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 around Dick’s Lake is Desolation Wilderness. 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
- I think I may have seen one. But maybe it was a gnat.
- OK, I saw one, and heard one, but didn’t actually get bitten,
- Yeah, there were some in a few spots. Only the timid put on organic bug juice.
- Got a few bites, but I got more of them than they got of me.
- Time for DEET at dawn and dusk. Hiking, we just slapped and sped up.
- DEET while hiking. Headnets at dawn and dusk
- Pick your camp spots carefully, up on the ridge in the wind. Bites between hat and sunglasses–how do they get in there?
- Long sleeves and long pants, I don’t care how hot it is. Pray for wind.
- Headnets while hiking, or you’ll breathe in at least one bug per mile. DEET dissolves sunglasses
- Clouds of mosquitoes waiting on the trail and on the screen of the tent. Open warfare. DEET dissolves watchband, and it’s stainless steel.
- We made it out alive.
- They got Larry. RIP, Larry.
High Sierra Topix board uses a simpler mosquito rating system
- No mosquitoes or if there are some, but not biting yet
- Very light during the day, moderate at dawn and dusk
- Moderate during the day, heavy at dawn and dusk
- Heavy during the day, heavy at dawn and dusk
- 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.