It can generally go without saying that bugs aren’t exactly welcome anywhere. Whether it is in your home, at your campsite, or even in your car on the way to the campgrounds, there’s a good chance that you aren’t going to want any bugs joining you.
Some people simply don’t like bugs because their presence is bothersome. Some people dislike bugs because they can be terrifying to some people.
No matter the reason why you want to make sure that you have a bug-free camping experience, there are quite a few things you are going to have to do to prepare for it. While it isn’t exactly possible to eradicate all bugs from your camping experience, it is certainly possible to make sure that you remove as many of them as you can.
Before you begin looking into bug removal and ways to make sure that you are keeping bugs out of your tent, you are going to want to know a few things beforehand.
First things first, you should get an idea of the bugs that you will most likely be dealing with. This will help you know how to combat the bugs, as well as be prepared to encounter any bugs that you might be scared of or allergic to.
Once you know this, you will be ready to start preparing yourself to pack for a bug-free camping experience. With enough time and preparation, you will surely be able to have an enjoyable time camping without having to worry about bugs ruining your time.
Knowing Which Bugs You Are Going to Face
There are really only a handful of bugs that you are going to face on most camping grounds. Keep in mind that if you are going somewhere out of the way, there is more of a chance that you will face tougher and different pests.
For the most part, you will be dealing with pests that fall into the following list:
Many people know and expect there to be mosquitoes, especially during the warmer seasons of the year. The same applies to bees, but thankfully, bees are far less common in the colder months, unless you happen to disturb a nest of them.
Unfortunately, flies, spiders, and ants are pretty hardy and common throughout the year. These are the pests that you are going to need to be the most mindful of when you are trying to make sure that you are packing for a pest-free camping trip.
With that being said, this is just a short list of the most common pests campers deal with, and it might differ depending on your specific location.
Knowing what bugs you have to deal with is going to help you considerably when it comes to looking at pest repellents. The type of repellent that affects one type of bug might not affect others, meaning that you are going to want to do some research on what kind of repellents work best for the pests in your area.
Additionally, knowing what to expect can help you prepare yourself if you are allergic to any of these bugs, or if you simply do not want to see them.
What Can You Do Before Camping?
Now that you have an idea of what you might be dealing with, it comes time to try and combat any bugs that might try to hamper your camping experience. Before you get everything packed up and you are out the door, there are actually a handful of things that you should be doing before you leave the house.
For one, you should try and make sure that you are not eating any salty foods or anything that is rich in potassium. These foods produce lactic acid, which is actually what attracts mosquitoes.
Some mosquitoes can sense the lactic acid from over 100 feet away, which is something that you are going to want to be conscious of when you are eating the night before you leave.
Similarly, you are going to want to make sure that your tent doesn’t have any tears, holes, or places that a bug might be able to find its way into. Thankfully, it is quite simple to check for this.
You are first going to want to take your tent outside, and then you are going to want to go over all of the seams to make sure that there is nothing out of place. While doing this, you should also make sure that any and all zippers zip up properly.
If you find that there are holes in the tent, you will need to repair them as soon as you can before you decide to go camping. Depending on the location and size of the hole, this should be easy enough to fix. You simply don’t want to risk having a bug thinking that it is an acceptable entrance into your tent.
Likewise, if you find that there are any zippers that aren’t zipping up all the way, you will want to do what you can to fix this. In some cases, you might need to find some zipper lubrication. Other times, you might need to replace the zipper entirely.
No matter what you need to do to the zipper, it will be well worth it in the end when you don’t have to worry about bugs finding their way into your tent in the dead of night.
When you eventually leave the house and get to your campsite, there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure that there is as little of a chance as possible for bugs to get into your camping area.
Before you know it, you will be able to have as close to a pest-free experience as you can possibly get.
Avoiding the Places with Bugs
It can also go without saying that when you are at the campgrounds, you will want to avoid all the places that tend to have bugs. By knowing where most bugs hang out, you can make sure to set up your tent as far away from them as possible to ensure a more comfortable camping experience.
