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Mosquito Repellent
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Joined: 24 Mar 2008
Posts: 23
Location: Tijeras, New Mexico Territory
Real Name: Daniel R. Bromley

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not PC - but when the little bastards are biting - out comes the Avon - "Skin So Soft" laugh as you will - it works and I use it. Strawstalker/NM/ now CO

Daniel R. Bromley, The Strawstalker New Mexico Territory
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Joined: 24 May 2007
Posts: 287
Location: Grand Portage, Minnesota
Real Name: Karl Koster

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 6:12 am    Post subject: Hmmm, Reply with quote

As stated earliar, knowing you will be bit and having accepting the bugs is improtant, just getting use to them. I wonder if some of these remedies mentioned aren't fooling the mind into this thought. Science has proven citronella/pennyroayl/garlic/skin-so-soft, vanilla etc.. do not work, yet many still swear by it.
I see two possibilities:
1.) they are masking physically what the body emits, basically carbon dioxide ( these things may be filling their pores, which is what smoke does and grease as in native use does)
2.) The scent of these things is masking the carbon dioxide

People get use to the environment, many times we trek in areas which are not like our natural environment, be it house or yard or work. Some days I do not notice bugs, but on those same days those from the city visiting up here complain about the infestation.

My Insect Article from years back:

“A most terrible-some problem…”
Mosquitoes, Ticks and Black flies in the North Country
Karl A. Koster

Those in the West may have to contend with big bears while those in the South have dangerous snakes. But here in the Great Northwest we have some of the most feared critters of all, mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks! Only one who has truly suffered can appreciate the following:

“We passed the night, around our fires. Prevented from falling asleep by the labour of brushing away the voracious hordes of mosquitoes, which unceasingly beset us with their stings, and poured forth their hateful and incessant buzzing in our ears. It certainly requires a different species of philosophy to withstand, undisturbed, the attacks of this ravenous insect. He who is inflicted, without complaining, by an unexpected change of fortune, or the death of a friend, may be thrown into a fit of restless impatience by the stings of a mosquito; and the traveler who is prepared to withstand the savage scalping knife, and the enraged bear, has nothing to oppose to the attacks of the enemy, which is too minute to be dreaded, and too numerous to be destroyed.” ~Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Minnesota, 1820 (Schoolcraft 270-71)

The word “mosquito” entered our vocabulary during the 16th Century. Derived from Latin, French, and Portuguese, it is akin to the word “musket”. Little fly, little bolt, or dart can be translated from the name. The terms “gnat” or “midge” were used in England to refer to mosquitoes and continue today.
Mosquitoes love swampy ground and breed in stagnant water. On any given day throughout the world, mosquitoes can number 100 trillion! The United States has roughly 170 separate species while Canada sports an additional 70 species (there are about 3,450 species world wide). If you were to invite every mosquito in the world into your tent for a night, you’d have to make room for a 551,155-pound guest! Perhaps, you are a voyageur and would like to fill your 90-pound pack with mosquitoes; it would take 16,329,325 mosquitoes!
A mosquito can live from two weeks to a month and can fly 2.5 mph. They find their victims by detecting body heat, moisture (sweat), and movement, or more exactingly, carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and natural skin oils. Good news, only female mosquitoes bite, thus there are only 50 trillion mosquitoes in this world that are about to leave their mark. The bumps left behind after a female bites you is merely a reaction to a protein contained in her spit. The spit delivers blood anticoagulants, which free the blood to flow through her “dagger”! Never fear, it would take 1,120,000 mosquito bites to drain an average adult of blood, provided they only take one millionth of a gallon per bite.
People from all around the world have developed ideas about these troublesome insects. Indians in British Columbia believe mosquitoes are ashes from the burning bodies of cannibals, while Rumanians feel mosquitoes were created from smoke of the devil’s pipe. Many also believe mosquitoes will bite worse before an impending storm, but science does not support this.
With such a prolific amount of mosquitoes and our inability to safely stop breathing, sweating, and moving while continuing to live, what is a person to do? It is said that one should wear white or drab colors, avoiding red or bright colors. Also be aware that dusk and dawn are prime feeding hours for mosquitoes. To stop the “itch”, try placing a hot (hotter the better) water compress on the bumps. The itching should intensify briefly, and then stop.
Dozens and dozens of quotes exist as proof of early travelers being plagued by mosquitoes. While in Minnesota, 1823, Stephen Long while wearing a “veil” (as a barrier from the bugs), “…found it necessary to keep a soldier constantly employed to brush away these troublesome insects.” During 1862, Lord Milton and Dr. Cheadle paddled towards Fort Garry through our own Minnesota. They awoke unhappily one morning to find Milton's arms blistered from paddling with bare arms, while Cheadle and another man, exhibited faces that were impossible to recognize. So changed were they by the swelling of bites. (McCook, 28) Here are a few more quotes to chew upon:

