Mosquito, Flea, Tick Repellent at the Tailgate
In the movie Sweet Home Alabama, Kate Hennings, the mayor of New York, visits Melanie’s home in Alabama and she smacks a mosquito and then Melanie’s father tells her to be careful because she just killed the state bird of Alabama.
While the state bird of Alabama may actually be the Northern Flicker, of the woodpecker family, mosquitoes are a major problem and might as well be the real state bird.
For all Southern states.
And if you are anything like me, the mosquitoes just love to bite you. Find out how to stop mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks at your tailgate and your camp site with these tips and tricks.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for various products below. You get the same low prices and we earn a small commission.
Dangers of Mosquitoes and Ticks
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Americans that new tickborne diseases like Heartland virus are showing up in the continental United States, even as cases of Lyme disease and other established infections are growing. (paywall)
In 2016, there were over 96,000 insect-borne illnesses reported to the CDC. But that only includes the reported cases.
The number is actually much higher: There are estimated 300,000 Lyme disease infections every year with just about 10-15% being reported to the CDC. Lyme disease, spread by ticks, is a particularly nasty infection that results in painful joint problems and tiredness that may last months to years.
Meanwhile, mosquitoes can carry dangerous diseases like the Zika virus. Remember that one? Other diseases include malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and encephalitis.
Protect Yourself from Mosquito and Tick Borne Diseases
The best way to prevent the transmission of many of these diseases is through pesticides and mosquito control. But federal, state, and local agencies are all facing serious budget issues and mosquito/insect control often gets hit quickly during budget cuts. So we must look to solutions to protect ourselves.
When it comes time to tailgate or go camping, we need to find ways to keep the little bugs from attacking. And three citronella candles just don’t do the job.
I’m also quite tired of the sticky, oily mess that many of the mosquito repellent sprays leave behind. Or I forget to put any spray on until after I’ve gotten bit by a few mosquitoes. Of course, that defeats the purpose of having a spray.
In other words, I need a set it and forget it method. That’s going to be the most likely solution to preventing disease.
See Also: Prevent and Kill Fleas in Your RV
Mosquito Repellents That Take Power
One of my favorite gadgets has been an ultrasonic pest repellent.
I’ve talked about how it has been great to repel ants in the RV. These also do double duty to help repel mosquitoes too! And mice, roaches, fleas, and other pesky little things.
They are great for the small indoor areas if you have the generator or the inverter providing power. And they work best over a long period of time – not so much for the random weekend at the tailgate. The ultrasonic pest repellers also are not as good outdoors as they are indoors.
Thermacell Mosquito Repellent
A better solution for outdoors is a Thermacell repellent.
These run on a butane cartridge and four AA batteries, thus not requiring any power from your RV.
Thermacell is odor free and doesn’t require you to put anything on your skin. Unfortunately, I often forget to put these out before the mosquitoes get to me.
At least, when I do remember to put the Thermacell lanterns out, they double as a light source.
The Best Mosquito Repellent Solution for the Tailgate
This summer, I stumbled across a new-to-me product call Permethrin.
Permethrin is a mosquito and tick repellent that you spray on your gear instead of your skin.
In fact, Permethrin will break down on your skin in about 15 minutes so don’t waste your time spraying it on you!
On your gear, it is good for up to six washings. So on camping and tailgating gear, it should get you through a season no problem since you aren’t likely to wash it (maybe the odd rainstorm is it).
In addition to mosquitoes, Permethrin is also effective against fleas, ticks, chiggers, and some 55 other kinds of insects. It is the same active ingredient found in lice shampoo, so it is ok for use around humans and even cats and dogs.
Permethrin is one of the top recommendations from the CDC to prevent tick bites on people.
If Permethrin Works in the Low Country…
Since I found Permethrin during the summer, I had some time to test it out before tailgating season.
My parents live in the low country of South Carolina, in a very marshy area (their house is fine after Hurricane Irma!) full of mosquitoes.
In fact, this was the perfect testing ground for Permethrin to see if it would live up to the claims on the bottle. As you can imagine, the evening dog walks are just havens for our pesky little friends.
