Here’s a well known scenario.
You’re done setting up camp and ready to enjoy a beer. As you pop it open, you hear that buzzing noise that gives you chills. And not the good kind.
I’m pretty sure everyone knows what I’m talking about. Yes, that’s right – mosquitoes, the ultimate destroyers of every camping trip.
Be it spring, summer or fall, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll encounter them in the wilderness. But, that doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire camping trip scratching like crazy.
Ready to find out what the best way to keep mosquitoes away while camping is? In this article, I’ll share with you some tricks that’ll help you deal with these annoying insects.
Let’s dive in!
Useful Tips For Keeping Mosquitoes Away While Camping
Who would have thought that such tiny creatures could be the devastators of a camping trip?
But, that can only happen if you go unprepared.
Here are 11 tips on how you can build a line of defense against these flying annoyances.
Choose A Dry Campsite
The first thing you need to do is to decide where to set up a camp.
If you don’t want to be swarmed by mosquitoes, don’t camp next to standing water. By that, I mean avoid setting up your tent next to lakes, slow-flowing rivers or swamps, especially in places with tall grass and dense vegetation.
The reason why these places are bad choices for campsites is that female mosquitoes lay their eggs close to standing water. But, before they do, they need proteins to develop those eggs.
And the source of that protein?
What this means is that stagnant water is swarmed by hungry mosquito mothers-to-be, and your body is like a candy shop.
So if you don’t want to be a tasty meal to a scourge of mosquitoes, camp somewhere where it’s less likely you’ll encounter them.
Get A Mosquito Repellent Spray
Bug spray is probably the solution most people think of first. You can use it on your skin and clothes, but you can also spray your tent.
But, before you do, make sure to spray on a small area of skin to test for possible allergic reactions.
One of the most popular mosquito repellents is DEET, which is a common name for diethyltoluamide. This ingredient was developed by the U.S. Army back in the 1940s to protect soldiers from diseases spread by mosquitoes.
This ingredient is magical when it comes to repelling mosquitoes. But how it achieves that is still quite a puzzle for scientists. For a long time, it was believed that this chemical works by blocking an insect’s ability to smell us.
Nowadays, scientists believe it simply smells really bad to them, so they avoid it at all costs.
Another chemical that’s a great insect repellent is picaridin. To us, it’s odorless, and it doesn’t leave the greasy feel that DEET does.
They both work pretty well, so if you decide on bug spray, look for either of these ingredients.
Both of these chemicals are accepted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as safe for use. Only a handful of people experience skin rashes when sprayed with it. That’s why you should always test it on a small area of skin first.
Use Essential Oils
If you‘re still unsure about using chemicals, there’s a natural repellent option, too. Using essential oil is another way you can repel mosquitoes.
What’s even better, you can make your own natural insect repellent spray with these oils.
Keep in mind that these oils are made of concentrated herbal extracts, so you’ll have to dilute them. Fill half a spray bottle with distilled water and ¼ with rubbing alcohol. Then, add essential oil.
There are a lot of essential oils that repel mosquitoes. These include: eucalyptus, tea tree, cedarwood, thyme, mint, clove, rosemary, catnip, lemongrass and citronella oil.
One thing to keep in mind – always shake the bottle before you spray it on yourself. Oils are less dense than water, and they tend to separate after some time.
Light Bug Repellent Coils
Another thing that will keep the biting bugs away is a mosquito repellent coil.
For a long time, these have been made of pyrethrin, which is a natural compound extracted from chrysanthemums.
This is one of the strongest smelling flowers, so it’s no wonder that it’s overwhelming for mosquitoes. But, it can also be a tad too much for us humans, too. If that’s the case, there’s another alternative for you – citronella. This plant has a citrus-like smell.
If you’re concerned about mosquito coil health risks, let me reassure you. We can’t say exposure to any type of smoke is generally healthy. But, these coils don’t really pose a threat to your health, unless you’re using them all day, every day.
Cover Your Body
There’s no better way to protect yourself from mosquitoes than to put on an extra layer of clothing. If they can’t reach your body, they can’t bite you, right?
This, however, is easier said than done during summer. But even a light long sleeve shirt and ankle-length pants will help when dealing with these annoying insects.
