Mosquitoes in Alaska are the stuff of legend and perhaps nightmares. The carnivorous bugs are unofficially called Alaska’s state bird. There are 35 types of mosquito that inhabit Alaska and some are pretty big, up to two centimeters big. Mosquito season runs from mid-June through the end of July during which time they’ve been known to travel in hoards.
Alaska.org puts it this way, “While the legend is correct that mosquitoes can gather in ferocious swarms (the unofficial record of the most mosquitoes killed in a single swat is 78), the reality is that that kind of mosquito intensity occurs only in rare instances, such as on a perfectly windless evening near a stagnant pond, interior forest, or moist tundra.”
The good thing is (if there is a good thing about mosquitoes besides the fact that they make great food for hungry birds), most of Alaska’s mosquitoes don’t carry viruses like they do in the Lower 48. Only two types have been found to carry West Nile Virus. Still precautions are recommended for hikers and adventurists in Alaska or Ohio!
- Wear tight-weave cotton shirts and pants work better than more porous synthetics
- Wear khaki or neutral colors as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors
- Don’t use scented soaps, lotions, or shampoos
- If you’re taking a multi-day backpacking or float trip, bring a head net for backup
- Use repellent that contains DEET before the insects find you!
“Mosquitoes use exhaled carbon dioxide, body odors and temperature, and movement to home in on their victims” per the National Geographic website. If anyone would know about the bugs, it would be National Geographic photographers! Interestingly, humans are not first on the mosquito menu. They prefer horses, cattle and birds. The mosquito however is on the menu for bats, birds, dragonflies and frogs.
Visiting Alaska is worth the risk of a mosquito encounter especially because most places tourists visit are not ideal locations for mosquito hoards. Register to donate blood this summer and you will be automatically entered to win an Alaskan Adventure for Two! Visit GivingBlood.org for more information