We sprayed down some fishing shirts that have now been relegated to dog walking shirts. When we sprayed, we paid particular attention to the collars and cuffs, area nearest the exposed skin when someone has the shirt on.
We sprayed the shirts down in the garage, not as well ventilated as it really should be when you spray down your gear. So we were concerned that the smell was going to be way too much. But by morning, after the shirts had dried, there was no smell!
Of course, the test came when it was time to walk the dogs. As you can see in the picture, the dog walking route is covered with live oaks and shady areas. A large marsh is about 100 feet from the street in some places, just on the other side of the houses on the right side of the street. So yep, mosquitoes are abundant. And seem like the size of your hand.
Fortunately, the shirts now sprayed with Permethrin did a great job of keeping mosquitoes off us!
See Also: Oak Plantation RV Campground
… Permethrin Will Work at the Tailgate
The weekend before the first tailgate, I took out all the tailgating chairs (yes, my favorites from Costco) and sprayed them all down with Permethrin.
I left them to dry overnight, even though it only takes a couple of hours. Mostly, I was just lazy after a day of working on RV stuff and didn’t want to take the time to put them all back up! I also sprayed the outdoor ottoman that I have to protect our feet from mosquitoes.
Now, when we setup the chairs under the RV awning, we have a circle of protection from mosquitoes!
And it sure has been nice these first couple of weeks of tailgating. Protection without having to remember to light candles or set out Thermacell lanterns.
See Also: Prevent Ants in the RV
Couple of Notes
Permethrin is toxic to bees and other beneficial insects, just as it is for annoying insects like mosquitoes. As such, I do recommend that you use it in moderation, on gear that you will use.
Also, Permethrin is deadly for many fish and other aquatic animals, so don’t dump any excess chemicals in the waterways!
The Future of a Lyme Disease Vaccine
I’ve been reading up lately on a new Lyme Disease Vaccine. How awesome would that be?
Back in 1999, LYMErix was introduced, but lasted only thee years on the market. In 2002, it was pulled because of low demand after a lawsuit was filed due to side effects, including arthritis.
A new vaccine is currently in development by Valneva, a French biotech company. According to Thomas Lignelbach, the president and CEO of Valneva, the new vaccine is made up of the six most common types of Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. This would make the vaccine effective for most cases of Lyme disease in both Europe and North America.
This new vaccine is currently in Stage II trials to determine optimum dosage levels. It will then need to undergo large scale Stage III trials, which would include 15,000 people or more.
If all goes well, a new vaccine could be available in four to five years.
Until then, the best bet is prevention!
Spray your outdoor clothes with Permethrin and do full-body checks to make sure no ticks made it through after you finish your outdoor activities.
Remove Ticks Promptly
If you see a tick, you want to make sure that you remove it from your body immediately!
After all, the tick won’t transmit the Borrelia bacteria unless it bites you. And it is likely that the tick needs to be attached to you for 24 to 36 hours to fully transmit enough bacteria to cause Lyme Disease.
The best way to remove ticks is the old-fashioned tweezer method. I highly recommend one of the special tick removal tweezers that are designed to get as close to the attachment point as possible. To use, first sanitize with rubbing alcohol and then grab the tick and pull up slowly until it is removed.
Tick Removal Keys are also good things to keep in hiking packs or attached to dog collars for on-the-go tick removal.
Many people have suggested peppermint oil as a way to get rid of ticks. This isn’t the best way, since you want to get the ticks off you as soon as possible and not wait for them to leave because they don’t like the oil.
However, it might be wise to shower with Peppermint Castile Soap before or after a hike. (Before for repellent and after to make sure you have all the ticks gone)
It’s also useful for washing the dog and making them smell better! Some have even been successful in getting rid of, or at least drastically reducing, the smell of skunks with the Peppermint Castile Soap.
And you and the dog can both smell like Christmas!
But don’t let a shower with peppermint wash stop you from doing a thorough full-body check for ticks after your hike. That’s still the best way to check for ticks and then you can properly remove them.
See Also: How to Remove RV Sewer Flies and Gnats
What Methods Do You Use to Repel Mosquitoes and Ticks?
Let us know what methods you have found to work best to repel mosquitoes and other pesky insects!
Comment below with your best mosquito, flea, and tick repellent methods!