Today I want to share my secrets to get rid of bugging admirers in summer - also known as mosquitos and midgets. Some of these tips does also work for horseflies, like mosquito nets/jacket/hat and Siberian birchbark oil. Let me alos add, that even though these remedies are natural, they're still potent and some of them toxic. In other words don't put them on your sandwich. What kind of mosquito repellent do you use?
To begin with, these tiny vampires are everyday food for a lot of small birds. At home the swallows make incredible loops in order to get their dinner and the European pied flycatcher do somersaults from our fence when snatching them. Even bats eats a large amount of mosquitos and midgets.
To meditate over the roll of mosquitos in our ecosystem might not help when it's itching all over your body, but I think it's nice to keep in mind.
I have a mosquito jacket - and I love it, despite it's made of nylon. It's possible to put a net to cover your face as well. You can find these in stores for outdoors, fishing/hunting and similar. They're usually quiet cheap. I use mine at canoe trips, hikes, the evening stroll with my dog in June, when i work in the woods or other circumstances when I don't want to focus on smashing midgets. I need to wear a cap underneath though, in order to keep the net away from my face and also put mosquito repellent on my shoulders if they are bare underneath the jacket.
There's also mosquito hats - here Peikko is borrowing mine. He likes it as long as we're still in camp, but as soon we're moving he wants to get rid of it. I use it mostly when spontaneously foraging mushrooms.
Photografer: Alma Bågefalk
When sleeping outdoors you've got a few options. Either there's already a mosquito net attached to the tenet or hammock or you can attach your own - like my friend Jonas did on his tent Baker tent above. It was surprisingly sturdy, we only had to repair it two times during our 6 weeks long canoe trip in northern Finland.
Photografer: Mattias Persson
If you like it beter beneath a tarp or the heavens you can create your own net from a thin curtain. Simply sew a big bag, wide enough so that it fits your sleeping bag and you may turn around inside it. Tie some cordage in the cloth above your face and tie the other end to another cordage or branch above.
When it comes to homemade mosquito repellents I prefer Beckolja, or Siberian birchbark oil. Beckolja is a residual product when making tar and you can find it in outdoor stores or on the internet for horses, unless you're making your own tar. If you have a sensitive skin, it's a good idea to dilute Beckolja with rapeseed oil 1+4.
Siberian birchbark oil is the thin fluid that ends up on top of the birchbark tar. In the documentary Happy People they make this type of birchbark tar, if you haven't seen it yet, you should check it out! I'll write about the process of making your own birchbark tar in another post, don't want to squeeze it all in here.
You can use the birchbark tar itself as well, but i dilute it 1+5 with rapeseed oil and blends it with beeswax into a salve. The pros of the salve is that it won't leak as easily into your pack.
The only cons with all these tar remedies, would be the smell. It smells a lot of tar /smoke. I love it, but I guess it's not for everyone and maybe less suitable in an urban context.
There are solutions in the woods as well. Like Labrador tea or Bogs myrtle. In the photo above you see Labrador tea, with its characteristic slim, waxed leafs and white blossom. You'll find it by the edge of the mire and close to water.
I use to grab some leafs, crush them in my hand and rub onto my skin. it doesn't work so well for the midgets of Tiveden, I'm afraid, but it smells amazing!
It's important also to know that Labrador tea is poisonous. A little of it on your skin won't do you any harm, but you shouldn't make it an everyday habit and definitely don't eat it! There was an outrage on the internet in sweden, many years ago, when a swedish TV-star put a bunch of Labrador tea in a bottle of booze and claimed it to be bogs myrtle ...
Bogs myrtle is a bush that grows at the very shoreline. It's mostly famous as spice for brandy, but works as a mild mosquito repellent as well. Crush the leaves and rub it in.
I use to put a small bouquet of bogs myrtle in my tent and then all the bugs sleeps elsewhere. It smells nice too!
If you're already bitten and it itches, don't worry, there's salvation for you. Xcylocain salve from the pharmacy, or natural remedies like resin salve, aloe vera, mindfulness and smashed banana. If you, like me, gets very swollen from the midgets it might be a good idea to have some clarityn. It's for people allergic to pollen in the first place, but for me it's the only thing that do the trick when my face is twice its normal size.
Are you one of those who gets eaten whole as soon as you've stepped out your door? Or do the midgets not care for you? Do you have a recipe or trick I've missed? Please share on Instagram and mention @tracelessintiveden, so that we may take part of your experiences!
Buzz in peace!