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Thread: How did the American Indians deal with mosquitos?

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by texasboy View Post
    I heard mosquitos are attracted to salt. May be the Indians didn't have to worry because they didn't have salt.
    ?????????????????

  2. #22
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    Indians used a medical plant called Golden Seal. It is very bitter.

    Goldenseal:
    The Cherokee pounded the large rootstock with bear fat and smeared it on their bodies as an insect repellent. It was also used as a tonic, stimulant, and astringent.

    http://www.powersource.com/cherokee/herbal.html

  3. #23
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    The above post, makes sense because plants evolve and develop chemical properties to ward off insects or there wouldnot be any plants left. The bugs would eat them all.

    Bug SD humans can borrow.

  4. #24
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    We live in what was the "Great Black Swamp" in northwestern Ohio and I have been told that in the past the mosquitoes could carry you away. The Indians are said to have avoided the area and circumvented it in their travels. The early pioneers were said to be a miserable lot and has "smudge pots" on the fire all the time.

  5. #25
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    In some geographies, they weren't as bad when the Indians were prevalent. From talking to the old timers I knew 15 years ago, the southern woods were much more open due to a natural fire progression. Hardwood succession due to a lack of fire and fragmenting of the landbase (road infrastructure, poor drainage, etc.) has created a better habitat for the boogers. In addition, less habitat for their predators. So that maybe some of it in some areas.

    Other than that, they were better adapted mentally (as previously mentioned), didn't use perfume soaps, or wash thier natural oils off as frequently, and probably had a diet that may have been condusive to being less attractive.

    In addition, there are natural insect replellents they used; southern bayberry, paw paw, bracken fern, and cedar are the ones I know offhand.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quiet Bear View Post
    In addition, there are natural insect replellents they used; southern bayberry, paw paw, bracken fern, and cedar are the ones I know offhand.
    Hey Quiet Bear, can you expand on the use of Bracken Fern?

    Doc

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Linton View Post
    I noticed this weekend that they swarmed around the propane stove when t was on -- left when it was turned off. (They were much worse ni daylight! Little, fast buggers with prominent black stripes abound the thorax.)
    .
    I recall reading that mosquitos are attracted to carbon dioxide. It allows them to find a prey animal by detecting the higher level of CO2 in your exhaled breath. A flame produces CO2.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by resinguy View Post
    I recall reading that mosquitos are attracted to carbon dioxide. It allows them to find a prey animal by detecting the higher level of CO2 in your exhaled breath. A flame produces CO2.
    Yup. That was the observation that ejes posted on 9/8. I was just seconding with recent experience.

  9. #29
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    When I camp out in Indonesia I just burn coconut husks to repel the vulture like mosquitoes in the jungles there, It’s the same thing that the natives do

  10. #30
    "Bounce" brand dryer sheets. Lace one half way through a belt loop and you are good to go. Cheap, works, and when it's done, toss it in the trash. Bob

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Siegle View Post
    I have read that in the Northeast, they used bear grease for bug protection. The book also mentioned that the practice is probably one of the main reasons natives were though to be "dirty" from the rancid smell.
    Quote Originally Posted by Quiet Bear View Post
    Other than that, they were better adapted mentally (as previously mentioned), didn't use perfume soaps, or wash thier natural oils off as frequently, and probably had a diet that may have been condusive to being less attractive.
    The idea that American Indians had poor personal hygiene relative to Europeans is a myth. From Charles Mann's book 1491:

    "The British and French, many of whom had not taken a bath in their entire lives, were amazed by the Indian interest in personal cleanliness."

    For anyone interested in American Indian history, I highly recommend 1491. It argues that American Indians were not the nomadic hunter/gatherers that we imagine but rather urban citizens of complex societies in densely populated metropolises. They became nomadic hunter/gatherers after 1492 when their population levels crashed by 95% from European disease.

