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keeping insects at bay while camping

Keeping Insects At Bay While Camping

How To Make Sure Insects Don’t Ruin Your Camping Experience

It can be quite irritating to deal with insects while camping even though they are, at the end of the day, a part and parcel of the outdoors and it is impossible to avoid them entirely. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make your camping experience as enjoyable as possible. Whether it is the location, the equipment you use or what to wear, the following are some things you can try out on your next camping trip to keep these little pesky insects at bay.

Stay Away from Wet or Damp Places

Most insects thrive in wet and damp environments, especially those that are low-lying. Hence, it is best to find a camping spot as far away from such places as possible such as stagnant waters or grassy areas. Camping on the elevated ground also helps to ensure that your campsite would be well-drained. 

 

Even though setting up camp near water can make for the perfect picture backdrop, it is best to do so at an appropriate distance away from water bodies such as river banks and lakes.

Choice of Clothing

One way to prevent insects from getting in direct contact with your skin is to choose long-sleeved clothes as well as long pants. You could even take it up a notch and spray down your clothes with insect repellent, especially at areas around your wrists, ankles and neck. 

 

There are clothes that have been pre-treated with insect repellent in the market and such special sprays are available as well for you to treat your existing gear. However, in general, using normal repellent works just as well.

Insect Nets

Keeping insects completely out of your tent should be your number one priority.  One way to achieve this is to always close the inner doors. This entails closing the door right after coming in and out of your tent, even for just a short while. Albeit troublesome, the benefits of having a night free from insects far outweigh its costs. 

Alternatively, you can also opt for mosquito nets if an inner mesh compartment does not come together with your tent. This can be used inside of the tent to protect yourself from bugs and insects. For added protection, you can use the nets that come already treated with insect repellents. You can also use free-standing nets that can come in useful for protecting young children while giving them a safe space to play outdoors at the same time.

Seal Up Your Food

Another important tip is to also ensure that all food items are covered and well-sealed using air-tight containers, boxes and zip lock bags or even in your car as these tend to attract all sorts of insects. 

 

Choose rubbish bins that are covered and regularly throw away your food waste and rubbish properly in the closed bins at your campsite before resting for the night.

Insect Repellents

There is a variety of chemical and natural repellents that you can use to keep the creepy crawlies away. With respect to chemical repellents, one of the more effective and widely used ingredients is N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or more commonly known as DEET.

 

Being a strong and hazardous chemical, DEET is extremely useful in repelling insects, and especially mosquitoes. Long-term exposure to DEET can be dangerous, it is safe so long as you follow the instructions on the insect repellent, such as not overusing it and ensuring that you wash it off thoroughly with soap and water after use. Insect repellents come in varying concentrations of DEET and thus, you should choose one that best fits your needs. 

 

If you’re looking for something non-chemical, lavender or citronella oils can be a good alternative. By applying a few drops on light bulbs and even on your clothing, you can effectively prevent insect bites. You can even do-it-yourself at home by using common household ingredients such as Avon Skin So Soft dry oil with citronella and Alfresco products. Additionally, there are also bands you can wear on your wrists or ankles that do the job just as well!

 

If the above insect repellents are not what you fancy, you can also use smoke, which is a natural repellent of insects. Coming in both natural and chemical versions, you can burn citronella, sage leaves, or coils, candles and oils respectively to help deter insects away. These are effective in little-no wind environments.

Avoiding Fragrances & Lights

Fragrance-scented products can attract insects and compromise the effectiveness of insect repellents and hence, it is best to not wear any of such products such as perfumes and scented deodorants or lotions.

 

Some insects are attracted to light and thus it is advisable to keep such things as far away from your tent as possible. This discourages insects from entering your tent so you can still get a good night’s sleep.

Keeping Wasps and Ants Away

Wasps and ants are especially attracted to food and sugars. Hence, it is important to ensure all food items are properly stored and/or disposed of. You can also create a wasp trap by putting a sugary substance at the bottom of a plastic water bottle and cut and invert the top half so create a funnel for the wasp to fall into the trap. This creates a trap that attracts wasps to the sugary substance and they would not be able to escape and eventually drown.

 

A more ethical way is to make a fake wasp nest out of brown paper bags and paper. Placing this away from your campsite helps to direct the wasp away from your camp.

Keeping Mosquitoes Away

Mosquitoes are attracted to body heat, carbon dioxide as well as chemicals such as lactic acid found in sweat. They lay eggs in stagnant water and are most active early in the morning or late at night. Thus, you should avoid camping near water bodies and wear covered clothing, especially at the mentioned times of the day. Using the different types of repellents and nets mentioned above can also be very useful. 

Treat mosquito bites with the appropriate creams and remedies available in the market and try no to scratch or irritate the bite as this might worsen the itch and even lead to an infection.

Keeping Midges Away

Tiny but mighty, midges are rampant in areas where the weather is warmer, and environments are humid and damp. Some examples include Western Scotland but can also be found throughout the UK. 

 

Similar to mosquitoes, midges are too attracted to carbon dioxide, sweat and certain bodily scents, are also most active at dusk and dawn and thrive in damp areas such as those with thick foliage or near water banks. While it can be helpful to avoid camping near such places, midges are sometimes more attracted to some people than others and thus it might be worthwhile to avoid such hotspots during midge season or cover up with light coloured clothing.

 

Another tip is to set up camp where it is windy and face your tent towards the wind so as to prevent your tent from opening up into a cloud of midges. Midges also do not fly fast so you should continue walking if you do encounter a swarm of them. 

There are several midge repellents in the market that are effective in keeping midges away and these range from scented to non-scented ones, from coils to candles. However, if you are bitten, using antihistamine creams would work best.

Avoiding Ticks & Slugs

Applying insect repellent that contains DEET or Permethrin is optimal for preventing tick bites. It is important to remain vigilant of any ticks clinging onto you and wearing light colours and keeping exposed skin to a minimum might help in this. Once bitten, remove the tick as fast as possible by holding the tick head as close to the skin as possible and pulling upwards without twisting it. After removal, watch out for the tick bite for about a month to ensure there are no signs of rash or redness as ticks can be carriers of Lyme, though it is quite rare.

As for slugs, it is not relatively as common but a beer trap can be set to mitigate this problem.

Conclusion

Insect repellents might not be for everybody but can be used as an effective complement to other measures taken to keep insects at bay. While DEET is effective, it is not entirely necessary, especially in the UK and other alternatives such as Citriodiol does the job just as well and is even less toxic. 

 

To ensure maximum effectiveness, reapply repellent at regular intervals and let sunscreen rest for 10 minutes. Try to also not apply perfumes or scented creams and lotions as well. 

While insects can be really irritating, hopefully, the above tips can mitigate this problem and maximize the fun at your next camping trip!

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Amy

Amy

Hi, I am Amy I have two loves in my life camping and writing. When I am not writing for The Expert Camper, I am usually camping. Lake District is my favourite spot, but really anywhere in the UK under canvas I am happy.

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