You should always, always try to avoid stagnant water, as this is a breeding ground for a whole host of insects. From mosquitoes to gnats and just about everything in between, stagnant water is one of the worst places you could set your tent up near, no matter how beautiful a creek or a lake might look.
If there is one thing that you should prioritize avoiding over everything else, it should be stagnant water.
Besides avoiding water, you will also want to make sure that you aren’t setting your tent up directly underneath any trees. Many bugs make trees, leaves, and tree trunks their home.
If there is someone setting up a tent underneath their home, there’s a good chance the bugs will come out to investigate, and this is something that nobody really wants to have happen. This means that while you might want some cover from the leaves, you aren’t going to want to set up your tent directly in the middle of a forest.
Likewise, you should avoid dense vegetation for the same reasons. A lot of bugs like the cool, dark atmosphere of dense vegetation, and when someone disturbs that home by setting up a tent there, nothing good is going to happen.
In general, you should aim for a clearing of land that doesn’t have too many trees or shrubbery that bugs would be hiding in when you are setting up your tent.
You are also going to want to try to stay away from light poles. A lot of bugs, most notably moths, are directed toward artificial light sources when the sun goes down.
While it might be nice to have that light source at night, it is certainly going to be a lot less nice when you have countless bugs trying to get inside your tent because you set it up underneath a light source.
Instead, you should try to find a windier area to set your tent up at, as long as the weather permits for this extra windchill you will be getting. By choosing to set up your tent in an area that gets a lot of wind, you will be making it much harder for the insects to be able to hover in the air near your tent.
To make things even better for yourself, you can also turn the entrance of the tent toward the wind so that the bugs can’t even get inside.
Now that you know more about how to avoid bugs while you are setting up your tent, you can learn a little bit more about how to keep bugs away from your tent once it is set up. This process is thankfully a very easy one, and it is something that just about everyone should be able to handle.
Making Your Tent Uninteresting for Bugs
The next step on your list should be to make sure that your tent is a place that no bug is going to really have an interest in. Thankfully, there are only a few things that will draw out bugs, so it will be pretty easy for you to take care of this.
For one, you will want to make sure that you have absolutely no food out. This includes making sure that when you eat, you are not leaving crumbs anywhere. Even the smallest bit of food can attract a curious ant or fly.
When and after you eat, you will want to make sure that you thoroughly clean up the area to completely prevent any crumbs from lingering.
If you are planning to bring food with you, you will want to make sure that you bring the food in airtight containers. If the bugs can’t smell or sense the food in any way, then they will have no reason to invade your tent to try and get to it.
If you do not have any airtight containers to put your food in, this would be a great opportunity to invest in them, as they are something that just about every camper should have.
If you plan on cooking food at the campsite, whether it is freshly caught or you are just heating something up that you brought along with you, you will want to make sure that you clean off your cooking utensils.
Dirty cooking utensils can be just as attractive to a bug as crumbs can, giving you all the more reason why you should at least wipe off the utensils with a dirty rag before putting them away for the night.
Finally, you will want to make sure that you do not have any bags of trash, especially food trash, laying around in your tent. The smell of food can even attract larger pests, such as racoons, and nobody really wants to fight a racoon over a bag of trash.
If you do have trash, you can get rid of it in one of two ways. You can either burn the trash (assuming that it is burnable), or you can dispose of it safely in a designated area on the campgrounds.
Employing these methods of making your tent extremely uninteresting for bugs will ensure that you will be able to eat and sleep comfortably without having to worry about bugs invading your personal space.
Using an Alternative Light Source
One issue that many campers have is that artificial light sources tend to attract bugs, and when you are trying to keep bugs away, you might feel at a loss as to what you can do. Thankfully, there are still a handful of things that you can do to make sure that you are going to have enough light to do what you need to do.
First, you will need to make sure that you remove all the light sources that are attracting bugs to your campground. Any lanterns, lamps, and other lights that you have will need to be turned off.
Even if they are sitting outside of your tent, making your campsite easy to find, you are going to have to find something else to make sure that your camping experience remains pest-free.
Instead of using flashlights to find your way around the outside of your tent, you should make sure that you only bother using the light when you are inside of your tent and you know that the doors are zipped up.
