I’m a camping enthusiast, and from experience, one of the valuable skills you could learn to pull through your trip is repelling mosquitoes and other bugs.
See, I’m a mosquito magnet and a frequent camper of the Everglades, AKA mosquito heaven, so I’ve had a fair share of the annoying buzz of these bugs.
The good news is I’ve a couple of tricks rolled up in my sleeve that keeps away these pesky bugs.
But the most useful tip I use to repel mosquitoes while camping is the bug sprays and creams. The mosquito sprays have DEET as their active ingredient, with fantastic bug-repelling properties.
Of course, it’s not a fool-proof method, and I usually use it alongside a couple of other bug-repellent techniques.
And if you’re wondering whether this is necessary, remember that while mosquito bites or stings alone may be harmless, in some cases, female mosquitoes may transmit diseases such as Zika, West Nile Virus Malaria, or Lyme.
For most of the population, though, or at least in my case, the buzzing and biting make these bugs nuisances. The itching is also a cause of annoyance.
Now, if you’re looking for ways to repel mosquitoes while camping, you’re in the right place.
Here, I’ll guide you on the different steps I use to repel these bugs.
22 Effective Ways to Repel Mosquitoes While Camping
1) Bug Sprays and Creams
One of the practical and effective ways of repelling bugs and mosquitoes is using traditional bug sprays and cream.
The most common and active ingredient across many mosquito repellent sprays and creams is DEET.
While there has been a lot of misinformation about the effectiveness of DEET, scientists have confirmed its efficacy.
DEET is also generally safe to use for most users, but I wouldn’t recommend it for kids under three. Some users also have had allergic reactions to DEET.
Also, their nascent smell and potential skin irritation make them less popular, especially for campers with sensitive skins.
If you need to use bug spray and cream, it helps if you would test a patch on your skin. It doesn’t help if the spray causes more harm to your skin than the mosquito bite.
If your skin doesn’t react or show signs of irritation, proceed to spray the effective mosquito repellent on your skin, clothes, picnic table, and your surroundings.
While applying, be sure to avoid eye contact with the bug spray or even smelling it.
Also, ensure your choice of insect repellent is waterproof so it doesn’t get washed away from water contact.
2) Essential Oils
If DEET doesn’t sound like your cup of tea and you don’t want to spray chemicals on your skin, essential oils can be a great natural alternative.
Essential oils are perfect, especially when you’re not visiting locations with high mosquito prevalence. The oils are also ideal for kids and users with more sensitive skin.
They draw their mosquito repellent properties from the aromatic volatile organic compounds naturally existing in plants. These oils evaporate easily and have a strong smell that keeps the bugs away.
Choose the old DIY methods or use off-the-shelf oils depending on your options.
The traditional DIY method simply involves burning plants to smoke the bugs out. Alternatively, you can hang bruised plants (lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, neem, or citronella) around your tent and camping ground to keep the critters out.
But if you feel the method is a bit crude, consider the off-the-shelf essential oil natural bug spray.
Natural essential oils include:
- Lemon eucalyptus oil
- Lavender oil
Create an essential oil bug spray by mixing half a cup of natural witch hazel or sunflower oil, a tablespoon of alcohol, and a half cup of water.
Shake the natural mosquito repellent before spraying on your clothes, skin, and surrounding, and it should keep the bugs out of sight and mind.
And depending on your choice of essential oil, you could keep from insect bites while still enjoying a nice scent.
3) Spray Vinegar
Vinegar is my preferred method of keeping mosquitoes, fire ants, and other insects from my campground.
Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are excellent natural bug repellents and create a ring of protection around you and your camping ground.
Bugs are usually repelled away by the overpowering scent vinegar produces.
So, you simply need to fill vinegar in a bug spray bottle before leaving for camp. Spray it on your skin, tent, and camp surroundings to deter unwelcome visitors. The bugs hate the overcoming vinegar smell.
The only challenge with using vinegar is that most humans don’t enjoy the smell of vinegar either, so it can be off-putting.
But, if you loathe the smell of vinegar, but are interested in the effectiveness of a natural-repellant vinegar, mix it with essential oil or dried aromatic herbs to reduce the smell.
Alternatively, mix the vinegar with some water to dilute the smell.
4) Wear Insect-Repellent Bracelets
The other way to mosquito-proof these critters away from your vicinity is by wearing bug-repellent bracelets.
Bracelets work by emitting repelling chemicals in your surroundings to keep bugs away.
This method is by far the easiest to use because you simply need to wear the mosquito repellent bracelets on your hands and forget about it.
