Battle of the Bugs
So when I came to Australia to begin my travels, I was worried about deadly spiders, venomous snakes and stinging jellyfish. Probably something to do with watching reruns of Australia’s Deadliest Animals, but it became apparent very quickly that these didn’t warrant my concern. It was mosquito’s that were the problem. As soon as the sun begins to set these little buggers will be out in force. There are lots of different ways to avoid them and repel them. Also, a few ways to treat the bite after you have fallen victim.
The main goal in the battle of the bugs is to not get bitten in the first place. Sounds impossible but there are a few things you can do to increase your chances. Obviously, certain areas are much worse than others. The tropical areas are a one to avoid if mosquitos are unbearable for you. Another time to watch out for them is during your farm work or fruit picking. Check our guide on compleating your farm work here. Mosquitos also don’t like the wind or rain, but neither do humans I guess. Use Mosquito nets when possible. Great for use on camper vans or tent camping. Other than avoiding them, try these hints and tips.
This is probably your first defence against the enemy. There are many different brands but whichever you choose, make sure you have DEET as the main ingredient. 20% and 40% deet is a good amount to look for. We used Bushman’s Insect Repellent which worked great and is widely used in Australia. Remember not to use deet on an open wound and to wash off after use. It can dry skin out too.
If you can get a decent dose of lemon juice into your diet, it will help with the mozzies. Just add some fresh lemon juice to a morning drink of water and ice. This is also known to have many health benefits and only tastes sour the first few times… I promise.
Take a simple B-1 vitamin tablet as part of your morning routine to decrease your mosquito appeal. The vitamin makes you give off a scent that humans cannot sense but is off-putting to a hungry mosquito.
The floral smell will attract more of the little nightmares than its worth. Even perfumed sunscreen won’t help the situation. Stick to the lovely scent of feet and lemons.
So now you’ve spotted the infamous red and swollen bump and its itching like crazy. The best thing is to use a specific antiseptic cream that treats the bite. These are available over the counter at chemists or supermarkets. Most important, DON’T SCRATCH IT. Scratching it will make the bite itch more and prolong the time you’re dealing with open a wound and scabs. However, if you are caught short, try some of these home remedies.
The thing that most backpackers will have is toothpaste. This won’t get rid of the bite but the menthol flavour will cool the area and distract you from the itch. It will also reduce the swelling attributed to the build up of fluid. Which is the reason bites look wet for days before scabbing.
This works much the same as the toothpaste. The menthol ingredients cause a cooling sensation that helps stop the itch. Vapour rub can be used also in this way.
Defiantly worth keeping in the first-aid kit. Can be used in many a manner of things including mosquito bites. It’s a natural antiseptic and has vitamins and minerals which help with the itching and swelling. Aloe vera gel or fresh from the plant, both work great. It is best to apply at a cool temperature. Just putting in the fridge for 15mins before use should work great.
Ice helps everything so whack a bag of frozen peas or ice pack on the bite. It will reduce the redness and stop the itching.
Erm, yeah, the X technique can give you short term relief. Just use your fingernail to press an X over the bite. Not too hard, don’t break the skin. This will take away the itch for the duration of the impression.
So that’s the rundown. You now have all the weapons to fight the mosquitos. I waited until it was too late to start using these techniques and I paid for that. After a substantial attack during the night and a rabid mosquito biting me in the apple orchid, I ended up with a lovely 14 bites on my legs. Of course, I scratched them all and suffered greatly. Take precautions and have the remedies ready because when they hit you, it’s not fun.
Good luck everyone.