    From 1491:

    Between the visits of De Soto and La Salle, according to Timothy K. Perttula, an archaeological consultant in Austin, Texas, the Caddoan population fell from about 200,000 to about 8,500 -- a drop of nearly 96 percent. In the eighteenth century, the tally shrank further, to 1,400. An equivalent loss today would reduce the population of New York City to 56,000, not enough to fill Yankee Stadium. "That's one reason whites think of Indians as nomadic hunters" Russell, an anthropologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, said to me. "Everything else - -all the heavily populated urbanized societies -- was wiped out."

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobn911 View Post
    "Bounce" brand dryer sheets. Lace one half way through a belt loop and you are good to go. Cheap, works, and when it's done, toss it in the trash. Bob
    I've tried this in my backyard. Didn't work for me but YMMV.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOC-CANADA View Post
    Hey Quiet Bear, can you expand on the use of Bracken Fern?

    Doc
    Crush and rub on your skin, put under your hat. I haven't used it that much but seems to work on flies and skeeters OK, but not gnats or chiggers. Maybe its the frond swinging around from under my hat?

    I have had the best results with bayberry and paw paw. Some say jewelweed it a good insect repellent, but I have always used it for skin irritations.

  14. #34
    I think that diet definitely contributes to your attractiveness to insects. I doubt that the Indians as as much salty and sweet foods like we do today.

    I also suspect that insects may be attracted to certain blood types, as I have relatively rare BP blood and have been bitten more than others who were in the same location but had different blood types.

    Lastly, peoples living in the outdoors like Native Americans and villagers in So. America, Africa and SE Asia develop thicker skins from their exposure to outdoors. This makes them more (not completely) resistant to insect bites. I noticed this when observing a vaccination of villagers in SE Asia. Some people's skins on their arms were so thick that they sometimes bent the needles when trying to push in. One old guy broke 3 needles before the tech was able to successfully insert one.

  15. #35
    I have read that malaria was not a problem in Florida when it was Spanish, because their diet included lots of hot peppers that were exuded through the skin and naturally repelled mosquitoes. Malaria flared up after the English took over.
    And I believe citronella is a plant that grows naturally in the Everglades, and was used as a repellent. At least it was implied in the movie "Band of the Hand" (If I recall that name correctly).

  16. #36
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    CO2 also attracts tics, same reason.
    Also the Ph level of your skin has a lot to do with it, which can explain why some people are "loved" by mosquitoes, and others not bothered.

    Smoke repels mosquitoes, that would have been pretty evident to native americans.
    So, why not ashes from a prior fire? What else do ashes do? They change the Ph level of your skin from acidic to alkaline. the ashes also absorb any salty moisture from your skin.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quiet Bear View Post
    Crush and rub on your skin, put under your hat. I haven't used it that much but seems to work on flies and skeeters OK, but not gnats or chiggers. Maybe its the frond swinging around from under my hat?

    I have had the best results with bayberry and paw paw. Some say jewelweed it a good insect repellent, but I have always used it for skin irritations.
    How about cedar? Are you using the wood, somehow, or the foliage, or the berries, or what?

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quiet Bear View Post
    Maybe its the frond swinging around from under my hat?
    Thanks for getting back to me, Quiet Bear. I'll have to try it. Re: ........frond swinging............", that's an old trick to keep mosquitoes away from your face. One time I was hiking at a local bush and I had a branch of a shrub hanging out forwards, from under my hat and two young guys went by on bikes. They did quite the double take and I can just imagine how they related the story - old geezer, bush under his hat, getting close to dark............

    Doc

  19. #39
    The plant known as a Citronella Geranium definitely didn't work for me... I crushed several leaves and rubbed them on exposed skin; five minutes later, with my skin still smelling strongly of the plant, I watch three mosquitos land on me and bite.

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Return of the J.D. View Post
    How about cedar? Are you using the wood, somehow, or the foliage, or the berries, or what?
    Cedar makes a good smudge for insects - any part for smudge. I guess you could line some bark or foliage on the floor of a shelter, but I would rather use paw paw leaves.

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