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Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

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Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby richlong8 » Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:42 pm

I am planning trips for 2011, and I have been thinking about mosquitoes! They can sure impact a trip in a negative way. Anyone care to comment on where you think some of the consistently worst mosquito areas in the High Sierra would be? I would mention the Woods Lake basin to begin with. How does everyone plan for squitos? or do you? Anyone found anything better than 100% DEET to keep them off.
I kind of figure, if the snow has just melted from about the 10000' level, there will be mosquitoes for about a month, maybe longer. Many years, I think August is the best month to avoid mosquitoes in the High Sierra. Any one else have a better way to guess at this?


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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby rlown » Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:52 pm

100% DEET, pants, long sleeves, a skeeter hat, a shelter, and generally, August sucks for fishing so I aim at ice-out or mid-late Sept. I will add that the lil b'stds were biting me on my palms on the hike out last july. I don't like skeeters at ALL and try and avoid them in trip planning.
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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby texan » Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:51 pm

I always go on my annual trip to the Sierras in August because most of the mosquitoes are gone by then. I am a fisherman and the area I go to doesn't matter if you go early to late season the fish are always biting. Last year we went in the second week of August and since it was a wet year there were more mosquitoes than normal but the 100% DEET kept them away.

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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby richlong8 » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:24 pm

Thanks for the input, rlown and texan. I am not real good at guessing ice-out. I almost made it last year at Puppet Lake- I was about a week early. I go annually on a 5-12 day trip close to labor day weekend extending into September, and it rarely disappoints, but it is hard for me to wait until September. I like to get out of Bakersfield heat and pollution, and get up to the High country as soon as possible. but those squiters........

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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby balzaccom » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:54 pm

Either get there early, near ice-out, or wait a month for them to die down. We've had some luck by heading uphill early in the season, until we got to where it was cold enough that they weren't too bad.

But if you look on our website, you'll see photos of us wearing headnets...and that means BAD skeeters!
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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby rlown » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:10 pm

I'll add one tidbit. I went to my local military surplus shop, and they had Marine pants for 14.99. Windproof, fairly light, and fantastic as I'm not really a pants person. Double fabric on the knee and the butt. always good. Skeeters never got through those, and the price was right.
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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Feb 05, 2011 8:12 pm

Fairly consistently in years past, July was the month of mosquitoes, so we made many a trip before then or after. But with climate change these last few years, it has been harder and harder to predict. Even in the thick of m-season, dry areas and places in the wind are your best bet, and how close you are to the receding melt-line makes a big difference. Then again, two very similar places can be vastly different in bug-counts. Go figure.
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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby TehipiteTom » Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:53 pm

Mosquitoes...whatever. If they bite you, they bite you. Big deal.

On the North Slope, the mosquitoes are so thick that they will drain the blood from newborn caribou if there isn't a breeze to disperse them. Perspective.
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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby kpeter » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:50 pm

Predicting mosquitos and avoiding them seems to be more an art-form than a science. Here are a few of my recent experiences.

2009. A relative dry year. 3rd week of July at Blue Lake /Dingleberry (Sabrina watershed) Mosquitoes were so bad I cut the trip short. My children refused to come out of the tent for two days. We ran through one 4-ounce bottle of 100% deet every day just trying to function.

2010. A relative wet year.

I did a trip (west side) in the third week of June from Hetch Hetchy to Vernon and the Morraine ridge. Hit it immediately after the melt and encountered almost no mosquitoes at all. A glorious trip.

4th week of July we headed in from Agnews Meadows on a through hike to Tuolumne meadows. We encountered numerous people exiting the wilderness complaining about the worst mosquitoes they had ever experienced. But we encountered only light mosquitoes at Shadow, Ediza, Thousand Island. Lyell canyon got bad at dusk, and then there was a hard freeze on August 1 and mosquitoes vanished. There was a dramatic diminishment of mosquitoes from the 3rd to the 4th week of July in this eastside region, especially in those areas below 10000.

Figuring out elevation, the depth of the snowpack, the speed of the melt, and the length of the time from the end of the melt is complicated. It seems to me that mosquitoes reach their nastiness peak about 2-3 weeks after snowmelt and begin to diminish to tolerable levels about 5 weeks after snowmelt. So July is not necessarily a lost cause--depending on elevation and how warm May and June were--but given where I like to go the first 3 weeks of July are often very risky.

To me, the number one tool for avoiding mosquitoes is a water jug. Setting up camp in high, rocky, breezy, exposed sites well away from water can make a huge difference.
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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby maverick » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:38 pm

Hi Richard

There have been several previous skeeter posts in the past years about
avoidance techniques and there is a skeeter update which starts up around
June, where everyone chimes in on the level of infestation in the area they
just visited.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby sirlight » Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:59 pm

For me it's been rather hit and miss as far as the mosquitoes go. It seems to really depend on the area and what time of year. Of course the meadows usually are the worst. One year in on the TRT (Tahoe meadows), they were so bad that we skipped dinner that night and just crawled into the tents. The following morning the mesh was entirely covered with them. We broke camp in the morning and hit the trail, skipping breakfast. After 4 hours of hiking, we still could not find a clear area, so we just stopped and had something to eat while WE were being eaten.

Sometimes, there is nothing you can do, and DEET is not getting the job done either. best to hide in your tent in those conditions. Other times, a head net and deet on the skin, then permethrin on the clothes is enough.

Everything I have read is that 100% DEET is not any more effective than lesser concentrations, it just last longer. I have had good luck with ultrathon cream. It's only 35%, but lasts quite a long time. Still, I consider DEET a last resort and will avoid using it until absolutely needed.
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Re: Mosquitoes in the High Sierra

Postby texan » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:18 am

Everything I have read is that 100% DEET is not any more effective than lesser concentrations, it just last longer. I have had good luck with ultrathon cream. It's only 35%, but lasts quite a long time. Still, I consider DEET a last resort and will avoid using it until absolutely needed.[/quote]


I would have to disagree that 100% deet is not any more effective than lesser concentrations. I have used the REPEL DEET thats about 29 percent before and it did not work at ALL. I had to borrow the 100% stuff from my buddy to keep the sketters off. Also I have tried the suntan lotion with DEET and that was even worse. Its just my opinion.

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