QUICK ANSWER: How To Keep Bugs Away While Camping
1. Start by choosing a dry, shady campsite and keep it dry and clean. In the evening, build a nice smoky campfire.
2. The rest of the time, you’ll need a variety of strategies, including citronella candles, fly traps, mosquito traps, and essential oils.
3. And don’t forget to make yourself less attractive to bugs by avoiding sweets, eating lots of garlic and onions, avoiding bright colors, and wearing bug spray when you absolutely have to.
4. Finally, always keep your tent closed, and if you have to open it, use citronella and other bug repellants to keep the bugs out.
Check out our indepth guide to enjoying a bug and insect free camping trip below. There's 10 easy tips to follow, plus even more hacks for ridding your campground of flies, mosquitoes and spiders!
If you’re clever, you can win the war on bugs before it even begins. It’s all about choosing the right campsite. Look for a campsite that’s as dry and shady as possible. The dryness means there will be fewer mosquitoes, and the shade, in addition to providing a cool place to relax, will help to keep flies away. Stay away from the woods if you can. Bugs love hanging out in the organic matter that covers forest floors.
So basically, if you want to avoid bugs, look for a dry, shady campsite that’s far away from bodies of water and forests. But sometimes this isn’t an option. Other times, you just want to camp next to that big beautiful lake and we totally understand. Keep reading to learn how to win the war-on-bugs once you’re deep into their territory.
As far as bugs are concerned, the wetter and grosser something is the better. So they’ll love your damp clothes and dirty dishes.
You’ll be amazed how quickly they’ll pounce on these treats, so you need to be diligent. Make sure all wet items are hung up to dry far away from your campsite and clean your pots, pans, and plates immediately after you use them.
This is one of the oldest and most effective methods for keeping bugs away. They absolutely hate smoke, and even if they didn’t, the intense heat of the fire would be enough to keep them away. If you don’t know how to make one, check out our guide.
If you really want to make a bug repellant fire, throw some damp twigs in to make it extra smokey. Or for a more fragrant option, bring some sage along to add to the fire. For whatever reason, bugs can’t stand the smell of it.
Though we love the campfire method, it’s hard to keep a fire roaring for more than a couple hours at a time. For all those other hours in the day, we recommend using citronella candles. Citronella, an extract of lemongrass, is a well-known natural bug repellant, and you’ll find it in all sorts of bug repelling products. It may not be as powerful as campfire smoke, but it’s a great back-up.
If you can’t keep the bugs away from your campsite, you can at least try to keep them away from your body. There are a variety of things you can do to make yourself taste less delicious.
Eating onions and garlic, for example, will not only give you bad breath, but it will make your skin just oniony and garlicky enough to keep the bugs away.
For a less aromatic option, some people swear by vitamin B. Start regularly taking vitamin B supplements weeks before your camping trip and you’ll turn into a walking bug repellant. Others claim that the same is true of zinc.
Some smells, on the other hand, will attract bugs. At the top of the list are fragrant hygiene products. Bugs love the smell of perfume, shampoo, soap, and deodorant. So next time you go camping, bring fragrance-free toiletries or go all natural.
This won’t prevent bugs from flying into your face, but it’ll at least keep them from covering you in bites. Just make sure your clothes aren’t so thin that the bugs can bite through them.
Bug nets will, in fact, prevent bugs from flying into your face. Unfortunately, they’re kind of annoying and not very stylish, but that shouldn’t stop you from using them.
This is probably the most obvious item on the list, but despite how common bug sprays are, they shouldn’t be your first choice when defending against bugs.
First of all, deet based sprays, which are the most common type of bug spray, can be
surprisingly dangerous, especially when used in concentrations over 50%. On the mild end, these sprays can lead to rashes, but in extreme cases, they can cause seizures, comas, and even death.
Now, we don’t mean to scare you, and we’re not saying you should never ever use deet products. But they should be used as a last resort.
In light of these risks, many campers turn to natural sprays, but unfortunately, they’re often not as effective. Luckily for us, Consumer Reports conducted a study on the effectiveness of various bug sprays. According to the study, if you want a natural bug spray that actually works, go with lemon eucalyptus.
You should always bring bug spray with you, but unless it’s all-natural and benign, don’t apply it until you have no other option.
Bugs are most active at dusk and dawn, and that goes double for mosquitoes. So make sure you’re prepared well ahead of time. For example, start making your campfire in the late afternoon so that it’s nice and smoky by the time the bugs start attacking. This also means you can usually relax a bit during the day, especially if you’re in a less buggy area.