"…the special Canadian mosquitoes, with their cruel torment. I really believe the plagues of Egypt were not more agonizing.”
-Father Gabriel Marest, 1700 (Farmen, 9)

"But musketoes Bitt's [bite] with their sharpe bill in such a manner, that have their head Swell'd. as big as a tilterkin [presumably kilderkin, an 18-gallon cask], as to a man's not Seeing a mar'k he fires at for them is nothing, for on Coming out of the woods You may very well sweep a bushell of[f] one mans head;-Nay! Have been so thick we have been obliged to Shovel them away before we Cou'd gett in at the Doors.”
~Giles Isham, Hudson Bay, 1743 (McCook, 27)

"…mosquitoes by the millions, and woodticks…tormented almost to death by insects...annoyed us so that we took no supper.”
-Alexander Henry (younger), Portage La Prairie, 1802 (Henry, 212)

"Camped in an open plain where the musquitoes tormented us much & our horses more - Having tied mine I was not apprehensive that they would go off, & I told the others to do the same but they only tied some of them & left the rest at liberty - Not being able to sleep with the flies Some of us got uo, & lo! Eight of the horses were missing..."
~ Charles McKenzie, Upper Missouri River, 1806 (Wood & Theissen 296)

"…myriads of mosquitoes which appeared determined to extract the last drop of blood from my body. After battling with them until 4 o'clock next morning, my eyes almost blinded with their stings, I went in search of the horses.”
~Paul Kane, near Fort Garry, 1846 (McCook, 28)

"…we could neither speak nor breathe without our mouths being filled with them; close your eyes and you had fast half a dozen. Fires were lit all around, but of no avail.”
~Alexander Murray, Porcupine and Yukon River confluence, 1847 (McCook, 28)

