Bugforce Scale

Bugforce Scale as proposed by Paul Wagner is an attempt to describe how annoying mosquitoes are from a qualitative perspective. An example of one of my level 9 experiences was descending into the basin holding Dick’s Lake. While walking down the trail I briefly stopped to get something out of my pack. In less than one minute I counting more than 100 mosquitos land on the parts of my body I could see. DEET didn’t prevent them from landing on me, but thankfully they couldn’t penetrate the Supplex clothing I was wearing or get my face because I was wearing a head net.

0 is Zero. Really. No mosquitoes or other biting bugs

  1. I think I may have seen one. But maybe it was a gnat.
  2. OK, I saw one, and heard one, but didn’t actually get bitten,
  3. Yeah, there were some in a few spots. Only the timid put on organic bug juice.
  4. Got a few bites, but I got more of them than they got of me.
  5. Time for DEET at dawn and dusk. Hiking, we just slapped and sped up.
  6. DEET while hiking. Headnets at dawn and dusk
  7. Pick your camp spots carefully, up on the ridge in the wind. Bites between hat and sunglasses–how do they get in there?
  8. Long sleeves and long pants, I don’t care how hot it is. Pray for wind.
  9. Headnets while hiking, or you’ll breathe in at least one bug per mile. DEET dissolves sunglasses
  10. Clouds of mosquitoes waiting on the trail and on the screen of the tent. Open warfare. DEET dissolves watchband, and it’s stainless steel.
  11. We made it out alive.
  12. They got Larry. RIP, Larry.

High Sierra Topix board uses a simpler mosquito rating system

  1. No mosquitoes or if there are some, but not biting yet
  2. Very light during the day, moderate at dawn and dusk
  3. Moderate during the day, heavy at dawn and dusk
  4. Heavy during the day, heavy at dawn and dusk
  5. Unbearable all day, no breaks, cannot eat outside of tent. If you stop, hundreds will descend on you; when looking thru a camera viewfinder, you see more skeeters than lake. If you slapped your arm, you’d smear blood from all the dead gorged bodies

Personally, I typically don’t use DEET, I used Picaridin which I found to be just as effective and it doesn’t damage materials or feel “weird” on my skin. I have tried a number of the “natural” repellents as well as the original “Skin so Soft”. I haven’t found them to be particularly effective.

Permethrin infused clothing can provide reasonable protection when the bug pressure is moderate, but I found it to be inadequate when the mosquitoes are out in force. Several companies sell clothing with permethrin pre-applied. You can self-apply Permethrin (it’s sold many places including at REI) or ship clothing to Insect Shield for professional application.

When I expect heavy bugs I typically wear tight weave clothing (Supplex Nylon) and a headnet rather than using chemicals.

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