Are you getting eaten alive by the mosquitoes in Italy? This survival guide will help prepare you to combat those pesky critters, with many non-obvious methods and products to use that actually work.
The dreaded Italian Tiger Mosquito
So how do you get rid of Italian mosquitoes? There are many ways to help avoid mosquitoes; use specific types of spray, be smart with the type of clothes you wear, moderate the intake of certain food and drinks, and bug-proof the area effectively.
Lets dive right in!
The type of spray you use matters
Bug spray is one of those necessary evils in life. Nobody likes to spray funky smelling chemicals on their skin, but the fact is that sprays are the most effective way to avoid getting eaten alive by mosquitoes!
The key is to find one that has the right balance of effective ingredients and a natural smell. The active ingredients that tested the best and are proven to work are Picaridin, DEET, IR3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
When picking out a spray, concentration of these ingredients matter the most! According to studies, you want a concentration of at least 20% for Picaridin, DEET or IR3535, and 30% for Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus in order to be both effective and safe.
You don’t have to go crazy, just follow the directions for application and focus on your ankles, feet, lower legs and wrists. This is where your skin is the thinnest and mosquitoes love to bite.
In Italy, my favorite spray to use is Autan Tropical, pictured below. It works great, smells pretty good for a bug spray, and you can find it in any supermarket, pharmacy or Chinese shop. I recommend the supermarket over the pharmacy, as its always a few bucks cheaper.
Do”natural” repellents work?
It would be awesome if there was a completely natural essential oil you could use to ward off mosquitoes, but the fact is that none of them hold up to testing in laboratory conditions (Consumer Reports, 2018).
Common oils that claim work (but don’t) are citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, cinnamon, peppermint, and cedar. Sure, you’ll smell good but you’ll also have tons of bites. Stick with Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus for the “gentler” and least potentially harmful repellents.
The all-time champion of natural mosquito repellent is the humble oscillating fan. Useful indoors and out, a simple fan makes it so the little buggers can’t even get near you. Tests show it cut landings by 45-65%!
Avoid 2-in-1 sunscreen/bug repellents
Stay away from these. Sunscreen needs to be applied every few hours, bug spray does not. So either you won’t get the 20% minimum concentration to protect against mosquitoes, or you’ill be massively overexposing yourself by having to reapply every few hours. Just put on sunscreen first, then bug spray afterwards. Put the spray on your exposed skin, not underneath your clothes.
Wear light colored clothes
Mosquitoes love deep, dark colors, they are absolutely drawn to them! Try not to wear dark red, dark blue or black. Another thing to remember is not to spray on your clothes, just your skin. Its just a waste of spray and doesn’t keep them off of you.
Don’t drink beer (!?)
Ok, in the dog days of summer this one is easier said than done. The thing is, drinking beer somehow makes your blood more attractive to mosquitoes! Scientists don’t know why exactly, but when tested it holds up.
A few other things mosquitoes like but we can’t really control are when you have more bacteria on your skin, emit more C02 (running, etc), or people with type O blood.
So basically, take showers when you sweat a lot, try to relax and don’t overexert yourself, or just ask for bug spray at the restaurant!
Bug proof your life
When outside, I swear by the green spiral coils you can get for really cheap. Put one or two of them at opposing corners of the area everybody is hanging out in, and it keeps most of them at bay the whole night. In July and August, we don’t walk outside without them already lit and ready to go! When inside, wall diffusers are amazing. I put one by the front door and one in my room, but I suggest you unplug the thing right before you go to sleep to make it last longer.
You can get the brand Vape in any store, they have little replaceable liquid containers that last a few months.
The place you’re staying will likely have screens on the windows as well, which really help at night when you have the windows wide open.
Avoid the stuff that doesn’t work
There are lots of things out there that are a complete waste of money. I should know, because I’ve tried just about all of them!
In no specific order, here are the myths or outright scams that don’t work:
wristbands or plugins that make noise, citronella candles (don’t @ me, they’re terrible), eating or carrying around garlic, essential oils (ineffective after 20 minutes), vitamin B1 patches, bug zappers, and phone apps that supposedly keep them away.
If you don’t believe me and insist on trying one of these methods, do yourself a favor and buy an after bite stick along with it!