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Episode 204: Dealing with Mosquitos while camping

| Updated Aug 8, 2018

Show Notes for Episode #204 Aug. 6, 2018 of Roadtreking – The RV Podcast:

It’s summertime, a great time to be outdoors. Except for one thing: Mosquitos. They can really ruin a day outside. In this week’s episode, we talk to the Centers for Disease Control’s top expert on mosquitos, Dr. Janet McAllister, on just what we can do to keep them from ruining a camping trip. We also ask her about ticks and an alarming new trend the CDC is noticing about these disease-carrying bugs. So stay tuned for our interview of the week.

Also, this week, lots of your questions, our answers, RV news, RV tips and much, much more.




Well, here we go. We are back on the road after a week’s respite at our sticks and bricks home in Michigan.


And I can’t wait! This is going to be a camping trip with two of our kids son, Jeff, and daughter Wendy, their spouses and four of our eight grandkids. We’re headed up to the sand dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline for several days of family camping.


Then, we leave Lake Michigan and start heading south, through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and eventually Florida. We hope to take in a couple of football games played by grandsons Matthew and Jacob and then grad some downtime along the Emerald Coast down around Destin Florida.


Speaking of downtime, just when are you planning to do that? Between the blog, the podcast, the newsletter, YouTube and social media, you’ve been working seven days a week now for years. You have never missed a podcast in 204 weeks! I know you love it and don’t consider it a job but that’s a lot of stress!


Good stress, but stress nonetheless. As all if our platforms have grown so has the workload. But, yes, I have a plan. I plan to take two whole weeks off… the last two weeks of December. That’s the plan.


But can you keep it? I think you can. I will help.


Hey, have you see our new T-Shirt designs on our RV Lifestyle Merch Store? We have a bunch of new designs for the T-shirts. I especially like the new Small House, Big Yard shirt. We have new ones coming for Serendipity Travel and lots of other concepts we talk about here. I love the new designs and we have lots of ideas of fun things we can add to the collection.


I can’t believe that summer is almost over. School has already started in some of the southern states, with more resuming classes each week. And Labor Day is just around the corner, signaling the unofficial end of summer. High School football – which we’ll be watching – starts the 17th. Those Friday Night Lights are about to shine again. Time just passes so fast, doesn’t it? On the positive side, with the kids back in school, that means it will be easier to find open campsites again.


Meanwhile, here’s the RV News of the week:


Man caught on video harassing Yellowstone bison alleged involved in slew of issues at several national parks 

Did you see the video of the guy caught harassing a bison at Yellowstone National Park last week? The video has gone viral, and as more information is known about this guy, it appears he was causing disturbances at a number of national parks.  At Grand Teton he was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. At Yellowstone he was involved in a traffic incident before he harassed the bison. Then at Glacier's Many Glacier Hotel he was apparently creating a disturbance when rangers caught and arrested him over the incident with the Yellowstone bison. He spent the weekend in jail. To read more click here or to watch click here.


Yosemite National Park may reopen today but fires continue to burn throughout California, elsewhere

Yosemite National Park is expected to reopen this week – if the smoke from nearby wildfires clears a bit so it is not dangerous to breathe. Some 17 large wildfires were burning throughout California last weekend causing President Trump to declare a state of emergency. Yosemite closed July 25 because of smoke and so firefighters could more easily battle a blaze on the park's edge near a grove of ancient sequoia trees. California's wildfires are blamed for seven deaths and are being fought by some 14,000 people coming from states throughout the country. (click here). Wildfires are also burning in Oregon where the National Guard was called in (click here) and in several other western states including Montana (click here).


Parasite linked to Minnesota campground, state's health department seeking help

The Minnesota Department of Health is asking anyone who visited the Shades of Sherwood Campground in Zumbrota last month to call them. An outbreak of a waterborne disease called cryptosporidiosis has been connected to people who visited the park in July. Cryptosporidiosis is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite, with symptoms that could include diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, weight loss and low grade fever. Some affected will require hospitalization. Health officials are interested in talking to anyone who stayed at the campground last month – even if no symptoms emerged. To read more click here.