On colder nights, thermal underwear does a great job at preventing mosquitoes from reaching your skin.
One thing you should also pay attention to is the color of the clothes you’re wearing. Dark colors attract these insects while lighter shades repel them.
Here’s a scientific explanation:
Mosquitoes have heat-sensing antennas that help them find their next “victim.” And since darker colors absorb more heat, mosquitoes are naturally more attracted to people wearing them.
Here’s another reason why these insects are more likely to bite people wearing dark colors – they’re more likely to sweat. And to mosquitoes, there’s nothing juicier than our body odor.
This brings us to our next solution…
Don’t Use Pleasant Scents
There’s something you should know before taking a bath on a camping trip.
It’s understandable that your skin might be asking for some extra moisture while you’re spending your days outdoors.
But, you should avoid using strong-scented shower gels, lotions, deodorants or perfumes. Most scents that we like – mosquitoes like too.
After bathing, use neutral-scented deodorant only. If you go with your favorite floral scented deo, you’re basically turning yourself into a giant mosquito snack.
Burn Sage Or Rosemary
There’s another way you can use herbs to drive mosquitoes away.
You can add dry sage or rosemary to the campfire. As they burn, they’ll release a scent that’s too strong for these biting insects to stick around.
What’s more, the scent emitting from the smoke will stay on your clothes as well as your skin and hair, so you’ll continue to repel them even after the fire’s gone.
Another way you can keep mosquitoes away is by spraying vinegar all around your campsite.
In fact, vinegar is often used as an insecticide that kills pests on contact. That’s because it’s acidic, but also because it has such an overwhelming scent.
Let’s be real, it’s pretty overpowering to most of us, too. But, it’s probably easier to endure the smell than itchy bites.
If you have apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, simply put it in a spray bottle and use it as such. White vinegar can also work, but it has to be mixed with water and a teaspoon of dish soap.
Finally, you can add some essential oils to make the scent more appealing. Peppermint, rosemary and lavender oil go best with the strong scent of vinegar.
Not everyone can stand being fully covered in chemicals. That’s why some people opt for a bug repellent bracelet.
These are usually infused with botanical products like mint or citronella oils.
However, these have a pretty small radius and a single bracelet won’t do much. What I usually do when there’s a mosquito invasion is I put a bracelet on both hands and legs. That way, at least my ankles and wrists are protected.
There are different kinds of repellent bracelets on the market. Temporary bracelets last anywhere from 20 to 200 hours, and are great for weekend trips.
But, if you’re regularly visiting places swarmed by mosquitoes, you’ll need a more long-lasting option. There are wristbands that use replaceable capsules filled with different scented ingredients. So, you might want to think about getting some of these for longer trips.
Get A Mosquito Net
We shouldn’t forget about the actual physical barriers that work wonders when it comes to avoiding mosquito bites.
There’s plenty of mesh gear that can make your camping trip more enjoyable. Things like screen houses and mesh inner tents allow you to enjoy the scenery and fresh air outside, while staying away from these annoying pests.
There are also hammocks with mesh nets, in case you like to feel the breeze on your face while you’re sleeping.
Finally, let’s not forget about the not-so-popular choice – head nets and mosquito jackets. These basically serve as a mesh shield. You’ll probably look a bit weird, but if you’re tired of being itchy the whole day, this is a worthy investment.
Bring Along Friends That Are “Mosquito Magnets”
Okay, so this is a joke, but here’s the thing – we all know that person that gets a hundred mosquito bites within minutes of being outdoors. That’s because mosquitoes are attracted to their body odor more.
Body odor is defined by genetics. So if you’re the mosquito magnet, your genes are to blame. But, that also means that your brother or sister are probably loved by these insects, too.
So, if you take your siblings camping, there’s a 50-50 chance you’ll be their main focus.
To Sum Things Up
There’s a lot of different things you can do to fight off these pesky insects. Some will work better than others, but combining them will yield the best results.
From picking a camp spot away from their breeding place to covering your body with mosquito-repellent products, now you know different things you can do to protect yourself from these tiny creatures.
Now, go enjoy the outdoors without worrying about them.