Last weekend, I took a road trip to Yosemite National Park, and spent two full days hiking and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Heavy rainfall in California over the past few months has caused the the many waterfalls in Yosemite to swell to a thunderous roar, refilled the lakes and streams after several years of drought, and brought greenery back to the dry landscapes.
However, there's one downside to all this moisture — it meant that the mosquitoes were out in droves. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to include DEET bug spray in my day pack on this trip, and despite attempts to avoid shaded stagnant water and cover my extremities, my skin is now spotted with dozens of itchy welts.
Lesson #1 is that chemical warfare is the easiest method for repelling mosquitoes, so don't make my mistake by leaving the bug spray at home. But what can you do if you find yourself in the position I was in, and need an alternative repellent to keep the pests at bay? David's Passage on YouTube has a simple DIY solution called the smudge pot or smudge fire, which David demonstrates in the video below:
The smudge pot mosquito repellent method uses a simple metal soup can, a coat hanger or wire, and dry punkwood from decomposing logs. By slowly burning the punkwood and allowing it to smolder, a thick blanket of smoke is created that can help deter mosquitoes. Studies have shown that some types of fragrant wood, such as eucalyptus or cedar, may work better than others. So, you may want to experiment with various types of punkwood found in your local forest to find the best variety.