Are the mosquitoes in Alaska bad?

Half-jokingly known as the Alaska state bird, mosquitos are a fact of summertime life in Alaska. With mild temperatures, regular precipitation, and many marshlands, lakes, and rivers, the environment is well-suited for these pesky insects. Fortunately, most guests travel where large swarms are rare. When mosquitoes do pop up, there are ways to fend them off.

Where and When Are There Mosquitoes in Alaska?

That image of swarming mosquitos is an accurate one, but more often in places that average Alaska visitors aren't likely to find themselves. Mosquitoes are most prevalent in the open tundra of Interior and Far North Alaska, densely forested woods, and bogs or marshes. Exceptions to this are some rivers and lakes where salmon fishing and fly-in bear viewing are popular.

In the more commonly traveled areas of Alaska, several environmental factors help keep mosquitoes at bay. First, there aren't mosquitoes all summer long. They're most prevalent after a hatch, with the mosquito population spiking late June through July, and again, briefly, at the beginning of August. They can't fly in a light breeze, so more blustery areas along coastlines and in the mountains can be relatively mosquito free. Mosquitoes aren't as active in rain. Although a drizzly day can come with its challenges, it also can bring some relief.

How to Keep Mosquitoes Away

No matter the destination or activity it's wise to pack mosquito repellant. Use repellant with a 15- to 30-percent concentration of DEET. A higher concentration does not mean that the repellant is stronger, but that it lasts longer. A 30 percent DEET repellant should protect you for eight to 10 hours. Follow these tips for safe application:

  • Apply the repellant directly to exposed skin, avoiding cuts or scrapes. Be careful around your eyes, nose, and ears.
  • Using more doesn't mean it will work better, so apply just enough to cover your skin.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after application and wash the skin you treated once you're out of the elements for the day.

In addition to repellent, it's also smart to wear long sleeves and pants. And if you're heading out for adventures off the beaten path, bring a mosquito head net just in case.

Alaska is unpredictable, and while its natural beauty is simply stunning, it also comes with its challenges. Taking care that you're equipped for the conditions will make your Alaskan experience that much more enjoyable.