A swarm of flies can ruin a good camping trip. Their bites are shockingly painful and they’ll itch for days. And even the flies that don’t bite are annoying enough to ruin even the best afternoon, especially at meal time. These five tips will show you how to keep flies away from your campsite:
We know that s’mores are an inextricable part of the camping experience, but keep your consumption to a minimum if you want to keep the flies away. They love sweets even more than you do.
Fly strips are pieces of sticky plastic that attract flies. They usually have a sweet aroma that flies go crazy over, but by the time they realize it isn’t food, they’re already stuck on the strip.
You can find fly strips for sale online or at your local outdoors store. Or if you’re the crafty type, you can make your own by smearing honey or corn syrup onto a ribbon.
Anyone who’s been near bright lights at night knows how much flies love them. So why don’t you put bright lights away from your campsite as a distraction? It works. But, unfortunately, this method is often only mildly effective.
This is an especially strange one, but we’ve seen so many people use it, we’re convinced it works. Take a big ziplock bag, fill it with water, and add a few pennies. Then, hang the bag up and watch the flies cower in fear. Add another bag if one isn’t enough.
No one’s really sure how this one works. Some say the refraction of the sunlight through the water scares them away. Others say it’s the pennies which look like giant, predatory eyes. Either way, it’ll keep the flies away, and that’s what’s important.
Trap jars follow the same principle as the fly strips above: attract the flies with something sweet then never let them leave. To make a trap jar, start with an ordinary glass jar; fill it with something sweet like honey, corn syrup, or sugar water; then poke holes in the lid and leave it out in your campsite. Flies will fly in through the holes and then drown in the water.
If there’s one bug more annoying than the fly, it’s the mosquito. Here's the top 6 best ways to repel mosquitoes and keep your next camping trip bite- and itch-free.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, such as puddles. So, if your campsite is full of standing water, you may be in for an invasion, especially if you’re going to be staying for a few days. If you want to kill them all before they hatch, throw coffee grounds into the water.
This is the nuclear option, and we’re not necessarily recommending it. You’ll be killing thousands of mosquitoes, and if it were any other animal, we wouldn’t even include it on this list. But if you’re in an area where mosquitoes carry diseases, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you can stand the smell of vinegar, put some on your skin to keep the mosquitoes away. If vinegar isn’t your thing, try doing the same with citrus fruits.
Metofluthrin is a relatively new chemical that’s highly effective at keeping mosquitoes away. According to one study, it reduces exposure to mosquitoes by up to 97%. A metofluthrin diffuser is a device that uses a fan to spread metofluthrin throughout your campsite.
Essential oils are a great natural way to ward off mosquitoes. Just dab a little on your ankles, wrists, and neck and the smell should do the rest. Some mosquito-repelling oils to try are lavender, citronella, basil, lemon, and eucalyptus.
This is one you’ve probably never heard before. Because of the way their eyes work, mosquitoes are attracted to bright colors. Go with a dark green or blue instead. Oh, and in the evening, make sure you're wearing long sleeves and light trousers for a bit of added protection.
Here’s another easy-to-make bug trap. First, mix brown sugar into hot water (use your campfire or stove). Once it’s well mixed, cut a plastic bottle in half and pour the sugary liquid into the bottom half and add some yeast. Then, tape the top half of the bottle upside down (like a funnel) into the opening of the bottom half. Leave the trap in a heavy mosquito area and voila!
Take some aloe vera gel with you just in case you do get bitten. It works wonders when applied to mosqitoe bites, helping that annoying itching to dissapear really quickly.
The only thing worse than a campsite full of bugs is a tent full of bugs. Follow these four tips to make sure your tent remains a safe haven against the swarms.
Yes, this is obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this. If you don’t want bugs to get into your tent, keep it closed at all times. Only open it briefly when you’re getting in and out.
When it’s really buggy, even the split second you open the door to get in and out is too much. Add some drops of citronella oil (or other essential oils) around the edges of the door to keep the bugs at bay.
This is a risky option, but it’s very effective. Just always make sure you keep an eye on the candle and put it in a spot where it won’t tip over.
These days, many tents come with double-layered doors: one made of nylon and the other of netting. This gives you the option to keep your nylon door open without letting bugs in. You’ll stay cool, breezy, and bug-free.
Once again, we all know that bugs are attracted to lights. So make sure to turn yours off when you’re getting in and out of your tent at night.
Now that we’ve armed you with these bug-fighting tips, it’s time to get out there and use them. Some of the most beautiful areas in the world are full of bugs, and now you can enjoy them in relative peace. But we’ll warn you, even with these tips you might get a bug bite here and there. Learn to accept it. It’s part of the adventure.
Have we missed one of your favourite bug-fighting strategies? Let us know by leaving a quick comment. =ZIP=