If the bracelet is bothersome, you can fasten it on any object around your camp or tent. It should still emit the chemicals and provide protection.
But the biggest benefit, at least in my opinion, is these bracelets don’t need users to bug spray or apply creams on their skin. It can be a great option for kids since they can’t use the DEET products or even campers with sensitive skins.
5) Use Bug-Repellant Diffusers and Coils
The camping bug-repellent diffusers and coils work using the same principle as the mosquito coils at home.
Usually, the bug-repelling diffusers and coils have chemical compounds and essential oil, which diffuse into the air for bug protection.
Most of these diffusers and coils are powered by a battery and have a fan, which helps to diffuse the chemical compounds over a large area.
The most active and typical chemical ingredient in the bug-repellant diffusers and coils is Metofluthrin.
It’s a pyrethroid with insect-repellent properties.
According to research, the vapors of Metofluthrin are effective and often marketed as capable of repelling 84%- 97% of the mosquitoes in field tests.
I would recommend having a couple of these diffusers and coils spread across your campground for the best results.
6) Eat Garlic and Onions
What do mosquitoes and Dracula/vampires have in common?
They both hate garlic. No, a better word would be garlic deters them.
Now, whether the vampire part is fact or fiction, the truth is mosquitoes are put off by the presence of garlic, cloves, and onions. They can’t stand up to the smells these insect repellents produce.
There’re a couple of ways to use garlic and onions to keep them away.
An easy way is to consume the insect repellents and allow the smell inside out. Your skin and sweat will naturally have the onion smell.
Unfortunately, you need to take so much of the onions. So, an alternative is to rub them across your entire skin.
Yes, you might end up smelling like salad and even not be the most popular guys in the campground, but you’ll keep away the pesky critters and the bug bites.
It also doesn’t hurt to include the onions in your meals. The cooking alone infuses the air in the local vicinity with an anti-bug onion smell.
7) Swallow Garlic Capsules
If you can’t swallow the idea of rubbing onions and garlic all over your skin or even eating lots of them, consider a garlic capsule.
It’s a synthetic copy of the natural repellent found in onions, only that it’s more convenient.
Once you swallow the garlic capsule, your body will start secreting the pungent sulfur odor from your skin pores. It automatically repels mosquitoes and other bugs.
But keep in mind, as with the previous method, the smell may repel away fellow humans too.
8) Hydration is Key: Drink Lots of Water
Hydration is vital when camping, and drinking lots of water will save you from dry skin and a dry mouth.
But along with that, failure to drink sufficient water may result in overheating and lots of sweating.
The problem is that human sweat attract bugs. These critters can smell many compounds in your sweat, with some such as lactic acid and ammonia being particularly appealing.
Also, mosquitoes can’t resist motion and body heat, so if you feel like you’re about to sweat, take a dip in the water and allow your body to cool off.
9) Use Mint
I know most of us to have practical uses of mint, and we particularly love them because of their refreshing scent.
But as it turns out, mosquitoes hate the smell of mints and anything related.
So, keeping the smell of mint, including anything mint-family such as peppermint spearmint, in your campground is a great way to keep the bugs away.
And the good thing is there’re a couple of ways to create a minty environment in your campground.
Some of these ways include:
- Potting mint plants around your camp
- Popping mint gums regularly
- Using mint toothpaste
- Spraying mint mouthwash in your tent surroundings
10) Use Herbs
Herbs have a lesser role outside the kitchen and can also act as natural methods to mosquitoes.
Now, I already mentioned the use of essential oils, but you don’t always have to get them off the shelf. Herbs are natural repellents and are usually a great source of these oils.
Most of these herbs will emit a smell that repels the critters away.
Some of the herbs that will send the unwelcome friends are:
- Lemon eucalyptus oil
There’re a couple of ways to use these herbs, but you can start by simply hanging them around your camping location.
And if you’re looking for a more personal protection method, gently rub them in their natural state across your body.
11) Start Camping Fires and Light Candles
Lighting a fire is a practice that we will do once we arrive at the camping ground.
Apart from keeping warm and roasting some sandwiches, we also subconsciously keep the mosquitoes and other bugs away.
See, camping fire generates smoke, which in turn repels the mosquitoes and other critters away. The smoke clogs their breathing and masks any other attractive scents within the vicinity.
But if you’re more interested in lighting than the heat, choose a candle, preferably citronella candles.
It has a pungent smell that will have the critters packing while providing you with generous lighting.
