Difficult Mosquito Nets
Difficult Mosquito Nets
Danyi Apeyeme, Togo West Africa
Saturday, April 21, 2007
A mosquito net is difficult and annoying to use.
If you have camped in a pup tent, then you many be able to empathize with people who are supposed to be using a mosquito net. There is just no way to get in and out of a one-man tent simply. To protect yourself from mosquitoes you need to unzip, jump inside, and re-zip the net very fast. Then suffocate from the heat.
Malaria or Paludisme
I was in Niger last year, I thought I had Malaria, on hindsight, I may have had Paludisme, I mean food poisoning.
The situation was this, I was very sick, I kept saying to the Niger people, what I thought was the word for Malaria; I said, Malaria, the people would agree or disagree with no problem. I realized later, I was saying Malaria, and nobody knew this word. I need to say, Paludisme the French African way of saying, Malaria.
There are some good sign boards about Puludisme in this area of Togo; the villages along the road to Adeta were promoting the fight against Puludisme. I am not sure; sleeping under a mosquito net is difficult, annoying and fraught with methodical and procedural flaws.
The goal is to not be bitten by mosquitoes.
This is an almost impossible goal to achieve.
I know one thing; I am not going to take Malaria pills for 75 percent of my life. I live in the Tropical Malaria - Puludisme areas of the planet at least 75 percent of the year.
I asked Michael the fixer,
- Do you use a mosquito net? -
- I like to sleep under a fan. -
I will cultural reinterpret this statement.
No, I do not sleep under a mosquito net, I know I am supposed to; I would like to sleep under a fan because the fan blows the mosquitoes off me. However, the truth is, I do not have a fan, and there is not electricity most or about half the time. Therefore, even though I know I am supposed to protect myself from Mosquitoes so I do not get Malaria or Puludisme, I just cannot be bothered. It is too hot, too difficult and I would rather just deal with them, rather than worry about Malaria. Plus, I am too cheap to buy one.
I can about count the number of times I have seen a person in Malaria prone areas sleep under mosquito nets. I see them in Tourist hotels; however, the normal population seems to avoid them. I guess on the Amazon River in places they used them a few times.
In Niger, they have this cool sleep outside bed set-up, which is more or less the Hausa bed, it has a mosquito net.
Still, the goal is to not be bitten by a mosquito, the goal is close to impossible.
- Unless you go into a mosquito net with a bottom, zip is shut, and start to sleep at about 5:00 or an hour before sunset.
A mosquito will bite through the bottom of a hammock.
They can find the small hole; I was looking at a mosquito net in the Turag area of Agadez, Niger one time. The net was over the short stick homes as was supposed to protect a baby. I could see rips in the net everywhere, a mosquito net is delicate, and it rips easy.
Truthfully, DDT is probably the answer. The real solution seems to be to install screens on the windows by professionals.
I was sort of thinking in Kpalime, I was in the L’Aurore hotel for one night; the place had very good screens on the windows. I entered the toilet and shower area and this small window above the toilet was just bars with No screen over the windows. Almost Africa.
I thought to myself, this is not going to work, so I closed to the toilet and hoped they had not already entered.
I was in the Bafana Bafana before that, and there were no screens on any of the windows. It took some work, but I put up my mosquito net and slept under a blanket. Sleeping under a mosquito net is like sleeping under a blanket; it almost successfully stops the breeze or fan, not completely, but close.
Why rooms do not have hooks on the walls for me to install a mosquito net? Ok, I am in this 2000 CFA room in the middle of nowhere, on the planet with Malaria. This funky little room has nails in the wall, I am wondering, was it for pictures or did someone, sometime actually set up a mosquito net? I always carry a mosquito net; I do not use Malaria pills, although setting up a Mosquito net in most rooms in is an Act of God, very difficult and complicated.
You can tell the serious people, they have a bed with four poles, and then you can hook a mosquito net on each of the four poles.
I was cracking up laughing at Mawuli in the Auberge Mandela. The room was sealed tight, a very good room, and the number 4 room I think. Well, I decided to extra kill off the fleas, ants and anything that moved. I closed the doors and windows, before I was going to start living there. I started to gas the place with the insect killer called Killit, the cost is about 1000 CFA.
I did not Almost Africa is, I was doing a German quality job. I was trying to kill everything in the room, I sprayed every crack, crevice and place a flea or mosquito, or my arch enemy ants could sleep.
Mawuli came and sticks his head in the room and sort of signs me to stop. I am thinking to myself, you are slow in the head, please take you vitamins.
I was at the toxic level of breathing and they were outside and he and this girl Essay could smell it, it was annoying them. I thought to myself, and wanted to holler.