Texas RV dealer says woman who is suing over ‘hopelessly flawed product' can't request a jury trial

A Texas judge is expected to decide soon whether a woman gave up her right to sue an RV dealer there whom she accuses of selling her a “hopelessly flawed product.” A story out of San Angelo details a lawsuit a woman filed against Funtown RV and Forest River Recreational Vehicle Company earlier this year after she said the RV she purchased from the dealer had more than 70 defects the warranty would not cover. But the RV dealer argued she waived her right to a jury trial when she signed her purchase document for the fifth wheel. To read more click here.


Storm rolls through, flooding only way in or out of North Carolina campground

Imagine being at a remote campground when a heavy rain storm comes in, washing out the only road in – or out. Apparently that is exactly what happened to those staying at the Real McCoy Family Campground in Statesville, North Carolina last week. Torrential rains hit the North Carolina area, washing out the gravel road but never damaging the campground itself. To read more click here or here.

This part of the program is brought to you by AllStays Pro, the best tool for RVers looking for places to camp, boondock or stay free overnight. Go to for more info.


A couple weeks ago Mike and I shared how Bo has become afraid of our Roadtrek. This is completely our fault. One too many times we failed to securely latch the refrigerator and things fell out as we drove, so now Bo has decided the safest place to be is on the front passenger seat with us.  This is not only uncomfortable for whomever is in the passenger seat – usually me – but it is also dangerous since Bo could  bump the gear shift lever, causing the vehicle to switch gears on the road.

Since we shared Bo's fear on this podcast, several of you have offered suggestions. Recently a friend named Dan asked if we had investigated getting a mesh net to block Bo out of the front seat. He said he had one for his car to keep his goldendoodle in the back when he drove.

So I went online to see if I could find something similar and found the  Wellbro Dog Car Backseat Barrier,  a padded and adjustable nylon pet barrier that serves as a vehicle dog fence with 2 Mesh Windows. It’s only about $14 on Amazon and measures 24” x 24” with adjustable strap clips. which covers the gap between the front two seats. The manufacturer says it fits most vehicles, like cars, SUVs and trucks.

Maybe it will work. We’re not sure.

Others have suggested we get an individual collapsible crate for him and secure that but with only a 22 inch center corridor down our Roadtrek and a 65 pound dog, we can’t find a crate that will fit.

Right now, we think the best solution for us is a safety belt combined with a vehicle safety harness that will keep Bo on the third seat, located right behind the front passenger and adjacent to the center sliding door. That would keep Bo off the floor and allow him to look out the window. So we have ordered them from a company called Mighty Dog. We reached out to them and they agreed to offer any of our listeners a 10% discount if they use the code RV.

It’s going to take some training and persuasion to convince Bo that is where he should sit but we’ll document it all with photos and videos and share the experience here.

Anyway, we’ll put links to all these possible solutions in the shownotes for this episode.

And by the way, we have a free ebook that is all about RV Travel with a Dog. You can download it free at

Meanwhile, as always, we welcome your suggestions and your tips. You can use the “Leave Voicemail” link at Just click it and then use the built-in microphone on your computer or mobile devise to record a message to me. You can do it over as many times as you want, until you are satisfied. And then you just click a button and it comes right to my email inbox.

I love hearing from you!

Jennifer's tip of the week is brought to you by RadPower Bikes ,an electric bike manufacturer offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping


Listener questions we answer this week:

  • How do you winterize a 2018 RS Adventurous RV?

Here’s a link to our video:

Here’s an even easier way:

Here’s a link to Roadtrek’s manual:

  • What is the brand of bedding we use on our RV bed?

We use a product called the RV Superbag. Here’s a video on how it works:

  • How do you learn more about your RV and, specifically, how do you check the oil in an Onan generator?         Here’s a blog post showing how:
  • How do you work the Highpointe Convection Oven/Microwave in an RV?

Here’s a link to the owner’s manual:

Here’s a link to our step-by-step RV convection oven cooking video:

This part of the podcast is sponsored by Steinbring Motorcoach, Roadtrek’s newest dealer and a third generation family business in Minnesota’s beautiful Chain of Lakes region built on quality motorhomes and excellent pricing and service.


