We’ve all seen the cutesy signs, we’ve all heard the cliche sayings, and some may even partially believe that mosquitoes are in fact the official ‘State Bird’ of Alaska. With 35 species of these blood-sucking creatures roaming The Last Frontier, the hum, the swelling bites, and the overall nuisance that these flying insects bring to our summertime adventures, worksites, and beds are one of the trade-offs for living and playing in this amazing place we call home. Some areas of Alaska fare worse than others. One particularly troublesome location can give you the ultimate buzz when you come across North Slope Alaska mosquitoes.
Humans and other creatures that find themselves prey to an estimated 17 trillion mosquitoes state-wide are fighting quite a war on this 663,300 square mile battlefield we call Alaska. Home to just under a million caribou and some of the best mosquito habitat around, Alaska’s North Slope, which encompasses a large portion of the Alaskan Arctic, is one of the worst places to battle these bugs. Let alone the mosquito bites themselves, everyone on the North Slope from oilfield workers to remote researchers must deal with the physical discomfort with the bugs buzzing in and around your eyes and ears along with the incessant hum coming from the sheer number of these in flight in a given area. Working as a maintenance technician in Prudhoe Bay, Jeremy Goff captured the video below showing some of the day-to-day challenges of summertime work when facing North Slope Alaska mosquitoes.
Studying everything from bird migration patterns, insect hatching rates, and overall climate change, remote researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks are often inundated with hordes of mosquitoes as well. Jesse Krause, recently working out of UAF’s Toolik Field Station captured several photos which paint a clear picture of what these researchers are up against in a daily battle to not only work, but to keep their wits about them while afield.
Your biggest hero in the war against these bugs is simply, the wind. A decent breeze could make paperwork a bit harder to deal with, and sometimes gets strong enough to blow other pieces of material and equipment around, but the trade off is more than welcome as mosquitoes don’t stand a chance in those conditions. If you find yourself staring down the barrel of a calm summer day, you should turn to head nets, long pants, long shirts, gloves, and when necessary utilize the ever-helpful Deet to ward off the pests in this environment. When dealing with these kinds of numbers, even utilizing tactics like tucking in your pant legs and cinching your cuffs to prevent the bugs from crawling up inside your clothing can become mandatory.
The next time you find yourself a bit perturbed by that single mosquito that you can’t seem to kill in your bedroom on a warm summer night, just be thankful you aren’t several hundred miles away battling the almost innumerable North Slope Alaska mosquitoes.
For your own mosquito protection:
For protection you can use a Head Net, or a Head Net with built in hat to keep the sun off your face and the net away from your body. For extreme situations you can use 100% Deet, though you will want to be careful what you spray it on as it can be corrosive to certain clothing and plastics. Although it doesn’t work as well if you are constantly moving, we are huge fans of the Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repeller when staying in the same spot for a period of time. You can get a Thermacell Holster with Clip to carry it around as well. Maybe you aren’t going to be facing the North Slope Alaska mosquitoes but still want some protection from them while hanging out around your campsite or on your deck at home. The Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller works great as well.
Check out our review of the Thermacell here: Thermacell Portable Mosquito Repellent Appliance Review