- Stop being so lazy, move to the front and leave the courtyard. -
A little annoyance can bring Africa to a stop.
I did not stop, I used the whole can, and thought, I did not Almost Africa that, I did a German style job of killing.
I have this very long pull string on the bottom of my mosquito net. I pick up the four corners of the bed; place the mosquito net under the edges. I then can pull the draw string. As best I can tell, a normal lie on the edges type mosquito net does an almost job, but does not stop them. Then my next problem is to enter the bed, I need to loosen the drawstring, and then climb under it, annoying and difficult, but I do not like to be bitten, I am not so worried about Malaria, I just do not like to have mosquito welts on my body. I like to sleep peacefully.
In addition, it keeps the cockroaches from crawling over my bed and rats from defecating on me as I learned in Pak Bara, Thailand as they crawl in the rafter of my bungalows.
But, it is hot, difficult, and if I had a fan, that was full steam ahead, a good blow, I would maybe think about not using this net and go for the fan, but I know, that would almost work, but not really.
I like to ask people if they carry a mosquito net. The will buy the malaria pills, but are too lazy to carry the mosquito net, but it takes more thinking to set up a mosquito net than to toxic yourself with Malaria pills.
I am sort of musing now, I am thinking, how I can modify this net again so I can have a zipper opening, so I can climb in and out easy. It is possible; I just make a big pull string opening, as a door. I added these carabineer things to the corners the other day in the Bafana Bafana so I can take the long nylon cords off the corners so they are not tangled. I also use them cords for other jobs, like typing my bag on the bottom of my pack.
I have to admit, this mosquito net is getting better all the time, as I keep engineering in other ideas.
The big idea on that sign board is to buy the impregnated mosquito repellant versions of mosquito nets. Seems somewhat silly to me, but for why not, helps the Denmark people to sell mosquito nets to Ghana people who think they cannot make mosquito nets… Another story…
I want to make two modifications to my net. I want the top to be only the size of a single bed, however the bottom to be as big as double or regular bed. I also want to install this pull string type entrance. Buying good lightweight mosquito net is difficult to purchase, I think I need to go somewhere where they do not have a problem with Malaria… Hehehe
There are tons of tailor shops here, I sometime hope I am required to use this mosquito net for a few weeks. I would be more inclined to make the modification and not forget until the next time I am under this blanket.
It is cooler here at 757 meters or something like that, but not enough, it rained and then stopped.
I keep thinking, when I enter an expensive hotel and they have mosquito nets, I am worried. A much better system is to install screens on the windows, mosquito nets are uncomfortable and meant for cheap hotels.
I truthfully think they would do better to install screens on all the windows of the home here, probably would be as effective as trying to put nails in clay adobe walls, and expecting them to hold. The fundamental problem is the rooms, homes, and bed are designed wrong, the root problem is in the design of what is need to hang the mosquito net. Then the mosquito net, there is many adaptations needed before I am happy or through with this baby.
For those who pay a fortune for mosquito nets in a gear shops, they cost about 3 dollars in Thailand.
Mosquito Nets, Mosquito, Annoyances, West Africa Annoyances, Insects, Gear, West Africa Gear,Difficult Mosquito Nets
I was lucky when I travelled, my friend lent me his mosquito net he used in Zimbabwe. Was fairly lightweight and free!!
My first night in India, in Bombay, me and my friend wanted to use our mosquito nets, but could not concieve of how to do this... The room was so high we couldn't reach the ceiling even standing on the beds or chairs, and I am 6'2".
I figured we could maybe run a line across the room to tie onto, but i only had five meteres of chord... not enough. in the end I slept in a shirt and kept my sleepsack over me.
The only time i really used it was in Goa... we stayed in a shack on the beach, and I didn't want any bugs on me!
I discovered the best cure to major snags or holes in the mosquito net is to put duct tape on both sides of the hole. fixes it good. I don't travel without a little duct tape.
1. You absolutely need to soak mosquito netting in Permethrin to make it really effective. Permethrin is a chemical which is now synethetically produced but which is similar to what is produced naturally by chrysantheum plants. It acts as a nerve poison for small insects but is easily deactivated by the human liver/kidney (at least in the small quantities resulting from brushing against the mosquito netting at night or not washing your hands after soaking the netting) and so can be considered safe for humans (in small quantities--though NOT if a child drinks the whole bottle). This same chemical is used in flea/tick collars for dogs (but not cats, which don't metabolize the chemical as well as dogs/humans). Any mosquito/tick or a variety or other insects that brushes up against a net that has been soaked in permethrin will go into nerve spasms and die instantly. Thus the netting will remain effective even with small holes and you don't have to worry so much about carefully securing the bottom of the netting. Just drap the netting around the bed and the mosquito is sure to brush up against the netting on its way to bite you--and that is enough to kill it.
