Known for bringing out extremes of all sorts, the tropics play host to several ferocious predators… (in Northern Queensland for example you can find taipans, which are highly venomous snakes, to crocodiles and drop bears!) But none of these deadly animals are much of a threat to fun loving backpackers. There is however one predator that loves to prey on helpless backpackers as they sun themselves and try to recover from the night before… this is of course the dreaded mosquito.
Knowing what a pest these bloodthirsty bugs can be however, I’d like to share a couple of tips on how to avoid these itchy, annoying mosquito bites.
1. The tropics. The clue is in the name of the area. It’s the tropics so make sure to use a bug repellant at all times when venturing outside. Just like sunscreen, bug repellant should be automatically applied in the morning and reapplied several times during the day. You can get heaps of different brands for all skin types and situations, although Australians swear by Bushmans. This is definitely a necessity so pick up a can of bug / mosquito repellant at the pharmacy. Make sure you get one with DEET as an ingredient but don’t apply it on broken skin and be sure to wash it off when you don’t need it.
2. Wear light coloured clothing. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors like blue and black. To avoid extra mosquito bites make sure to wear light colours like white and khaki. Not only will they help deter the mosquitoes but they will also help you feel cooler by reflecting sunlight.
3. Avoid heavy doses of perfumes and other floral scents. While everyone likes to smell nice, floral perfumes will attract more bugs than boys here in the tropics. Save the perfume for the clubs ladies. The scent of sunblock and mosquito repellant will just have to do during the day.
4. Drink lemon juice. There’s a reason why most insect repellants have a lemon scent and that’s because for some reason mosquitoes don’t like it! Adding a bit of lemon juice to your water can help you to avoid attracting mosquitoes.
5. Garlic A slightly smellier alternative to drinking lemon juice or using citronella scented candles or repellant is to rub garlic cloves on any exposed skin. This is obviously not a popular option for backpackers on the pull, although you will be one of the few backpackers not to have legs full of ugly, itchy mosquito bites!
6. The non-smelly alternative to garlic gloves. Take a Vitamin B-1 tablet regularly. Vitamin B-1 gives off an odour that we can’t detect, but it does repel mosquitoes, gnats and other biting insects.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember DON’T ITCH!!! If you do get mosquito bites, please try to resist the urge to scratch. Scratching will only make the mosquito bites itch more and make any bites look so much worse.
If you have been bitten by mosquitoes there are a couple of anti-itch sprays you can use, or even better, some bug repellants are medicated to also include an anti-itch ingredient. Don’t itch and the bite goes away quickly, itch and it will stick around longer.
If anyone has any other tips on how to avoid mosquito bites or how to repel mosquitoes please do add them below as myself and my friends in tropical Cairns will try anything as we’re still not decided on the best solution.