Black flies
Black flies, also called buffalo or turkey gnats, are fierce biters who lay their larva in clear, moving water. There are more than 100 species of black flies in Minnesota and Canada. Black flies tend to peak in the spring and early summer.
Targeting necks, wrists, ankles, and beltlines they often leave a trail of blood with a swollen red area. Similar to mosquitoes it is the females who do the biting. Lucky for us they go to bed early and are afraid of the dark. Thus, making a dark area or “cave” in front of your head with a blanket will aid in keeping the black flies away. In contrary, you may wish to avoid dark colored clothing, especially blue and purple. On a positive note, remember swarms and bites of black flies indicate pure unpolluted water, something we all can appreciate.
The Minnesota/Wisconsin fur trader F. V. Malhiot, in 1804, describes black flies numbering in the "billions" and comments that they are literally "eating us up.” (Malhiot, 212) The death of 20,000 head of livestock was attributed to black flies in Eastern Europe in 1923. Even today, black flies can rob a healthy cow of a ½ pint of blood a day!
Horse flies and deer flies can also torment. Commonly, wet bodies attract horse flies and it is those darn deer flies with the straight-angled wings that buzz your head and get entangled in your hair. Biting gnats, midges, sand flies, punkies, and no-see-ums are the smallest of the pests we will encounter in our Minnesota woods. These pesky beasts often give you a burning sensation when biting and therefore have been given the name brulot (burn, hot, or scorch) by the early French-Canadians. Still have scorn for these little guys? Just remember, that down in the tropics it is a member of this family of burning pests that pollinate the cacao plants. Remember, no midges, means no chocolate!
Ticks are arachnids similar to spiders. Between hard and soft ticks there are about 800 species worldwide. Minnesota has primarily two types of ticks, Deer and Wood. Deer ticks, the primary carrier of Lyme disease, are about the size of a poppy seed, while Wood ticks tend to be larger and more common.
Like many insects the tick awaits movement, heat, or the smell of carbon dioxide to detect their unsuspecting host and hopefully catch a ride. Ticks can lie waiting for a host for up to 5 years without ever feeding! Ticks gather water from the air and only need to breathe 4 times per day! One researcher noted about the patient tick: “ Nothing’s on but the pilot light.”
To help detect ticks you may wish to wear light colored clothing. Carry a mirror and lend a hand to a partner in conducting a “tick-check.” You may wish to secure your leggings at the bottom and wrap your moccasins over them to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs. Ticks have a tendency to crawl “up”, which means piling your clothing in a pyramid after disrobing may bring those critters to the top of the pile. Avoid tall grasses and stay in the center of trails and pathways. The “acorn” theory may also prove helpful in calculating years with high tick populations, researchers have been playing with the idea that the more acorns in a season, the more food for the deer, thus resulting in a healthy deer population, which means an increase in Deer ticks.
There are about eight major tick-borne diseases, with Lyme disease being the most common. Early diagnosis and detection is the key treatment for all transmitted tick diseases. The disease causing bacterium isn’t fully transmitted from the tick to the host until it has been attached for more than 24 hours. Several new antibiotics and vaccinations are currently available. Minnesota is a high-risk tick area having more than 400 cases of Lyme disease reported during the year 2000.
So you’ve encountered a tick, what is the best way to remove it? Let us forget the proverbial favorites such as petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, and hot matches. These methods do not work and may cause the tick to regurgitate fluid back into you! The best method is the basic "tick-pick". Ticks secrete a bonding agent, which cements them to the host. This attachment can make removal a challenge. Pinch the tick as close to the skin as allows with a common tweezers and pull. You may wish to save the tick for future testing if you suspect that it may be a disease carrying tick.
Alexander Henry, the younger, in 1801, near Pembina Post speaks of ticks:

"Ever since April 25th we have been plagued with wood ticks…our clothes swarm with those troublesome and dangerous insects, which often get into the ear and cause inflammation…they cannot be removed without pulling the body from the head, which remains in the skin, and causes an itching that last for several months…they adhere to the flesh until they have sucked themselves full of blood and are swelled nearly to the size of a musket ball. Their natural size is about that of a grain of barley, and in shape thay are perfectly flatt, with a tough, hard skin, of a chestnut color. They continue to the end of July, when they suddenly disappear." (Henry/Coues, 180)

So What Works and What Doesn’t?
With $150 million spent in the United States and Canada on mosquito control per year, this is serious business. Old-time concoctions range from Cedar oil to vanilla and alcohol mixes to putting sulphur in your socks! Some folks swear by these, science does not. Early in this century Mosquito fish were used to eat mosquito-larvae out of ponds, but this fell out of use, when it was discovered native fish species were being shoved out of their habit. Then came the invasion of Purple Martins, which were claimed to eat mosquitoes. This was discontinued when the truth that this bird ate no more mosquitoes than other birds came to light. Having bats around hardly helps either as mosquitoes make up only 0.7 % of their diet. How about citronella candles, oil, or plants? Science has not proved that they are at all effective. The only proven answer is DEET (N, N-dethyl-3-meta-tolumide). Historic? Hardly, but effective in masking odor, thus it’s success.
The use of bear grease or skunk oil on whites, for the sole purpose of repelling insects has been extremely difficult to document. This plan works two ways: insects will get “hung up” in the applied grease; this is akin to modern laborers wearing a hard hat covered in petroleum jelly to catch annoying insects like gnats, that buzz around. And, a covering of grease over the skin helps mask what your body emits, thus what makes the insects find you in the first place. This may be a native only protective keep in mind. here are a few references of the practice being performed.

