Everything You Need to Know About Mosquito Bed Nets

By: Peter
Last updated:
learn about mosquito bed nets

Do you live, or are you traveling to a place where there are lots of mosquitoes, especially where mosquito-spread diseases are present? It could be a foreign country or camping with your family near your home.

Wherever you are, mosquito nets can provide essential protection from these blood-sucking insects. They come in different shapes, and some may be more suitable for your needs than others.

How do you choose the mosquito net that will be right for you? Let’s find out!

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What Are Mosquito Nets and Why They Are Important?

Mosquito or bug netting creates a barrier to insects and protects people sleeping or sitting under them. They are made of mesh material, with lots of tiny holes that allow air to pass through but not insects.

Mosquito nets are among the most effective ways to protect against diseases, notably malaria, spread by mosquitoes. A simple mosquito bite can lead to serious illness and even death in some circumstances.

Nets are essential when traveling in warm, humid countries where hotel rooms with air conditioning and screened windows are impossible. Without mosquito netting, you would have little to protect you except maybe some repellent on your skin.

You can find mosquito netting for beds, patio umbrellas, gazebos, hammocks, prams, hats, clothing, camping, windows, and doors.

When Should You Use Mosquito Nets?

If you are traveling to or living in a region where there are many mosquitoes, especially where mosquitoes are vectors of disease, then mosquito nets are necessary. They will provide protection indoors over beds or outdoors over tents, sunbeds, picnic tables, hammocks, chairs…

Some of the diseases mosquitoes can carry are Malaria, Dengue fever, Chikungunya, West Nile virus, Zika virus, etc. If you check the CDC Travelers’ Health page, you can see the risks in your destination country.

A mosquito can enter a house, hotel, or tent through any opening. If the hotel or house you’re staying in has screens on the windows and door, you will be a little safer. Air conditioning may help reduce mosquito activity but is far from a complete solution.

It’s challenging to keep all mosquitoes out, so I think a mosquito net is necessary in an area where mosquito-spread diseases are prevalent. Without a net, you will be exposed to the dangers of mosquito bites and disease.

Can Mosquitoes Bite Through Bed Nets?

If a mosquito net is correctly positioned, it will allow light and air to penetrate through the mesh but not mosquitoes. However, if the net is in contact with the skin of someone inside the net, then a mosquito can bite through the net.

The female mosquito bites with her needle-like mouth called a proboscis. This has a diameter of 40-100 microns which will pass through the mesh in a mosquito net. The mesh size in a bednet for mosquitoes can be from 156-300 holes per square inch.

One way to help avoid bites through the net is to tuck the net under the mattress so it is taught to prevent sagging that might touch your skin. This should keep you bite-free unless you move about a lot in your sleep and end up against the netting.

Even doing this, some people still report getting bites on feet, especially when using a conic or wedge-shaped net, where the slope is shallower around the feet. If you find your feet touching the net, you could apply some mosquito repellent just to your feet. Otherwise, a rectangular net will reduce the risk of you touching the net because all the sides are vertical.

Can Mosquitoes Get Through A Mosquito Net?

A mosquito shouldn’t be able to get through a net if it is placed correctly. It should be tucked under your mattress both to stop it from sagging and to be sure there are no gaps around the edges that will let mosquitoes enter. If it’s not tucked under the mattress, the net should touch the floor all around.

You should also regularly check to ensure there are no holes or tears that the mosquitoes might find. A mosquito will fly around the outside of a bed net for hours, searching for an entry, so make sure any damage is promptly repaired.

Insecticide-Treated Mosquito Bed Net or Untreated?

insecticide-treated mosquito net
The use of long-lasting insecticide-treated nets each night is one of the most effective ways to prevent malaria by DFAT is licensed under CC BY 2.0. 

An insecticide-treated net is known as an ITN. They are used widely where malaria is endemic, and they have significantly reduced the number of deaths. So they are very effective; they kill mosquitoes on contact and provide a physical barrier. Nets treated with an insecticide offer better protection than untreated nets.

However, an interesting fact has emerged. Where treated bed nets are widely used, they have changed the mosquitoes’ behavior. In some areas, they develop a resistance to the nets, a behavioral resistance, where they change their biting behavior from night to day.

Do you need a treated bed net? It really depends on the infestation level and the prevalent diseases in the area you are visiting or where you live. If you’re traveling to where malaria is endemic, you should use an insecticide-treated bed net. Treated nets are more effective than non-treated nets.

With a non-treated net, mosquitoes may still bite you through the net or may be able to get through if there are any small gaps. They will also fly around outside the net, making their irritating noise that may disturb your sleep. If a mosquito lands on an insecticide-treated net, it will die.

A treated net can reduce the number of mosquitoes in a room, deters insects from biting through the netting, and may help to protect you if your net is damaged.

