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Surviving in Mosquito Country

Upper Peninsula
South Marquette trails

Marquette, MI – July 3rd, 2013 – Pockets stuffed with fabric softener sheets, my companions and I headed into the woods to do some U.P birding this morning.

“Fabric softener sheets?” you ask?

One word. Mosquitoes. They are the much-dreaded predator of the North, attacking in droves, whining in your ears, and leaving your skin pimpled with itchy rashes.

Giant U.P. mosquitoes aren’t fazed by a layer of clothing. And Deet products, while somewhat effective, leave that wretched chemical oil on your skin, hair, and clothes.

That toxic stuff is as human-repellant as it is mosquito repellent.

Which brings me to the fabric softener sheets.

The other day, a friend casually recommended them to repel mosquitoes, and I almost knocked her over in my excitement–but how could I not have known that already, if it’s true?

Facial representations of both our cynicism and our hope

The advice was to carry “Bounce” dryer sheets on your person into the woods or wherever you anticipate attacks, and the fresh and clean scent (or some unknown ingredient) will repel the pests and allow you to enjoy the outdoors.

I promise I felt skeptical, but I really–really–wanted it to work.

The first time I tested the hypothesis, I didn’t have Bounce, but I had a generic brand. I carried the whole box out with me into my yard where I’d just experienced an onslaught of bites. Stuffing the dryer sheets into my pockets, I continued to read my book, protected by the over-powering “fresh” scent.

And if you can believe it, there were NO mosquitoes! They disappeared for a long time.

I was texting my friend and feeling triumphant, when I felt the first bite. I brushed it off, hardly noticing, and continued my jubilation. I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal, for better or worse, and the mosquitoes were at least greatly diminished.

But this morning was different. I guess birding in the deep woods, you can’t expect the same results as sitting on a lawn.

Marquette, MI
Taking one for the team

As we listened to the gorgeous song-birds and peered at them through binoculars, appreciated lush plants and trees, pointed at the white-tail deer retreating from our path, mosquitoes swarmed brutally the whole time.

I was disappointed, to say the least. And very itchy.

It seems like a dryer sheet myth de-bunked, but I want to know what you think.

Does “Bounce” or any other brand keep away mosquitoes? Do you know any other secrets to staying itch-free in mosquito havens?

If you have thoughts or ideas, leave a comment below!


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