A Florida tour guide’s top advice for fending off bug bites
By: Brie Bramblett
- Cover it Up
Your exposed skin looks as bright as the bioluminescence you came to see!
Cover your skin! I know it’s Florida, I know it’s hot, I know it’s humid. I know you’re on vacation (or at least pretending to be, even if only for the evening), and I know you’re dying to wear that cute tank top you just bought last weekend… but don’t. Please, I’m begging you, don’t!
Do yourself a massive favor and cover as much skin as possible. By doing this you stop looking like a sparkly exciting target and a little more like a tiny temporary landing space. Let’s also quickly go over what it actually means to cover your skin, because you can’t cover it with just any material and expect to not get bit! Unfortunately, mosquitoes can still bite through materials like nylon, spandex, and polyester. So that means all your favorite athletic gear won’t do you much good out there. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that includes yoga pants and moisture wicking tops.
Consider thicker materials that will create more of a barrier between you and those pesky little blood suckers. If you really have your heart set on a legging style, go with options that are brushed with something like fleece on the inside, they tend to be thicker and much more effective at protecting your legs – brushed leggings are my top choice for being comfortable and keeping bugs away when I lead tours!
2. Oil it Up
Florida locals do this all the time!
Lather up! One of the most effective ways to avoid mosquito bites may already be sitting in your medicine cabinet, any guess what it is? That’s right, baby oil.
Here at BK Adventure, many of our local guides swear by baby oil as their skin’s savior against the bugs! Personally, I’m not a big fan of feeling greasy, so I wasn’t exactly excited over the news that I could use baby oil to keep the bugs away. But it is the most effective way to keep the pesky no-see-ums at bay.
What? Haven’t heard of them, or seen-um? They are tiny flying insects that live near coastal areas, and they can be fierce biters. Use baby oil all over your skin, and underneath your clothes to keep them away. They bite through clothes!
3. Use Natural Repellant
Become one with nature!
Keeping on the topic of oils, let’s talk essential oils! It’s no doubt that essential oils have been taking the world by storm over the last few years as a natural alternative to many toxic products we use on a regular basis. And there’s nothing different about the bug repellent market. Many companies are releasing their own secret blends of essential oils to keep the bugs away, but do they actually work?
Every brand from OFF! and Repel seem to be showing off their own lines of natural bug sprays, and many brands that used to be the underdogs seem to be now flourishing with their non-toxic options. My personal go-to oil blend is doTERRA’s TerraShield, it comes in a pocket size spray bottle and smells absolutely divine! I use this on my face, neck, and ears to avoid any chemicals on those sensitive skin areas.
4. You Can’t Beat DEET
Old reliable saves the day to experience the best Florida adventure possible!
At times you just can’t fight what’s proven and tested, and in this case that’s deet bug spray. There’s been a lot of debate among researchers lately on whether deet is safe to use on our skin or not. Just when one comes out and says it’s dangerous, the next group just as quickly proves that it’s harmless.
All that aside, time and time again, DEET bug spray never seems to let us down on those particularly buggy nights. I never leave home without a can of high content deet spray, because it’s always my last resort when I’ve spent too much time on the water and can’t seem to keep the bugs off of me. A common tour guide problem is that many products seem to wash off quickly after we’ve been in and out of the water a few times, so this is when I whip out my aerosol can of DEET and spray away!
5. Layer it On
Enjoy every second of a day away on the water with no distractions!
I’ve saved my most treasured secret to avoiding bug bites for last, drum roll please! …Don’t depend on just one method to keep you safe from our buggy little friends, use them all together! Every night at home to get ready for my tours, I start by covering my whole body in a generous blanket of creamy baby oil. Then I layer on my brushed leggings, long sleeve top, water wicking t-shirt, hat, etc. From there I spray on my essential oil repellent, and save my deet spray for when I’m on site.
Sadly getting away bite-free is not always a simple fix, but with a little time and planning, it can be done!