There has been a plethora of documentation about that pesky little creature—the mosquito. Anyone visiting Alaska should make an investment in higher educational sources to fully comprehend your odds of surviving these opportunistic predators. Unfortunately, this is not one of those articles—no science savvy or fancy vocabulary here! Instead I offer practical advice that will sustain your enjoyment of this great land, no matter what your outdoor goals may be (but don’t quote me!)
First of all, be assured that not everything about the Alaska mosquito is bad. Our brand of bugs does not carry malaria. Also, thus far there has no incidence of West Nile Virus—at least at the time of this writing, but don’t quote me. More good news: Should temperatures drop below 45 degrees F, these little critters will “go back in again” and you’re home free! However, bear in mind that longer days, beginning in April, accompany warmer temperatures and unless the thermostat rises above 86 degrees, you’ll probably be selected as a meal. But don’t overly despair, because there are many safe and effective man-made chemicals that effectively repel them, along with a few natural remedies. Too, there are stereotypical individuals that mosquitoes prefer. Keep company with those guys and it may prove advantageous for you.
The most popular chemical by far is DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), which is inexpensive and found everywhere you can buy stuff. It is safe and effective—all body parts should be thoroughly coated, inside and out. The best natural repellant is garlic. There is garlic oil, garlic spray, garlic gum, garlic mouthwash and, in a pinch, just plain ol’ garlic. All modes of garlic protection work…but don’t quote me. Another defense worth mentioning is citronella. Buy citronella candles, place them all about and don’t stray more than 3-4 feet. This may limit your “walkabout,” but that’s just the price you have to pay with this method.
No worries, there’s more good news! Scientific evidence has revealed that these selective critters choose several mammalian species over the human. Marston Bates, a prominent researcher at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska at Fairbanks, has published data that proves that mosquitoes will pass up a human for a bovine any time they can. Cows are the first choice, followed by goats, pigs and then humans. You can quote him. As already indicated, specific body types such as heavy people can cause a flurry of activity in this bug community primarily due to their excessive moisture production, both by sweating and heavy breathing. After all, carbon dioxide is the mosquito’s favorite “spice,” and therefore panting is their green light. Another “turn-on” is bad body odor. If you aren’t obsessed with cleanliness like most Americans and choose a more lax routine of bathing (say, once a fortnight or so), you’re in trouble. There are color preferences as well. These pests have a predilection for dark colors, particularly navy blue.
Sorry, but it’s now time to deal with the bad. Mosquitoes are aquatic animals and remain in or near water through all of their life cycle, except for the brief period of time when they mature to an adult. Still, water is their natural environment and induces their sticking around. Standing or slow-moving water is their kind of party and seeing as how 40 percent of all America’s water reserve lies in Alaska, odds of escaping the winged peril are not good. Once I heard some politicians saying how they were going to drain the state, but that could have been an issue relating to oil, money…or whatever. Anyway, don’t quote me.
Mosquitoes exhibit sexual behavior similar to humans. Only females go for the blood while the males seek sweet nectar from flowers. Bottom line here: While the girls do the aggressive thing, the boys are out steppin’ large and laughin’ easy. But, on the other hand, these little pests prefer men over women—and young men at that. Supposedly, they do not like children much. I once read about a baby human that was swarmed to death by arctic mosquitoes. Wait, maybe that was a baby caribou…but don’t quote me. Nevertheless, it’s a known fact that mosquitoes kill more humans than any other living creature on the planet. That right there is why Alaska has such a sparse population!
Concluding, it is the sincere desire of all Alaskans to minimize the devastating discomfort mosquitoes inflict. Perhaps this article can assuage your angst. After reviewing the facts, one can ascertain a dependable profile for success in Alaska when battling the dreaded bug. With all things considered, a thin, clean, dry, old Italian woman in a white dress leading a cow on a long rope, perhaps followed by a goat, would surely triumph. And as for my own opinion—all mosquitoes suck…and you can quote me on that!