Keep in mind that as long as the doors are zipped shut, there won’t be any way that the bugs will be able to get into the tent. Instead, they might decide to hover around outside of the tent, which may not be particularly pleasant.
Another alternative light source that you can use would be to simply use a lit torch to see your surroundings. For some people, a campfire might be a better alternative.
The smoke from the fire will also be an excellent deterrent when it comes to keeping bugs away from your campgrounds.
With this being said, you must always, always make sure that you put out the fire before you go to bed or before you step away from it. This will keep the forest and campsite safe and prevent wildfires.
Repelling the Bugs as Best You Can
Of course, it is sadly inevitable that there are going to be bugs whenever you go camping. This is simply a part of being with nature.
Thankfully, there are plenty of products out there that you can choose from that will help you deal with these bugs. Many of these products are meant to repel bugs, keeping them away from you for the entirely of your camping journey.
There are many different bug repellents that you can choose from, and the one that suits you best will depend on many different factors. Some repellents are more versatile and applicable to the skin, whereas others can be homemade and easier to purchase.
Some repellents you can ingest, whereas other repellents can come in the form of a candle, becoming a light source as well. Finding the right repellent for you will take some time and effort, but it will absolutely be worth it in the end.
One thing to think about are citronella candles. These are an excellent thing to bring on just about any camping trip. Not only do they serve as a source of light and heat, but they also dissuade bugs from ever thinking about hanging out around them.
If you have sensitive skin or a sensitive nose, you won’t have to worry about this repellent nearly as much either. If you are big into making products yourself, you could even make your own citronella candles, if you wanted to.
Another bug repellent that you will want to think about is vinegar. While it isn’t the most charming repellent out there, it absolutely gets the job done at not only repelling the bugs, but killing any of the ones that are too stubborn to leave your tent.
Bringing a couple jars of vinegar is an inexpensive and easy way to keep bugs away from your tent without having to apply any product to your skin.
Speaking of products that you don’t have to necessarily apply to your skin, there is such a thing as garlic capsules. While most people will decide to hang garlic or onions outside of the tent to let the foul smell dissuade pests, some people take things a step further and actually ingest a capsule of garlic.
This allows the scent to seep through the pores of your skin, repelling both annoying people and pests.
If you are interested in repellents that you can keep with you, you might want to think about the idea of using a repellent bracelet. There are plenty of repellent bracelets out there, some of which are designed to repel specific types of pests.
If you do not mind wearing something on your skin, then this might be a more suitable solution for you. These are especially useful if you do not want to encounter any bugs while you are out hiking away from your tent.
As for making sure that your tent is bug-free, you might want to think about spraying down the exterior of the tent with a sprayable bug repellent. If you are sensitive to the smell of the repellent, this might not be the best solution for you.
Otherwise, many people find that this does an excellent job of keeping pests out of the tent and far, far away.
Last, there are a few different types of repellents that you can apply to your own body. Everyone knows about the sprays that you can find in just about any outdoor goods store, but there are a few others besides that.
For instance, there are bug repellent creams as well. Some people find these to be more useful than the sprays, as you can apply them more liberally to the body.
You can also apply bug creams to your face without nearly as much risk of getting chemicals in your eyes, nose, or mouth, making it useful during the summer when you don’t want to come home with mosquito bites all over your face.
Finally, there is the last type of bug repellent that you can use on your quest to have a bug-free camping experience: homemade insect repellent. These repellents can work quite well, depending on what you use as the actual repellent, and the concentration of it within the solution.
There are several different kinds of herbs that you can mix, match and choose from to make a homemade repellent from. Some people even find that these repellents are much nicer on the nose than the store-bought variants.
There are a few different categories of herbs that you can use. You can use strongly scented herbs, such as the following:
- Tea tree oil
Because of the strong, and relatively tolerable, scent that these herbs offer, you might find that they provide a more versatile solution as a bug repellent than something that you can find at the store. They are incredibly easy to make as well.
All you really need is about 10 to 20 drops of liquid extract of the herb you are using, mixed with water, and poured in a spray bottle. Before you know it, you will have everything you need to enjoy a pest-free camping experience.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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