How bad really are the mosquitoes in the Enchantment Lakes Basin?

Bottom line: Mosquitoes begin to bug thru hikers as the lake ice melts away, typically in June, and continue through August. They’re worst at lower elevations, such as Colchuck, Nada, and Snow Lakes.

If you’re day hiking through the Enchantments, you’ll want to be prepared for the bugs. Mosquitoes and black flies are the most pesky insects in the Enchantments.

Mosquito season in the Enchantments begins when open water is available for them to breed. Lakes begin to melt out in June most years.

By late August, the mosquito population typically has started to wane, especially at high elevations in the Core. And by mid September the mosquitoes are gone for the winter. I assume they move to Florida, IDK.

For current reports of bugs in the Enchantments, follow an online group like Enchantments Hiking & Backpacking on Facebook.

Insect repellant is one of my essentials to pack on the thru hike. But I gave up DEET years ago because of its potentially harmful health effects. Plus it’s hard on my outdoor gear. Oh, and the smell.

Instead, I use picaridin-based repellants to keep mosquitoes off me while hiking. Natrapel wipes are my favorite convenient method of applying repellant. I also have a small spray dispenser of liquid Sawyer Premium, which has 20% picaridin.

In heavy mosquito season, or when backpacking in summer, I also spray my clothes with permethrin. Sawyer sells a spray bottle big enough to treat a couple of sets of outdoor wear.

Permethrin is supposed to survive several trips through the washing machine before you have to reapply it. Personally, I can’t keep track of washes, so I reapply lightly to clean clothes for each trip.

Permethrin goes on your clothes and gear, not your skin. Be sure you’re using a permethrin product intended to be applied to fabrics you wear. Some permethrin sprays are only for use with farm animals or as household insecticides, so they contain petroleum products.

If you’re averse to chemicals, feel free to try any of the all-natural products out there. In that case (or in any case) take along an applicator of After Bite, Itch Away or similar reliever.

Some hikers completely avoid insect repellants and instead use mosquito net clothing items. Head nets are most popular. They can be a bit claustrophobic on a hot day, but they work 99% to prevent bites.

A friend and I tried battery-powered repellants that emit a high-pitched ultrasonic sound — and she discovered that they attracted bees. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t work for you.

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