10 Foolproof ways To Keep Bugs Away While Camping

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Keeping bugs away while camping is something that no one wants to worry about.  The reality is that when you’re in the great outdoors, bugs are too, and sometimes the most idyllic campsites, also are the most bug-infested camping areas. 

While we know that bugs can’t be completely irradicated, there are lots of things that you can do to help avoid bugs while camping and to not attract them to your campsite.  

There’s also that fear of being bitten by something potentially poisonous. It becomes an even bigger issue if one takes children with them, as kids’ bug bites often need immediate care. It’s important to remember that while this is an issue, it is not an incurable one. If you keep in mind what keeps bugs away, you can enjoy your camping trip to the fullest.

There is a wide number of insects that may pose an issue if you are planning a camping trip in the woods. These include mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, bees, spiders, beetles, centipedes, etc.

Here are our best tips to help you keep bugs away while camping:

Choose The Right Time and Location For Camping

It is a wise idea to go camping in the woods during seasons during which you’ll have minimal issues with bugs. Fall is a good time for camping as you won’t have to deal with too many bugs, as opposed to spring or summer. 

However, if spring and summers are the only time you can go camping, it is a good idea to stay away from places like lakes, ponds, or a river, since they will attract more bugs and mosquitoes while camping.

Going camping during the winters is ideal if you want to avoid bugs entirely, though the weather may not be totally ideal (unless you really like camping in the cold). 

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Wearing full-sleeved and long-legged clothing is a great way of keeping bugs away. Wearing gloves or socks for extra protection never hurts either. It might seem like a hassle and might sound tedious to not wear shorts and sleeveless clothing and feel the air on your skin. You can even get clothing treated with permethrin to keep bugs at bay, if you really have your heart set on camping in an area with lots of bugs.  

Wearing clothes that keep bugs away from your skin is one of the easiest ways to keep bugs away while camping.  

Apply Mosquito Repellent On Your Clothing And Camping Supplies

As a precautionary measure, it is advisable to apply a permethrin treatment to all the clothes and camping gear you are planning to take on your trip. It also works as a great tent insect repellent (though read the label first to make sure that the brand you buy can be applied to a tent – we recommend this TENT BUG SPRAY).  

Once dried, its effects can last up to 30 rounds of laundry. Permethrin is great for keeping bugs away. It is an insecticide that kills any bug or insect that touches the clothing or skin treated with it. Hence, it is a great bug repellent for camping.  Applying an aerosol like OFF to the inside of a tent can actually destroy the waterproofing, so make sure to be careful about what you use.

Use Mosquito Nets Where You Sleep

Even if you have individual tents for sleeping, bugs will still find a way inside your tent.  If you’re in a mosquito-infested area, consider hanging a mosquito net over your head or your tent. Mosquito nets are thick and offer double protection, especially in combination with a tent insect repellent. Plain old tents may have holes in them (or just gaps in the ends of the zipper) which may provide easy access for the mosquitos and other flying bugs to enter.

Keep a Handy Bug Spray For Camping 

While packing for your trip, pack a bug spray for camping to deal with any stray bugs that you might see crawling on or towards you or your camping equipment. Bug sprays are an instant quick fix and also an added protection to keep you safe from potentially poisonous insects. 

However, do your research before you select what type of bug spray you take along. Some bug sprays for camping contain chemicals that are toxic once accidentally ingested. If you’re taking children along on camping trips it’s a good idea to be mindful of such ingredients while choosing your bug spray for camping. 

It’s also important to do your research to have an idea of how bad the bugs might be where you’re going.  If there are only light mosquitoes, you don’t need an insect repellent with DEET, and likewise if the mosquitoes are really bad, you need something stronger than an herbal application.

Use Mosquito Repellent Creams or Lotions

Apply mosquito repellent on your arms, legs, and carefully around your earlobes to scare away any unsuspecting mosquitoes while camping. Mosquito buzzing is not only uncomfortable and unbearable, but mosquito bites can cause diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Both of which are painful to go through, so don’t forget to apply your bug repellent for camping.