It’s summertime, a great time to be outdoors. Except for one thing: Mosquitos. They can really ruin a day outside. In this week’s episode, we talk to the Centers for Disease Control’s top expert on mosquitos, Dr. Janet McAllister, on just what we can do to keep them from ruining a camping trip. We also ask her about ticks and an alarming new trend the CDC is noticing about these disease-carrying bugs.

Here’s a Video version of the podcast from our RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube:

Here’s a full transcript of the interview:

Mike Wendland:           Joining us now, from Fort Collins, Colorado, is Dr. Janet McAllister, from the Center for Disease Control. Thank you for making some time for us. We're talking about bugs and insects. Before we get into that, why don't you tell everybody, share a little bit about your background, and your specialty there at the CDC?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Okay. I'm a medical entomologist. I do research on mosquitoes. I look at ways to control mosquitoes. I also look at insecticide resistance.

Mike Wendland:           You're everybody's favorite person right now, 'cause we're all swatting mosquitoes. We're all having interesting times with mosquitoes. Would you start off, by giving us an idea of what we need to be worried about with mosquitoes? Now, we keep hearing about West Nile. We keep hearing about Zika. How big of a problems are those, nationwide? And, are there other problems about mosquitoes, besides the irritating bites these we but from them?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Yeah. West Nile virus is the most common virus, that is spread by mosquitoes in the United States. It has been found in the past, in all of the lower 48 states. We don't see it in Hawaii. We don't see it in Alaska. There are some other viruses that are, what's called endemic, in that they are found in the United States. Those would be La Crosse encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis. Those are pretty similar to West Nile virus, but they're not as commonly found in the US. Things like Zika virus, are not endemic in the United States. We will see Zika virus when it is introduced from other countries, but it's not circulating all the time in the US.

Mike Wendland:           I guess some of my other colleagues in the more traditional media, seem to jump all over every time West Nile virus is reported, or Zika virus is reported. But for the average person … and in our case, our audience, the average RVer, who are prowling all around the country … how worried do people have to really be, about this?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    For most people who might become infected with West Nile virus, they may not even know that they're infected. The disease itself, ranges in severity, from you don't know you have it, all the way through neurological damage, paralysis, and maybe even death.

But, the severe forms of West Nile virus … out of all the people who may be bitten by a mosquito, and become infected with the virus, maybe 1 in 150 of those people are really gonna become sick enough to go seek medical help, and to, maybe, have one of these severe outcomes. At least the severe disease that they cause, is pretty rare.

Mike Wendland:           Well, that's encouraging to hear. Now, that doesn't say that we aren't bugged … oh, horrible pun … I'm sure you've heard that before … that we aren't bothered a lot, by mosquitoes, and other flying insects. What are some of the simpler things that we can do? I did a video once, where I tried every gadget, and every claim that I could find on the internet, from Skin So Soft on your arms-

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Yeah.

Mike Wendland:           … to some electronic thing in a fan. None of them worked. So, from an expert, when we're out in a camp site, or we're outside, what are some of the things we can do to minimize the problem we have with mosquitoes?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Wearing mosquito repellent is one of the primary things that you can do, to prevent mosquito bites. You can also dress with long sleeves, and long pants on. If they don't have access to your skin, of course, they can't easily bite through most clothing. If it's something that's really light, and gauzy, then, they might be able to bite through that. Mosquito repellents are really the number one line of defense, for not being bitten by mosquitoes.

Mike Wendland:           In terms of the environment, campsites, tall grass, times of day … windy conditions … what are our best options, environmentally, to avoid being bothered by those biting mosquitoes?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Well, certainly, if there's a lot of vegetation around your campsite, like you mentioned, tall grass or bushes, some place that adult mosquitoes can find harborage in … those are going to be more likely to have mosquitoes in them, that would then come out and bite. So, more open areas, as far as vegetation. Also, people don't like to be bitten by any kind of mosquito, but, a lot of the mosquitoes that are going to bite you, are not actually the mosquito that's going to transmit some of these mosquito-borne diseases.