“To be in some measures secured against these insects, some besmear their face with butter or grease; for the gnats do not like to settle on greasy places.”
~ Peter Kalm, Canada, 1750-51, (Kalm, 326)

“Mosquitos are the most troublesome insects…To keep them off, it is often necessary to rub lard on the face, hands, and body; the insects sticks to the grease and dies instantly.”
~ French Soldier (J.C.B.), Canada, 1751-1761, (O’Neil, 27)

“They (particularly the Women) cover themselves with grease as a defence against ye Mousqueeto’s & other Flies…”
~ James M. Hadden, Canada, 1777, (O’Neil, 50)

“…and the oil [Bear](of which it yields several gallons) is useful to anoint their hair and to rub their bodies, in order to defend them from musketoes.”
~ Peter Grant, among the Sauteux, 1790-1806 (Masson 344)

Smudge fires of punk wood or green leaves was an extremely common, well documented, practice in the Great Lakes region.

“At night they lie in tents, if they can carry any with them; and make a great fire at the entrance, by the smoke of which the gnats are driven away.”
~Peter Kalm, Lower Canada, 1750-51, (Kalm, 326)

“To obtain a respite from their vexations we were obliged at carrying-places to make fires and stand in the smoke."
~ Alexander Henry (elder), Matawa River, 1761, (Henry, 16):

"Water extraordinarily high and continued storms, which breed an incredible number of mosquitoes; obliged to have large kettles constantly smoking in our boat to keep them away.”
~ Alexander Henry (younger), Pembina, 1805 (Henry, 281)

One unique problem in creating “smoke” was noted in The Columbia River, by Ross Cox:

“By {tobacco} smoking, we might keep them at a civil distance from our noses…but this was a preventive which, if constantly practiced, would have in short time reduced our tobacco to a small quantity.” (Cox, 230)

Smudges can have another drawback, as Alexander Henry (younger) states:

"…The women made a smudge inside, but to no purpose; it only made matters worse by choking us with the bitter smoke. If we covered our heads, we were suffocated with heat; if we remained uncovered, we were choked with smoke and mosquitoes. I therefore, thought best to get out of doors, but was then in danger of being trampled to death by the horses, which surrounded the cabins to enjoy the smudge." (Henry/Coues, 287)

Many unique defense devices have been worn over the years to keep the bugs at bay. The wearing of a piece of cheesecloth netting over your head may serve as a barrier to the bugs. This lightweight addition to your gear has become quite popular for re-enactors. John Long, in his travels around Lake Superior 1768-1788, mentioned the "horrid fleas in Trois Riviere". (Long,J., 7) He notes Native mothers having "…gauze thrown over the young savage to keep off the mosquitoes…" (Long,J., 79)
Samuel Hearne traveling in the Hudson Bay area in 1771 describes a "musketto wig.” The wig was made of woven oxen hair and worn over the head to protect one form the swarms of insects. (Speck, 88) This apparently did not always work as Hearne later mentions:

“…was wellcom'd by such a quantity of musketos…they fix their sting like great wasps that wee are nothings in the worls but knotts and bumps our flesh is." (Hearne, 82)

Alexander Henry (the younger) among the Mandan in 1806, tries a different approach: “…I had made a kind of mask of thin dressed caribou skin, to cover the head and face, and thus was more at ease than my companions, who could scarcely defend themselves…" (Henry/Coues, 285)