Use Bug Repellent Coils, Diffusers, and Natural Insect Repellents

These are some options other than camp bug sprays. Once you burn bug repellent coils, they release chemicals and fumes that work as great bug repellents for camping. Diffusers can be charged with a portable charger or batteries. While these are pretty localized solutions, they do work well for gathering areas such as a table or cooking area.  

These make sure to spread around bug repellents in a certain radius so you can enjoy a night of peaceful sleeping—plants like sage, rosemary, and eucalyptus function as natural insect repellents. Bringing along a small pot of one of these plants might be a valuable thing to keep in mind while you’re packing your camping supplies.

Take Extra Care Of Hygiene and Cleanliness

The main things that attract bugs and insects are food, filth, and certain scents. Make sure you have supplies that will help you stay sanitary during your camping trip. Before you leave, make sure everyone is properly washed up with scentless bath products. 

Keeping antibacterial wipes and liquid hand sanitizer on you at all times is good for keeping bugs away. Make sure to dispose of disposable food containers in a way that is not harmful to the environment and far away from your camping site.

Smoke Is Good For Keeping Bugs Away

Campfires are not only good for making delicious barbeque and s’mores, but the smoke from a campfire can also be really great for keeping bugs away.  Keeping a few embers burning from your campfire while you’re hanging around outside can create enough smoke to repel mosquitoes while camping. However, make sure nobody sleeps too close to the burning embers as it may cause carbon monoxide poisoning or start a fire.

Another method to keep bugs away by making the campfire more potent is to add rosemary or sage to your fire. Sage is a natural insect repellent and works as a great big repellent for camping.

Citronella Oil and Citronella Candles

If you are skeptical about keeping a campfire burning but are confused about how to keep bugs away, citronella candles are a great alternative. Citronella oil is an essential oil derived from many species of Cymbopogon. It works as a natural bug repellent for camping. Citronella candles when burned release a pungent smell that repels bugs and mosquitoes while camping. This will protect you from camping bug bites while you sleep.

Product Recommendations For Your Next Camping Trip!

If you are new to camping and looking for recommendations for products to keep your first camping trip as bug-free as possible, here is a list of products to keep with yourself. Even if this is not your first rodeo, these few good suggestions might save you a lot of hassle and prevent you from making old mistakes!

Best Herbal Insect Repellent 

Amazon.com: All Terrain Herbal Armor Natural DEET-free Insect Repellent, Pump Spray, 4 Ounce: All Terrain: Health & Household 

This herbal insect repellent is highly effective and is the best herbal bug spray we’ve ever found. It’s incredibly effective for mild to moderate mosquito problems, but it is in the more expensive side when it comes to mosquito repellent options. The quality lives up to the price tag. This repellent is excellent for everyday use and is also suitable for the issue of preventing kids’ bug bites as it has no harmful chemicals like DEET. It will do a great job of keeping the mosquitoes away.

Best Light Duty Insect Repellent

Amazon.com: OFF! FamilyCare Insect & Mosquito Repellent Spritz, Unscented Bug spray with Aloe-Vera, 7% Deet, 9 oz: Health & Household  

If you’re looking for a lightweight insect repellent to use as a precautionary measure, look no further. However, keep in mind that this is only good for camping trips to areas where the threat of mosquitoes is few and far between. Infused with aloe vera gel, it will moisturize your skin. Great for everyday use and can be used to prevent kids’ bug bites as it is gentle.

For Heavy Duty Mosquitoes

Amazon.com: Coleman 100 Max 100% DEET Insect Repellent Spray – 4 oz : Health & Household 

This is the type of pungent and highly concentrated mosquito repellent you want to use if you’re planning to go camping in an area that is notorious for being infested with heavy amounts of mosquitoes. Although, this is not suitable for kids’ bug bite protection, it’s great for adults. This insect and mosquito repellent will make sure you have a great time on your camping trip without the fear of bugs and mosquitoes dampening your mood.

To Wrap It Up

If you follow these pieces of advice, your camping trip is sure to be filled with good memories only, and not just bug bites. Camping bug bites can dampen any good trip and overshadow the good memories by turning the mood sour. The health risks associated with living among insects and bugs are a whole other can of worms. Camp bug sprays and repellents are what keep bugs away, so don’t forget to pack them for your trip!

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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