Mike Wendland:           I'm curious now. Are there different kinds of mosquitoes? I thought there was only one mosquito?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Yeah. Absolutely. People think that a mosquito, is a mosquito. Kind of like if you think about dogs … all dogs are dogs. They may be brown ones and black ones, and big ones, and little ones, and spotted ones, but they're all dogs. That's not the case. Mosquitoes are more like birds.

`People get that a hummingbird is a very different animal from a bald eagle. They eat different things. They do different things. Mosquitoes are the same way. While they all start their life in standing water, and end up as this flying pest, they eat different things, they prefer different types of water. The majority of the mosquito species, actually don't even feed on humans. There are some mosquitoes that are specialized, so that they only feed on frogs, which they certainly wouldn't be a problem for us.

Mike Wendland:           I always heard it was just the female mosquito that bit. Is that true? Or, is that one of the myth-

Dr. Janet McAllister::    That is true. She needs a blood meal to get enough protein, to develop eggs.

Mike Wendland:           Is there any benefit to a mosquito? I mean, do they do anything? People say snakes, for example, I know nobody likes snakes, most people don't, but snakes do good things in the … what about mosquitoes? Is there any function that they form out there, other than making us glad to go inside at night?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Well, they do serve as a source of food for other animals. They're not the sole source of food. There's not any particular animal that only eats mosquitoes, and if mosquitoes went away, that animal would suffer. But, they do serve as part of the food chain to us.

Mike Wendland:           The symptoms that somebody has, that should cause them to seek medical assistance … what are those symptoms?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Really, if you feel bad enough to go to the doctor … some of the symptoms are going to include high fever. You may have headaches. Occasionally, there could be a rash. I'm glancing over, 'cause I have a list of my symptoms, here. Body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea.

These viruses cause kind of a flu-like illness. Certainly, flu is associated with winter months. If you're having some sort of flu-like illness in the summer months, if they're severe enough, you should be going to the doctor, and trying to figure out what is causing those symptoms.

Mike Wendland:           The best time of day or night to avoid a mosquito. Then, sunshine versus cloudy days. Anything that we should know about them, if we want to minimize our exposure to getting bit by these vermins.

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Yes. The majority of mosquitoes feed, either at night, or right around dusk or dawn. There are some mosquitoes that will bite any time of day or night. Some of the more pesty mosquitoes, like the Aedes albopictus, or the Asian Tiger mosquito, will bite anytime day or night, but they really don't prefer to get out of the shade.

If they're in the bright sun, that's gonna be drying on them. That's going to be detrimental for them. So, they tend to not follow they out into bright sunny areas. Certainly on a cloudy day, they don't have that issue, so, they can hunt you during the day, as well.

Mike Wendland:           Did you say Asian Tiger mosquitoes?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Yes. Yes.

Mike Wendland:           That sounds like an invasive species. Is that a normal … I mean … just …

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Yes, it is an invasive species. It came into the United States, we think, through the used tire trade, and established itself back in 1986, and has been spreading since then throughout the southeast, and now, the eastern US.

Mike Wendland:           The other thing that we hear about, are ticks. It seems like we're having an epidemic, I hear, of ticks. We hear so much more about Lyme disease. I know, I don't think that's … is that your … that's not your specialty, or maybe it is, but we're talking mostly mosquitoes. I have to ask about the tick thing. Is that getting worse or better?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Yes. Ceratinly, ticks are very important. There are a lot more cases of tick-borne diseases, than there are of mosquito-borne diseases. We estimate, there's probably, on the order of 300,000 new cases a year, of Lyme disease. We have also found several new tick-borne diseases here, in the United States. They're pretty rare, but we're just starting to really, I think, scratch the surface on what's going on in ticks.

Mike Wendland:           Before we get off ticks, I know as we travel, I have seen more signs in places that say, “Ticks are now here.” It's almost like they're going into areas that were not much of a problem before. Is there any validity to that, or are we just hearing more about it?

Dr. Janet McAllister::    Yeah. Ticks seem to be expanding their ranges. We're starting to see some of the, for example, the main tick that transmits Lyme disease, it's range is expanding. It's expanding further to the west, to the south, and to the north. It seems to be moving. We don't know exactly why we're seeing more of the ticks.

