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Essential Repellent

What you need to know to survive the battle of the bug

The West Coast’s winter was wet and soggy. The forecast for the spring and summer is lingering snowpack, muddy trails … and bugs. Lots of bugs

Hikers are a hearty bunch, occasionally discouraged but rarely deterred by mosquitoes, ticks, or swarms of biting flies—the pull of the trails is stronger than the annoyance. When the bugs become intolerable, the historical defense has been chemical warfare, with DEET as the primary weapon. For many hikers, the cure is worse than the disease, and they keep the nasty, plastic-melting DEET in its holster as long as possible.

But ignoring the bugs until they’re intolerable can ruin an otherwise enjoyable trip. And beyond putting a damper on the general mood, bug bites can have longer-lasting effects. Those with sensitive skin may have welts that last for weeks. Your kids might refuse to enjoy your next outdoor adventure. And, beyond those annoyances, bugs carry disease. While the risk from bugs is higher in other parts of the world—malaria and dengue, for instance—insects in the United States can also transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile or Zika

If you’re not fond of DEET, don’t worry. It’s not your only option to fend off the bugs. Sure, it’s proven to work and is a common go-to, but if you’d rather avoid it, there are effective alternatives. By combining chemical repellents with a system of clothing, you can enjoy the trails without getting carried away by the biting insects.

Interested in learning more? Find the complete article on the essential repellents, written by By Steve McClure.

LAST UPDATED

October 27, 2023

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Washington Trails Association

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Washington Trails Association is a nonprofit organization that protects and maintains our hiking trails.

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