THE ALASKA EXPERIENCE:

What You Need to Know About Mosquitoes in Alaska

Don’t fret, working in Alaska doesn’t mean you’re going to be assailed by trillions of buzzing bloodsuckers. Here’s what you need to know about mosquitoes in Alaska and how to avoid them.

  • Mosquitoes in Alaska are so plentiful—and large—they’re often jokingly referred to as the “Alaska State Bird.” The Last Frontier harbors 35 mosquito species, and a University of Alaska Fairbanks professor estimates more than 17 trillion mosquitoes hatch in Alaska every year!

    When are Mosquitoes Bad in Alaska?

    Mosquitoes are most prevalent in mid-June, around the week of June 20th, to the end of July and the beginning of August. When the winds are strong, most of our workers don’t notice many mosquitoes—even in dense mosquito areas like Denali.

    Where are Mosquitoes Bad in Alaska?

    Mosquitoes are common throughout most of Alaska, but areas that get more rain or snowmelt —particularly northern Alaska—are more prone to harbor mosquito swarms in the summer.

    You’re most likely going to encounter big mosquito populations in heavily wooded areas, near streams, lakes or stagnant bodies of water.

    Denali National Park is notorious for mosquitoes in the summer. Fortunately, large cities like Anchorage and Juneau don’t usually get pummeled with the buzzing pests, so you can enjoy your summer evenings off without smelling (and feeling) like DEET.

    How to Avoid Mosquitoes in Alaska

    At dawn and dusk, you’re likely going to encounter mosquitoes, especially if you’re working in Denali or smaller northern cities. There are several easy precautions to take if you want to avoid becoming a snack for dozens of nibbling pests.

    First, it matters what clothing you wear. Mosquitoes adore dark-colored clothes, especially deep blues. Loose synthetic clothing is also among a mosquito’s favorites because the fibers are easy to ignore while plunging into your arms or legs. Instead of ending your evening romp by looking like bumpy citrus fruit, Alaska Trekker recommends you follow this checklist:

    • Wear tight-weave long sleeve shirts and pants that are made from pure cotton
    • Wear khaki or neutral colors
    • Avoid using scented soaps, lotions, or shampoos
    • For areas with dense mosquito populations or day trips near stagnant water, consider wearing a head net to protect your face.
    • Always use bug repellent

    The Best Mosquito Repellant in Alaska

    The best Alaska mosquito repellant for adults is DEET — 20 percent concentration is the minimum useful potency, but you’ll be better protected with the strongest percentage your skin can handle.

    The trick to mosquito repellant is to apply the spray or ointment prior to walking outside. If you’re already being bitten, it’s too late.

    Alaska Trekker recommends applying DEET directly to difficult-to-cover areas, like your face, hair, neck, and hands. Afterward, spray your clothes vigorously.

    Do be careful about the type of clothing or material you spray with DEET! Depending on the potency, DEET can melt or burn some common clothing materials, backpacks, gun stocks, etc.

    Last, never use DEET with 90 percent potency or more on small children.

    If you prefer to avoid the harsh chemicals in DEET then use bug spray made with Picaridin. Picaridin is a synthetic compound that won’t damage fabrics, and it doesn’t have an obnoxious smell or oily sensation. However, Picaridin isn’t as effective at keeping Alaska mosquitos at bay.

    Do Alaska Mosquitoes Carry Diseases?

    Although mosquito bites can leave you with itchy and irritated skin, you’re not likely to contract any severe illnesses from mosquito bites in Alaska. Only two of the 35 species can transfer West Nile Virus. Malaria, dengue fever and Zika virus are also non-factors for Alaska mosquitoes.

    If you work in Alaska during the summer, encountering mosquitoes is inevitable. But with a few precautions, you can avoid the worst outcomes from run-ins with the unofficial state bird.

    Now that you know how to avoid Alaska’s buzzing pests, are you ready to work in Alaska? Take a look at our current job openings and start your next adventure!