General Tips to Keep in Mind
Select dry areas to camp and avoid wet “breeding” areas. Moving water will favor black flies while standing water attracts mosquitoes. Camping on a high ridge may provide a helpful breeze. Many eastern natives built their summer villages on plains and meadows, taking advantage of an insect decreasing breeze. Often these areas were burned for the purpose of setting an open camp.
Properly cover your body. Pull down your shirtsleeves and wrap a scarf around your neck (a favorite insect spot it seems). Wrap your moccasin flaps over your leggings to keep out insects. Loose clothing may help to distance your tender flesh from biting bugs.
It is not normally the bite, but the noise of the mosquito that drives you nuts and keeps you awake. Plugging your ears can help gain a good night sleep. Using strips of material, tow, or even your own finger may prove successful in gaining respite. As the popular saying goes: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, you have never spent the night in a tent with a mosquito”.
Do not bathe a few days before a trek (some shampoos and soaps actually attract insects), this will help to build up a layer of grime and dried perspiration which may aid in cloaking your body from insects.
Finally…tolerance and proper attitude is the key to survival from mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks. You must be willing to accept your fate when entering the woods during "bug season." Some days it seems nothing else matters in this world than to get a respite from the bugs. It is written that bulldozer drivers working on the Alaskan highway found the summer insects worse than the bitter cold of winter. Many natives knew better, when questioned what their peoples did about the horrid bugs during the summer, most replied that they did not go into the woods if not necessary. Great advice for the next time one plans to enter the woods on a hot summer day.
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Joined: 26 Jan 2009
Posts: 125

Real Name: Wayne Musgrave

PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deet works well. :)
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Three Hawks

Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2009 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayne1967 wrote:
Deet works well. :)

Yup. Deet is the only thing that helps me. I've had arguments with the PC Goons over it. I won.

Three Hawks
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Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Southern Indiana
Real Name: Steve Preflatish

PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In addition to DEET, there is
Permethrin (highly regulated in some States) and
Picardin (found in some Cutter products)
All these have been proven to repel mosquitos and ticks.

"The frontier is occupied by a set of scoundrels who scarce know the Lord, and fear not the devil" --Richard Henderson
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Turning Bear

Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 12:18 am    Post subject: Lyme disease and triple E Reply with quote

My dad got Lyme disease a few years ago from just puttering around in his backyard..from a tick. A little permethin would have saved him a lot of suffering. Also with triple E and West Nile around.. well this is sort of like the water issue.... I may experiment with traditonal methods, but I'm relying on DEET and Permethin just Like I rely on Iodine and/or ceramic filters to keep out the giardia from water
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Francois Labiche

Joined: 16 May 2007
Posts: 164
Location: Western shore of the Mississippi below St Louis
Real Name: Al Puknat

PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Karl sure can write good stuff, n'est pas?
About the only thing which works for me is SMOKE, or getting in amonst a group of people (more bait for the bugs to share), or if neither is possible, hunkering down inside a bedroll. "Skeeters" is what makes summer my least liked season; but you learn to deal with them. As far as ticks go, sulfer powder works on my ankles, but frequent inspections of the rest of you is advised.

God put them little pests on earth to keep man from getting too uppity. :-)

Au revoir

Labiche -un amant de femmes et de cognac
"Toujours ramer vrai"
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Joined: 06 Jul 2011
Posts: 10
Location: Cape Canaveral, FL
Real Name: Matthew Lee Danison

PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:04 pm    Post subject: skeeters Reply with quote

Permethrin sprayed on all my clothing the night before my trip works very well. No more bites on elbows, shoulders, and knees! A deet soaked bandana around my neck or collar helps a bit. Or, if on a solo trek, I can wear the bandana under my hat and hanging down over my ears and over the back of my neck to keep 'em from buzzin' my ears and biting my neck. At night I leave my king size cotton sheet flat on my bedroll until I crawl in. Then, I pull a string thrown over a branch above me and attached to the sheet. This raises the sheet to form a low canopy to keep 'em away from my ears. This high thread count sheet, under a large tree, keeps a lot of rain off me, and is very lightweight. Some of the rain will "mist through" but here in Central Florida I won't freeze if I get wet. I tried ear plugs but the whine got through and I couldn't hear the sounds of the night forest.

