11 Effective Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping
I’ve a big underlying hate for bugs, and my biggest fear is getting bit by a bug and getting so insanely sick while camping that I die. Clearly, this isn’t a realistic scenario, but it’s not far-fetched.
However, my biggest concern is how these pesky bugs can be a real bother; I get annoyed by mosquitoes and crawlers. But on the flip side, I desperately still want to go camping.
Now, if you’ve been in such a situation, I’m sure you think there’s gotta be a way. True, you could employ several tips and tricks, so there won’t be any bugs crawling on you.
And in this guide, I’ll share some tips I’ve been hugely successful with in keeping bugs away while camping.
11 How To Keep Bugs Away While Camping
1. Understand their Habits
Understanding their habits is one of the best ways of coping with bugs, especially mosquitoes. Certain seasons, days, times, or locations greatly influence the bug numbers.
For example, most bugs are usually active around dawn and dusk, largely due to the mild temperatures. So, I suggest you be in your tent at these times. As such, create a habit of waking up very early to make your breakfast and retreat to the comfort and safety of your bed before these pesky ninjas wake up.
Same thing for the evening.
The location when you set the tent may also influence whether you’ll have unwelcome visitors. For example, camping near lakes or water bodies is fantastic but may expose you more to bugs. Mosquitoes love still waters for breeding.
So, avoid staying too close to natural water bodies.
The environment may also affect how you relate to the bugs. For example, male mosquitoes hardly bite but instead prefer to suck the juice from plant leaves. So, if you camp in a location with plenty of dense vegetation, you’re more likely to come into contact with bugs than camping in dry, boggy meadows.
I suggest you camp away from the low-sheltered areas. Yes, they’re nice for shielding against the elements, but because there’s no wind flow, the location is attractive for bugs. Of course, too much wind is annoying, but at least you get the idea of what I mean when selecting your camping location.
Finally, it’s good to consider the season. Most bugs are usually a nuisance in summer, so if you know bugs love you, consider heading out during other seasons.
2. Dress Appropriately
Dressing appropriately and wearing the right clothes is half the battle won against keeping the pesky bugs out.
Ideally, you need clothes that cover you and expose your skin less. I wear pants and long-sleeved shirts to reduce the amount of exposed skin. Sunglasses, collars, shoes, socks, and hats are other fantastic ways to cover your skin and keep the ticks and critters away.
However, covering your skin can be impractical in certain situations, such as backpacking in hot weather. Also, if your clothing fabric is ultra-light and runs right up to your skin, bugs can bite through.
3. Start Campfire
Campfires are time-tested bug repellents. The heat from the campfire will generally scare away the bugs from your immediate area. But more importantly, most bugs hate hanging around smoke.
Therefore, smoking cigarettes is also a great way to deter bugs.
At camp, I usually make a campfire with lots of thick, low-hanging smoke and allow my clothes to suck all in. I also add dried sage into the fire, which helps clear out the bugs.
The only downside of using this method is it has limited coverage. It also means you’ve to put up with smoky clothes; it’s time-consuming and carries the risk of equipment damage.
4. Anti-Bug Sprays
Bug sprays are also another fantastic remedy against the bug. Generally, bug sprays fall into two main categories: spray on the skin & pretreat your clothes (permethrin).
Permethrin lasts longer and weeks if you don’t do your laundry. It also carries no safety or health risk.
But my go-to solution is a hybrid solution. Apply on the skin and clothes.
If you choose a chemical-based spray, consider one with DEET; it’s more effective. My favorite DEET brad is Deep Woods Off-Dry. It’s a dry formula and repels and kills mosquitoes and other bugs. It also doesn’t leave my skin sticky.
But understand DETT has a neurotoxin and, therefore, harmful to humans. If you’ve pets with you, also take time to learn about the effects of DEET and how to avoid them. On high dosages, DEET may also melt nylon and polyester, although at microscopic levels.
So, what I like to do after setting up my tent is take a card or two and spray them with DEET and leave them out by my tent, especially at the entrance locations. You could spray it on your clothes and shoes, but not directly on your skin.
However, there’re plenty of other bug repellents. Lemon Eucalyptus is less acrid and my favorite alternative to DEET.
5. Apply Creams
If the bug sprays aren’t your thing, you should consider applying bug creams. The bug creams are more skin-friendly than DEET and are designed for topical application.
I’m a big fan of lemon-eucalyptus repellent. It’s as effective as DEET and keeps bugs and critters away.
6. Zip your Tent
Another tip I like when keeping bugs away while camping is securing my tent and ensuring no bugs can get inside.
So, when I set up my tent, I ensure it’s all zipped up all the time, and when climbing up, I only zip it enough to squeeze in. This helps to brush off any bugs on your clothes and ensure no other unwanted visitors get inside.
And when you’re inside, do a quick check and hunt down any bugs that may have snuck inside.
7. Get a Fan
Bugs, especially flying insects, don’t like moving air. So, if you’re camping in a low-sheltered area without wind flow, consider investing in an electric fan.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be huge, but just enough to feel it on your skin. If it moves sideways, that is even better, or you can hang it at the top of your tent ceiling.
The air drift from the fan discourages mosquitoes from flying around and actively prevents them from landing on your body or even getting near you. It’s also helpful on hot, muggy summer days.
8. Bug Shield
If you’re bothered by bugs, consider a bug shield to keep them off. Mosquito netting is a great solution to keep the bugs out, while a good bug jacket is worth its weight in gold.
Other barriers like tents and screen rooms do a great job of keeping the bugs away from you. Also, consider screen enclosures for hammocks and ensure they’re properly closed.
9. Eat Garlic
Oddly enough, eating some foods will put off some bugs. Garlic, in particular, allows the garlic smell to come out of your pores, and mosquitoes hate it.
And the good thing is you don’t have to eat real garlic. Consider the garlic pill, but not the odorless kind you need to stink.
Vitamin B is also effective at repelling bugs. Of course, vitamin B will take time to build up in your body. You must take the Vitamin B pill at least a week before your trip.
10. Be Aware of the Deodorants you Use
You must be aware of the kinds of deodorants and soaps you use while camping. Most heavily perfumed and scented soaps and does will attract bugs.
If you’ve to use a deodorant, consider peppermint. Peppermint does a great job of repelling bugs, and you’ll get fewer bug bites than when using other soaps.
11. Consider Thermacell
Thermalcell is a device handheld device that releases bug-repelling scents. It comes with a refill pack of butane and scent thing.
However, like any other camping gear, the efficacy of this tool will depend on its usage; if used improperly or not at all, it delivers subpar results.
For example, a Thermacell is great when you’re stationary. From experience, it’s not worth it to keep burning when you’re moving, but firing it a few minutes when taking a break help.
Also, it works best when the wind isn’t strong. When the wind is light, it helps and keeps bugs in a 10′ circle or so.
A remedy to Bug Bite While Camping
One thing to keep in mind when heading outdoors is you’ll inevitably get bitten, regardless of the techniques you use to deter them.
However, if you’re sensitive to bug bites and usually have bad reactions such as swelling, consider bringing antihistamines with you.
I’ve had pretty much success with second-generate antihistamines such as cetirizine. It’s effective against mosquito bites. Also, get some Benadryl, topical antihistamine cream, or reacting, in case the itching from mosquito bug bites gets too much.
I’ve generally found that keeping away from the bugs works much better than trying to keep the bugs away. After all, bugs are part of the outdoors.
Of course, I’ve already highlighted how you can keep these pesky bugs away from you, but at the end of the day, remember you’re in their world.
Happy camping, folks!