So here's the scenario. You are boom opping in the forest (or anywhere in the countryside for that matter) and in the middle of a really important shot, you feel the prick of a fine needle, and as you look you see a mosquito happily sucking away at your hand.

What do you do?

Obviously you have to grin an bear it and let it have it's fill!! There is no way you're going to ruin a shot because of a mozzy, plus it's guaranteed to have gone by the time someone asks what happened. I'm sure you don't want to endure a days worth of 'wimpy sound guy' jokes from the lighting crew!

But, anyway, my question is, has anyone found any lotions, potions, magic spells, hints or tips that help to keep the buggers away?

This time of year always brings out tonnes of the nasties and I don't want to end up as the main course.

7 Answers 7


I'm sure there are subspecies of insects worldwide that react differently to things, but I've A-B tested DEET repellents and natural repellents (herbal, catnip, citronella) here in California's Sierra Nevada. I hate DEET as a chemical, especially since one must be very careful about handling plastics with the high-concentration stuff...it can, has, and will melt soft plastics (such as Zoom H2's, Rycote windscreens, etc.).

For the mosquitoes here, nothing worked except 30%+ DEET. Nada, Zip. Frustrating, but those were the results. Remember that everyone's biochemistry is different, so your mileage may vary. But this was true for both me (normal attractant of bugs, I'd say) and my girlfriend (massive magnet for skeeters, for some unknown reason).

As many others have said, the other strategy is to cover up. This sucks because it'll often be hottest when the bugs are at their most swarmin'-est. Gloves are critical, and many companies make gloves just for sun protection, which are lighter and breathe better. But, covering up will prevent the need for DEET and sunscreen, as @VCProd very astutely points out, which IMO are good tradeoffs. If sweat in your eyes is a big problem, look into a rubber-gasketed Halo headband. They work very well, and are available in baseball cap styles too. Don't overlook the classic (and often ignored) mosquito headnets, too. Booming outside? Think like a hiker/backpacker.

  • Great info. I don't know what is is about the skeeters here in Estonian but they seem to be able to get through clothing and gloves, I was bitten the other day through quite a thick sports jacket. I would rather not but I think I need to look into chemical solutions! On a side note I use full finger cycling gloves for booming! They have padding in just the right place for holding a boom, makes life much more comfortable then doing longer shots. Plus, they are ventilated.
    – Si Charles
    May 18, 2011 at 16:21
  • I love social sound design.
    – Utopia
    May 18, 2011 at 17:03
  • Utopia, I agree it's great and gets very random at times.
    – Si Charles
    May 18, 2011 at 17:23
  • @Si Hah! Random? This is where it's at! Practicality and great ideas for sound designers and recordists. Doesn't get any better than this when we talk about the usefulness of fishing-pole and sweatband solutions!!!
    – Utopia
    May 18, 2011 at 20:21
  • I learned everything about answering questions on forums from theonion.com/articles/ask-a-navy-seal,12246. May 18, 2011 at 23:32

Seriously though, there's a product called OFF Deep Woods that you should carry with you at all times when shooting on location. It gives the longest protection without constant re-application (up to 2 hours). Eucalyptus oil is also effective and can be found at just about any pharmacy or health shop. Just test a small area on your skin first (for sensitivity) if you haven't used it before. WARNING:The smell tends to keep away more than just mosquitoes.

TIP 1: It is only necessary to apply any bug repellent to exposed skin, but ensure you get good coverage. Otherwise, those little buggers tend to hone in on the one area you missed.

TIP 2: Most bug repellents tend to irritate your eyes, so don't apply to your forehead area (in case of perspiration) and be careful not to wipe your eyes with your hands.


Skin So Soft! Works great on gnats, no-see-ums, skeeters, and black flies (and supposedly ticks). Horse owners slather that on their horses before rides as well. I also tend to drench whatever hat I'm wearing in a cocktail of citronella, OFF Deep Woods, and Skin So Soft. It stinks, but it makes me a beacon of do-not-touch.

Also, even though it may be hot out and uncomfortable, wear a hat, long pants, high boots, long sleeves, and full-finger gloves (I use Mechanics gloves), to avoid any bites there. Reduces chance of sunburn and bites, and can keep ticks from crawling where the sun don't shine.


Garlic and onions, and lots of them. Something about eating garlic and onions keeps them away... not completely, but it's noticeably less than normal.

Also, keep a ginger around (... except me, unless you're offering me a job), 'cause mosquitos tend to favor the fairer skinned, in my opinion.

  • lol that will keep the wife away as well! May 17, 2011 at 22:59
  • This is also effective with vampires. :-)
    – Utopia
    May 17, 2011 at 23:06
  • 1
    Vampires don't like gingers? May 17, 2011 at 23:40
  • @Roger Nope. This is why when I see one I run for the nearest sushi bar.
    – Utopia
    May 18, 2011 at 2:02
  • @Utopia Good one! I hear they're not too crazy about all those chopsticks either... May 18, 2011 at 16:23

Ha, I was dealing with exactly the same problem about a month ago, shooting all exteriors in the woods in SC. Luckily production provided a lot of bug repellent, besides that I just dealt with the heat of long sleeve shirts/long pants.


Another trick I learned a long time ago involves those fabric softener sheets for use in a clothes dryer. They work great for keeping bugs away. They work nearly as well as bug spray, and don't smell as bad. Stuff one under your hat, and it will usually keep the bastards away from your head.

  • Nice. I'll have to try that.
    – Si Charles
    May 18, 2011 at 12:02

I'm not much into chemicals, especially because I'm paranoid about the risk of damaging valuable equipment.

In my case (and I often go into extreme mosquito areas this time of year), the solution is thick protective clothing, wool jacket, work pants, leather gloves and a good hat with netting. The hardest part is psychologically overcome the feeling of helplessness as masses of them will swarm and land on you. But as long as no skin is exposed and you're well protected things should be fine.

Somewhere on here I asked about how to keep mosquitoes away from windscreens which is another common issue.

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