"When you sleep in your cloak there's no lodging to pay." George Whyte-Melville "Boots and Saddles"
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Pathfinder Ted

Joined: 10 Dec 2007
Posts: 162
Location: Beautiful Tip of Michigans Thumb!
Real Name: Ted Jayson

PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Summer in the Cedar Swamp's of "Da Yoop" ARE NOT THE PLACE TO BE!!!!! That's the time to catch up on all the projects that need doin'!

The first tick during the early turkey season is my Que to head for the security of my shop!!! Early to mid October will find my lilly white,flatlander butt back in the stick's! Deepwood's off along with skin-so-soft work's pretty good IF I choose to hit a summer rendezvous. Health concern's trump's P/C everytime in my book,especialy as we age!

If you don't like the way the founding fathers formed this country,Thank God they insured you have the right to leave, NOTHING NEEDS CHANGING!
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Le Poilu

Real Name: Anonymous

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:01 am    Post subject: Bug dope Reply with quote

Nessmuk had a good bug dope recipe. It consisted of 3 parts Pine tar oil, 2 parts Castor oil & 1 part Pennyroyal oil.

Last edited by Le Poilu on Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:04 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Doug R.

Joined: 22 Mar 2010
Posts: 247
Location: Anchor Point, Alaska
Real Name: Doug Ruzicka

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mud, and covered skin (long sleeves, etc.).

Live Free or Die
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Joined: 24 Mar 2008
Posts: 23
Location: Tijeras, New Mexico Territory
Real Name: Daniel R. Bromley

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live in Grand Junction, Co. All of the old Cowboys and ranchers use either Watkins vanilla or Avon Skin So Soft. Both smell ok and work very well. Dan

Daniel R. Bromley, The Strawstalker New Mexico Territory
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Randy Hedden

Joined: 19 May 2007
Posts: 13
Location: Illinois
Real Name: Randy Hedden

PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 4:08 pm    Post subject: Mosquito Repellent Reply with quote

I have used catnip on many occasions to repel mosquitoes. You just crush several catnip leaves in your hand and then rub the leaves on any area of your body that needs protection. It works.

Tests done by a major university, (I don't remember which one), show that the essential oil from catnip has 10 times the repellant factor of 100% deet products. I know, I didn't believe it until I tried it.

Randy Hedden
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Joined: 14 Oct 2009
Posts: 257
Location: Arlington, VA
Real Name: Christopher Treichel

PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, you learn someting new everyday... And just think all them cats will love you too.

At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blew Tomorrow fresh Woods, and Pastures new
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Joined: 31 Jul 2009
Posts: 140

Real Name: eric armour

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2012 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These things attract skeeters:

Carbon Dioxide
You give off more carbon dioxide when you are hot or have been exercising. A burning candle or other fire is another source of carbon dioxide.

Lactic Acid
You release more lactic acid when you have been exercising or after eating certain foods (e.g., salty foods, high-potassium foods).

Floral or Fruity Fragrances
In addition to perfumes, hair products, and scented sunscreens, watch for the subtle floral fragrance from fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

Skin Temperature
The exact temperature depends on the type of mosquito. Many mosquitoes are attracted to the slightly cooler temperatures of the extremities.

If you are wet or sweat alot.

Here is a list of NATURAL repellants:

Citronella Oil
Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
Cinnamon Oil
Castor Oil
Rosemary Oil
Lemongrass Oil
Cedar Oil
Peppermint Oil
Clove Oil
Geranium Oil
Possibly Oils from Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Pine, Cajeput, Basil, Thyme, Allspice, Soybean, and Garlic
I also like to carry smudge stick/ sweet grass that you can get from Crazy Crow or a local Pow Wow.

Things that Lower Repellent Effectiveness

Many Sunscreens
Dilution from Rain, Perspiration, or Swimming
Absorption into the Skin
Evaporation from Wind or High Temperatures

Not real sure about ticks, so if anyones got any tips for those id be interested. Also keep in mind that anything unnatural scares game away!

Hope this is helpful...Eric
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