Bed nets are usually treated with pyrethroids such as permethrin or deltamethrin. These will kill insects on contact but pose low health risks to humans. You can buy permethrin as a spray or as a liquid to treat a net yourself or to prolong the life of your treated net.

How long can a mosquito net be used for?

A non-treated mosquito net will last as long as it remains effective, i.e., it has no holes or tears. So, careful use of your net will increase its life indefinitely. If it is a net treated with insecticide, the insecticide protection can last for at least 3 years, even with repeated washings.

How to Choose A Mosquito Net For Your Bed

There are many different nets to choose from. Some of the considerations are the mesh size, the shape, is it for traveling, and the material it’s made of.

The Size of the Mesh

For protection against mosquitoes, the WHO recommends 156 holes per square inch. Less than 156 holes/inch² and mosquitoes and other insects may pass through it. You will need a finer mesh if you want to keep out other insects, like no-see-ums. The finer the mesh, the less the airflow, which is something to bear in mind in hot climates.

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The Shape

Bed nets can be rectangular, conical, wedge-shaped, and even pop-up.

Rectangular or box nets give the most space, air circulation and create a box shape. They can be draped over a frame, attached to hanging loops, hooks on a wall, or, if used outside, can be attached to branches. There is less chance of being bitten through a rectangular net as your skin will make less contact with the mesh.

If you’re staying in a hotel or holiday rental property, you will need to find suspension points, which can be a problem. You could use velcro hanging strips that don’t leave marks when you take them down to hang the nets.

Because of the need for several suspension points, a box net should probably be considered when staying at least a few days in the same place. Considering the amount of netting and the extra-fine mesh, the Even Naturals box net in the image is relatively light and weighs 590g or about 1.3lbs.

Conical or bell nets have a point of attachment in the ceiling at the center of a hoop or frame at the top of the net. The hoop can be different sizes, but the larger the hoop, the more spacious the protected area.

If you’re using a conical net for traveling, it’s a good choice in that it only requires one attachment but make sure the hoop or frame is good quality and can be folded without breaking or assembled and dismantled easily.

As there is the hoop or frame, a bell net might be slightly heavier and bulkier than a box net that is simply attached to suspension points.

The Universal Backpackers Mosquito Net for single to king-sized beds in the photo weighs 0.71 pounds or 322 grams.

Wedge-shaped or pyramid nets are usually made for single beds, although some are for double beds on the market. They are suspended from the tent roof or the walls or ceiling in a room from one or two supporting points.

The high or suspended end is over the person’s head, and the lower end is tucked around the mattress or sleeping bag. Wedge-shaped nets are very light and don’t take up much room.

The pyramid net in the image weighs just 154g or 0.34 pounds

Pop-up or free-standing nets are very easy to employ. They resemble a tent, but they are made of mosquito netting instead of waterproof fabric. These self-supporting nets use metal, wire, or plastic poles to make a frame.

They can be used in several places – on a bed, outside to protect a sun lounger or a baby while he’s sleeping, or in your lounge when you’re doing your yoga. They are self-standing and can be put up in seconds.

Some may not be ideal for taking on a plane because they are a little bulky and may not fit into a standard suitcase or a rucksack. Something to verify when buying.

If you’re traveling somewhere by car, say for a camping trip, they are great—a little more expensive to buy than conventional nets.

You can also find nets that will cover most cots, playpens, car seats, strollers… they have elastic around the edges that keep them in place and make them easy to remove.

Mosquito Nets for Travelling

What sort of net you buy depends on the nature of your trip. If you’re moving about a lot, you require something lightweight, versatile, and fits in your luggage or rucksack. A wedge/pyramid net, a conical net with one suspension point, or a pop-up net could fit the bill.

If you stay in the same place for a while, you may want something that provides a little more space and comfort, such as a bell net or rectangular/box net.

Mosquito Net Fabric

Mosquito nets can be made from polyester, polyethylene, or polypropylene. Cotton has been used in the past but is used less now due to low tear resistance, low resistance to dampness and mold, and weighs more when wet.

Polyester is the most widely used fabric today. It has low weight, is more durable, and provides more ventilation.

Mosquito Bed Nets Summary

If you live or are going somewhere known for mosquito-transmitted disease, then it’s best to use a mosquito net for sleeping and other outdoor activities wherever possible. An insecticide-treated net will be more effective than a non-treated net and is essential if malaria is present.

The form of the net will depend on whether you are traveling, camping, or using it for more extended stays. If your net requires suspension points, taking some form of adhesive hooks with you is recommended.

Mosquitoes are generally more active early in the morning, in the evening, and at night but can bite at any time. When a net does not protect you, use an EPA registered repellent and cover up with long sleeves and trousers.

Photo of author


Peter spends most of his time outside in his large garden. He has been fighting mosquitoes for a few years trying different traps and repellents without using agressive chemicals.