There are numerous ways to avoid attack from mosquitoes. We can cover up with insect repellent or protective clothing – or buy high-tech (and high-cost) mosquito traps. But there is one well known, very “low tech,” method of keeping mosquitoes at bay: use mosquito netting.
The key principle of netting is simple: put a physical barrier between you and the mosquitoes. The mesh of the netting must be sufficiently small to keep out mosquitoes (and other small creatures), while still allowing fresh air in. Therefore, not just any material can serve as mosquito netting. Regardless of the manufacturer or type of fabric, you’ll find that the most effective mosquito netting has approximately 130-620 holes per square inch.
Most mosquito netting is made of polyester and reinforced with nylon seams, as these materials are sturdy and lightweight. What’s more, polyester has a low reaction to UV light, insuring that the material will be long lasting. When shopping for mosquito netting, be sure to purchase products that are flame retardant and have a high tensile strength (called “denier”).
Mosquito netting can be purchased in large sections (i.e., 10’ x 7’) or by the running yard (at 84” width). You can drape sections over a hammock or awning, or use several pieces to cover a gazebo or deck. Whatever your needs, mosquito netting is quite versatile and cost effective.
The most popular use of mosquito netting is as a bed canopy. After all, since mosquitoes are most active at night – when humans are least active – we are most vulnerable to mosquito attack while we sleep. Draping mosquito netting around a bed can add to a restful night’s sleep, providing protection from mosquitoes (and anything else that isn’t welcomed in your bed!).
You can make your own bed canopy by sewing together sections of mosquito netting and suspending it above your bed. If you have a permanent need for a bed net, you may want to incorporate it into the design of your bedroom. Beds with built-in “designer” canopies are ideally suited to the addition of mosquito netting.
There is little need for making your own canopy, however, as there are many attractive and low-cost bed nets commercially available. Choosing the one that’s right for you depends on your location and the size of your bed. Most nets come in a 1-point or 4-point style for hanging, i.e., the net is attached to the ceiling at one point over your bed (usually with a circular wire to help it expand) or at four points above the bed. Four-poster beds lend themselves readily to this style.
Many of us require bed netting only when traveling and, depending on the destination, finding a way to suspend the net over a sleeping site can become a challenge. With the right planning (i.e., take lots of string), a net can be suspended from a branch, rafters, or any number of secure locations. The key thing is to make sure the bed canopy is tucked securely under your mattress to make it sufficiently taut. Otherwise, the net may come in contact with your body during the night – which means the mosquitoes will have easy access to a meal.
While we all consider mosquitoes a pesky nuisance, under some situations a mosquito bite can be deadly. Depending on the location, some mosquitoes can carry diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and West Nile virus. For people living or traveling in areas where these diseases are a risk, extra precaution may be needed. The World Health Organization has issued guidelines that recommend the use of bed nets pretreated with insecticides, such as Permethrins. With this pretreatment, a bed net not only protects a sleeping person from insect bites, but it traps and kills the mosquitoes in the netting. Efforts are underway in parts of the developing world to distribute these insecticide-impregnated nets. Studies have shown that the nets are remarkably effective in reducing the incidence of mosquito-borne diseases. Although these nets are relatively inexpensive, the pretreatment remains effective for only six months. Thus, widespread campaigns require sufficient funds and vigilance to be truly successful.
Mosquito Netting Maintenance
Once you have a mosquito net, it is necessary to maintain it. Mosquitoes have an uncanny ability to find even the tiniest hole in a mosquito net. Therefore, you should check the netting often to make sure it is in good repair. If you are at home, you will have a number of things available to repair your net. A needle and thread can fix a hole in no time. In a pinch, you can even use tape or a stapler! If your mosquito experience is far from home, however, you should plan ahead. In fact, when your travels take you into the wild, you’ll want to be prepared for anything. So, along with your basic medical kit, be sure and take a repair kit to fix torn tents, lost buttons.