Permethrin can also be used to soak clothing so you don't have to wear DEET and other mosquito lotions during the day. The idea is that before a mosquito bites your arm or face, it is likely to land first on your shirt or hat--and if the shirt or hat is Permethrin treated, that will be enough to kill the mosquito. Permethrin soaked clothing/mosquito nets are mandatory for US soldiers in tropical areas (like Iraq). You can buy Permethrin at US outdoor shops. Get the Military soak style rather than the spray on style which is less effective. The Sawyer Military Style Treatment, for example, is sold for about $6 at rei.com. The treatment should last for about 6 months to a year for a mosquito net which is never washed (only a few weeks for clothing which is washed frequently, however).
2) Nylon mosquito netting will normally be stronger/durable than knit polyester, and both will normally be much stronger/durable than cotton. You will probably have to buy good nets in the US/Europe since the 3rd world tends to use el-cheapo cotton whereas nylon is a much more expensive fabric (polyester is in-between).
Avoid mono-filament polyester no-see-um netting if you are JUST trying to protect against mosquitos. No-see-um netting is for protection against gnats/midges/sand flies which are much smaller than mosquitoes. The holes in no-see-um netting are much smaller than the holes in mosquito netting, and hence block the breeze much more. Also, the mono-filament polyester used in no-see-um netting does not absorb Permethrin effectively.
3) If you treat a hammock with permethrin, then mosquitoes won't be able to bite through the bottom, since they will die as soon as they land on the hammock. If you sleep naked agaist the hammock, then your skin will tend to deactivate the permethrin, so you'll probably need to retreat every 2-3 months rather than just every 6-12 months as with a mosquito net. Also, since hammocks are large, you may need several bottles of treatment chemical to soak the whole thing effectively.
4. Permethrin treatment will last longer if you keep the fabric away from sunlight and oxygen. So if you carry a netting around but only use it occasionally, then I would recomment storing in a plastic bag when not in use.
"You absolutely need to soak mosquito netting in Permethrin"
This chemical sounds great, I do think the idea of repelling the mosquitoes from holes, or the edges is a goood idea.
I will go and buy some here in Togo, Africa.
No-see-ums is a big problem, I used repellant on my ankle often.
I wonder where there is chrysantheum plants?
I am in favor of treatment, however here in Africa, the cost is a huge problem.
However, they have not convinced the locals to use the nets. I think there is an essential obstacle that needs discovered. The locals do not buy the idea of Mosquito nets.
I do, I am lying under one now, it it is daytime, so I have it up. I am thinking seriously about buying some screen for the windows, that maybe I can tack up and take down. This room in Amlame, Togo has a wood frame and I could cover easy and cook.
The girl next to me, does not even use sheets, or Mosquito net, she is from Togo, the younger sister or the owner.
I only found two photos on your site of the mosquito net you use.
HoboTraveler Mosquito Net Photos
What does it look like when packed? I'm curious as to how compact yours is.
I'm going to buy one soon and am leaning towards getting the light free standing ones that you don't have to hang. Untreated.
>I'm going to buy one soon and am leaning towards getting the light free standing ones that you don't have to hang. Untreated.
A free standing bug-tent, such as the ones sold at rei.com is a good idea. Another possibility is a simple bug-bivy which only needs to be supported by a hook on the wall above the head. Since most beds rest with the head end against the wall, you can drive a nail above the head if needed. With the type of net shown in Andy's photos, you need an overhead support and that is going to be tough to find or create in most hotel rooms. The advantage of Andy's net is that it is much cooler because of all the space it creates.
Eric, why are you opposed to treating your net with Permethrin? This is what the UN recommends (that phrase "traite avec insecticide" in the UN sign is referring to permethrin), this is what the military requires and what everyone who has studied the subject recommends. Permethrin is the same chemical used in dog flea/tick collars, so if you've ever touched one of those, you've been exposed to it. It is also the same chemical found naturally in chrysanthemum plants. Long-term studies have shown the human body easily metabolizes and excretes this chemical if absorbed. And in any case, there is little chance of absorbing the chemical from a piece of netting. Even from clothing worn directly against the skin, the amount of chemical absorbed is negligible. I'm certainly not in the business of pushing Permethrin, but I have a feeling there is some knee-jerk fear of chemicals going on here. I say this because I felt the same way about the permethrin myself. It does stink something fearsome in the form it comes in the bottle. But now that I've used the chemical for a while and studied the subject more, I realize I was just being irrational.
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