and that is enough to make the mosquito miss its mark.

In most commercial repellents the working compound is something called DEET. According to warnings on the bottle you should be restrictive when using repellents containing it. Don`t use it too often, don't cover large parts of your body, and children should never use it. It may affect their reproduction chances due to DEET`s mutagene qualities and its nasty way of accumulating in the body. According to one Swedish medical recommendation, repellents with higher DEET concentration than 50% are toxic. If all this has scared you away from using products containing it, you could have a look at the manufacturer's home page, deet.com, and they will have the evidence to convince you of its splendid qualities.

Natural protection
To start with there are conditions that naturally reduce the number of mosquitoes.

• Rain
• Wind
• Short vegetation
• Far away from stagnant water
• Avoid being outside late in the evenings
• Smell
Humans have different individual smells and mosquitoes are more attracted to some of us.
• Altitude
When you get 900 meters and higher, the mosquitoes should be more or less gone.

Physical protection
• Long sleeves
• Thick clothes
• Gloves
• Mosquito hat or jacket

Nature based repellents
• Smoke
It need to be a real fire, the mosquito coils that can be hung from the belt will not do the trick. You have to be in the smoke. Mosquitoes will find every part of your body that is not. There are some disadvantages to this method though; everything you wear is going to have a smoky scent - which is not all that bad - and I doubt the healthiness of all the smoke you inhale while sitting in it.

Mosquitoe repellants

• Beckolja
I`m not sure what this could be in any other language, possibly pitch oil, but in Swedish it is called beckolja, a rest product when making pine oil. It smells like tar and some consider this to be the king of repellents. Others mix it 50/50 with something called jungle oil in Sweden to get an even stronger repellant in their opinion.

There are many repellents made of different plants from around the world claiming to be great when fighting mosquitoes, and there are equally many secret repellant recipes made of herbs and who knows what sold at fairs and thru home pages. I once tried a home made repellant with secret ingredients and it worked well. Below I present two potent plants that can be used by the aspiring home brewer. You could also try garlic and lemon balm, Melissa officinalis

Ledum palustre

Ledum palustre
Has a very strong and aromatic smell. You can take the leaves and rub them against your skin until the sap turns it green. As a side note, the leaves have a number of other useful applications too. For example it has a history of being used as a hallucinogen and aphrodisiac, and Labrador Tea is made of the leaves.

Achillea millefolium
This plant is used in the same way as Ledum palustre above. The salicylic acid in this plant has proved to be a good mosquito repellant. It is just as effective as DEET if used in the same concentration. Used as above you can expect it to work less than an hour. Achillea millefolium has a long history as a medicinal plant, and has been used to cure a large variety of affections.

Chemical repellents
There are a plethora of chemical repellents with varying mixes of different poisons, but like I wrote above, DEET is the choice of the day for many manufacturers. If you haven`t found anything else that work, a chemical repellant probably will. If possible, you should use the repellant on clothes, but if you necessarily have to put it on your skin try to be restrictive in its use. There are different varieties of mosquitoes in the world and all repellents will not work on every variety. If your favorite repellant doesn't seem to be working, try a local brand instead.

Miscellaneous gadgets
• Gas light with an electrified net around it. Could be pretty useless during the midnight sun, which also happens to be the main season for mosquitoes.
• Electric rackets. Fun, but not really a long-term solution.
• Radio transmitter with a specific frequency. Works great according to testimonials.

If you know that you will get severe allergic reactions from mosquito bites, consult your doctor before coming, and don't forget to bring with you medicine that have proven to work.

A final note
What ever technique you choose to use, don't expect the mosquitoes to disappear around you. They may not be able to suck your blood, which of course is an improvement, but you will be surrounded by a whining cloud of mosquitoes looking for an opening in your defense. Depending on what kind of person you are, it could be a small annoyance or a major source of irritation.

Note paper on the ground

"I'm going straight to the car. Can't take the mosquitoes. See you there."

A note left on the hiking trail between Kebnekaise and Nikkaluokta.


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