Mike Wendland:           Well, you have certainly … I could go on all day here. You've got … listen, I wanna thank you for helping us get a grip on how big this problem is, how we can minimize it, and what we have to be worried about. Maybe, as we get more information about ticks and other things, we can have you back. I just want to thank you for making time, there, for us.

Dr. Janet McAllister, it's a been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you.

Dr. Janet McAllister::    And, it's been a pleasure talking with you. Again, thank you for inviting me, to talk with you.

The interview of the week is brought to you by, where every new or used Roadtrek motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country


By Andy Choi

Verizon Wireless

As we approach the final leg of our summer adventures, we continue to think about ways to make sure your children and grandchildren are ready for that first day of school. And this week, we take a look at gadgets for different age groups. By the way, it's estimated this year Americans will spend nearly $83 billion dollars before the welcome back school bell rings. And you want to make sure those investments are all age-appropriate.

So let's start with our youngsters, our little ones in grade school. Perhaps your child or grandchild is asking you, “Hey, am I ready for a smartphone yet?” If you feel like they're just not ready, consider a basic phone or a prepaid device. Think of this as a phone with “training wheels” without all the bells and whistles. Additionally the GizmoGadget by LG is a wearable that allows your child to call up to 10 contacts that you choose. Parents can also send short messages to that GizmoGadget and locate it on a map from their phone.

How about a little classroom tech for the middle schoolers? Especially for the ones who lose everything! Backpacks, keys, smartphones missing and the bus is pulling up right now? The Tile Mate Bluetooth tracker to the rescue! Attach these key-ring-size chips to any items you misplace regularly and track them via the Tile app. In addition, you can hit a button on the Tiles and find your phone as well. Honestly, you don't have to be a middle schooler to realize these Tiles can save all kinds of time!

And for our seasoned students, our high schoolers… Whether it's listening to music, podcasts, or making a phone call back home, a great set of headphones go a long way. And these days, truly wireless bluetooth headphones are head of the class! Check out the Jabra Elite 65t Wireless Earbuds. With up to 5 hours of battery life and a pocket–friendly charging case, these earbuds are ideal companions for our busy high schoolers.

So whether they're ready to work their times tables or their graphing calculators, make sure your students' back to school gadgets are ones they enjoy and utilize to the fullest.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by Verizon, which operates America’s most reliable wireless network, with more than 112 million retail connections nationwide.

When Verizon says better matters, they mean it.

Only Verizon ranked highest in  leading network studies, in multiple tests, year after year that measure Network quality performance in the United States by RootMetrics for the fifth consecutive testing period.

Can your network say that?

If you’re stuck on the wrong network, head over to Verizon and get unstuck.


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This part of the podcast is brought to you by Harvest Hosts, a membership site that provides truly unique overnight stops at wineries, farms and attractions. 


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Mike Wendland

Published on 2018-08-08

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

One Response to “Episode 204: Dealing with Mosquitos while camping”

November 24, 2018at10:58 pm, Ross Williams said:

The solution for both ticks and mosquitoes is permethrin on your clothes and either picaridin or deet on your skin.

Permethrin is used to treat your clothes. Maybe the mosquitoes in Colorado can’t bite through clothes, but the ones in Minnesota sure can. They easily bite through even heavy denim where it is stretched tight against the skin, like elbows and knees or across shoulder blades. Permethrin pretty much eliminates that problem. It is not really a repellent, its a “natural” insecticide that kills both mosquitoes and ticks. And once it has dried on the clothes you won’t know it is there, but it binds to the fabric and will stay effective through several washings.

Since ticks climb up once they get on you, if you stuff your pants in your socks and tuck in your shirt in your pants they will simply fall off before they can get at you if the clothes are treated with Permethrin. You can also spray permethrin on screens and around doors so mosquitoes don’t hang out around those openings and get in when you go in and out.

Deet is probably the most effective repellent for bare skin, but it smells awful and can permanently damage any plastic it comes in contact with. Picaridan is almost as effective, but it doesn’t smell and is not damaging. It is, however, more expensive and harder to find. You didn’t mention black flies, but picaridan is apparently more effective than deet against flies.

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