Taking a camping trip is arguably the best possible way to unwind and unplug from all of modern life’s distractions and escape the technology overload so many people face. However, getting out and exploring nature means dealing with a wide variety of pesky insects like mosquitoes, ticks, flies, bees, ants, and spiders, to name just a few. While many of the pests seek out people and pets to steal a blood meal, even insects that don’t bite can be enough of a nuisance to make you want to stay home. To help you enjoy yourself and get the most from your time outdoors, here are a baker’s dozen tried-and-true ways of keeping bugs away when camping:
1) Bug Sprays
Insect repellent is typically the first go-to option for most people when heading outdoors, and an effective backpacking bug spray is essential if heading into the deep woods. There are a wide variety of effective preparations ranging from those using DEET to natural oils. Still, many people shy away from sprays and lotions with harsher chemicals, and some natural repellents, like lemon eucalyptus oil, don’t last very long. However, there are some excellent middle-of-the-road options that use ingredients like picaridin that last for hours, have low acute toxicity, and are available in various strengths and sizes.
2) Repellent Bracelets
For those who don’t like to apply bug repellents to their body, mosquito repellent bracelets work on the same principle as pet flea and tick collars. These are designed to be worn on the wrist, but you can hang them from your shirt or belt if desired. These are good options for children who often don’t have the patience for you to apply a repellent thoroughly.
3) Repellent Diffuser and Coils
Diffusers emit pesticides that can work for up to 12 hours and are reported to provide over 80 percent protection against mosquitoes. Diffusers are typically battery operated, so they can provide a portable bug shield anywhere you go. When lit, coils are designed to smoke and emit a powerful pyrethrum aroma to keep mosquitoes and other flying insects at bay.
4) Food as Repellents
Mosquitoes and other pets detest some foods’ scents so much that these foods act as repellents. These include:
• Apple cider vinegar
• Chili Peppers
• Citrus fruit
While eating some of these foods, such as garlic, onions, and chili peppers, in a high enough quantity will produce a body odor bugs don’t like, rubbing lemons peels on clothing or your hair will help keep the pests away. Some of these foods, like chocolate, also mask the Co2 signature of your breath, which is one of the things mosquitoes hone in on.
5) Stay Hydrated
Perspiration is one of the things that attract mosquitoes to you, and exerting yourself in the heat of summer causes your body temperature to rise, resulting in increased perspiration. Staying hydrated when camping can help keep your body temperature down and reduce your attractiveness to mosquitoes.
6) Cover Up
Wearing long sleeves and pants, a hat, and even a bug net over your head will help stop the bugs from getting to your skin. However, mosquitoes can sometimes bite through clothing made of lightweight fabric, so the heavier the clothing is, the better. Of course, on a hot summer night, wearing a lot of clothes is often impractical, if not impossible. However, some companies make garments impregnated with insect repellent, and specialized lighter-weight clothing mosquitoes can’t bite through. It is also important to wear light or neutral-colored clothing when outside as the little blood suckers are attracted to dark colors.
7) Avoid Peak Activity Time
Mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn and settle down after sunrise. If possible, stay close to camp in the evening, where your mosquito deterrents are set up.
8) Keep a Clean Campsite
Some bugs, like flies, ants, and wasps, are attracted to the scent of food, so it is essential to keep your campsite as clean as possible to avoid having pests come looking for a meal. Keep food containers closed, don’t let trash lie around, wash dishes as soon as possible after eating and be sure to wipe down the table after a meal.
9) Tents Screens and Screen Rooms
While sleeping under the stars when camping may sound like an incredibly romantic notion, having a screen between you and the great outdoors will earn you a better night’s sleep in bug country. Get a tent with an excellent zip-up door and plenty of screens. Screen rooms are a good option for meals and just hanging out on a hot summer night. However, if you have to sleep outside, there are bug nets that are designed especially for hammocks.
10) Go Fragrance-Free
While you don’t have to go without washing or brushing your teeth, bugs are attracted to many of the scents in soaps, lotions, and toothpaste. To thwart their sense of smell, be sure to use only natural, fragrance-free products, skip the cologne altogether, and use an unscented mosquito repellent lotion.
11) Pick a Dry Campsite
Mosquitoes, flies, and many other bugs are attracted to wet environments. One of the most important steps to keep bugs away when camping is to select a campsite that is not in a depression or low-lying area, or you could end up with puddles under your tent and lots of bugs.
12) Setup Barriers
You don’t have to cover yourself with bug sprays formulated with harsh chemicals to keep the bugs away while you are hanging out at camp. Laying down a protective barrier around the perimeter of your campsite with foggers and DEET sprays is a great option for keeping bugs away. Because bugs live predominately in the grass, bushes, and shrubs, spraying or fogging your campsite before you set up will go a long way in reducing the pests that will be hanging around your camp waiting for their opportunity to move in.
13) Blast ‘Em
The “Salt Blaster” is designed specially for the big-bug hunter and makes killing the camp invaders fun. Resembling a super-soaker water gun, the salt blaster shoots a powerful charge of salt that obliterates any bugs that are unfortunate enough to cross your path. As the salt blaster uses regular table salt, the ammo is cheap.
In addition to just being a nuisance, many bugs carry bacterial and viral diseases that can be life-threatening to humans. Mosquitoes carry several viruses, and ticks harbor bacterial diseases that are easily transmissible. To safeguard yourself and your loved ones, it is imperative to do everything you can to prevent being bitten. ProvenⓇ makes a highly effective line of insect repellent sprays and lotion that use picaridin as the active ingredient. A common question is, what is picaridin? Picaridin is a synthetic derivative of the substance found naturally in the black pepper plant that has a strong repellent effect on many species of bugs. Picaridin is one of the most effective alternatives to DEET-based repellent for its high efficacy and low acute toxicity.. ProvenⓇ makes a handy travel size as well so you can always have bug spray with you on-the-go. ProvenⓇ products are sold online at ProvenRepellent.com, on Amazon and in-store at Meijer, Tractor Supply Company, Target and ACE Hardware.