I’d recommend scattering the citronella candles across your camping ground for maximum results.
Another great option is an insect-repellent lantern. I’m a big fan of lanterns because they provide heat and warmth while releasing repelling chemicals.
12) Avoid Fragrances and Scented Body Products
Bugs, like humans, find the scents from hygiene products irresistible.
Using scented toiletries may attract mosquitoes, ranging from shampoos, perfumes, soaps, deodorants to hair care products.
So, a good way to avoid becoming a target of bugs and mosquitoes is to avoid scented products. Don’t pack the scented toiletries on your next camping trip.
But if you’re like me, who can’t say without applying deodorant and shampooing my hair, pick the natural and non-scented options.
They serve the same purpose while keeping you from becoming a target of creepy creatures.
13) Wear Full-Cover Clothes
This tip is pretty self-explanatory.
Donning long sleeve shirts that cover your skin and body will minimize the chances of getting bitten by a mosquito or any bug.
Even then, mosquitoes can still bite through your clothing, so it’s not a fool-proof method. Plus, covering your skin can get pretty uncomfortable during the sunny sessions, so you’re likely to layer off.
A solution to this problem is spraying your clothes with a bug-repellent spray.
But my favorite option is investing in bug-repellent clothes. These clothes are naturally treated with a bug-repellent, so there is no need to go the extra mile of spraying. It saves campers from additional spray costs while eliminating the inconvenience of stick sprays on skin.
The final element is the choice of color. I know it may sound trivial, but research indicates that mosquitoes are more attracted to some colors than others.
Avoid the color blue, and instead, opt for khaki or color green.
14) Clean your Campsite
Mosquitoes, bugs, and even rodents are opportunists and will gladly jump at the opportunity of a free meal or drink.
So, a good way to keep mosquitoes away while camping is to ensure your campsite is always clean and doesn’t have a smell that may attract mosquitoes.
A clean campsite is also a bonus for the campers because it’s safe and will even keep the rodents and snakes away.
There’re a couple of things you can do to keep your campsite clean, but you need to primarily focus on ways to get rid of waste food.
- Ensure all the waste food is dumped in a tightly-closed bin
- Leave no food lying without a cover
- Always wipe your tables after a meal
- Wash your dishes after every meal
- Keep the tent clean
15) Close your Tent’s Zippers
Create a bug-free experience in your tent by closing the zips.
I know ventilation is important, especially during summer, but opening your zips might just provide the means for mosquitoes to access your space.
In particular, make a habit of closing the zips immediately you settle in for the night.
However, if you still need ventilation for your space, consider a tent with no-see-um mesh. It’ll provide a barrier against the nagging mosquitoes while offering excellent breathability.
16) Use Screen Rooms and Mosquito nets
An own screen room and a mosquito net is a nice way to keep the mosquitoes and bugs away.
It’s a large tent with screen-in walls that give you access to the comfort of nature, including the free flow of air and breathtaking sights while providing a shield against pesky insects.
A DIY screen room involves mounting mosquito nets onto poles or trees.
Understand the screen room and mosquito net need to stay closed at all times to keep pesky mosquitoes away while camping.
17) Consider a Bug Zapper
Bug zappers work by emitting ultraviolet light, attracting tiny insects and bugs.
The UV light is usually a decoy, and once the bugs get close to the zapper, they’re shocked using a high-voltage electric current to death.
It’s usually an effective method, especially in a localized location, and highly efficient.
The other plus with the zappers also doubles up like lanterns and will generate light for the campground.
However, they require batteries or electricity.
But a bug zapper’s greatest limitation is that they only work on bugs and biting insects attracted to ultraviolet light.
18) Use Electronic Bug Repellents
An electronic zapper is a great choice for bugs that a bug zapper won’t kill.
These zappers, however, don’t kill them but instead repel or deter mosquitoes.
As their name suggests, the electronic bug zappers emit high-frequency sounds that bother unwanted pests and help with insect protection.
The good thing with their working performance is the high-frequency sounds hardly affect humans and are, in fact, silent to the human ear.
19) Consider your Campground Lighting Options
Many insects and bugs are attracted to light.
Therefore, you can limit their presence in your vicinity by limiting the light or killing it altogether.
But understand lighting works both ways; it may attract some insects and repel some.
Mosquitoes are generally attracted to light, but you can challenge their detection abilities by using a yellow bulb.
Yellow light emits a less visible wavelength to mosquitoes, so they’ll struggle to locate you.
20) Choose a Smart Camping Location
I know it’s enticing to set up your camping tent close to the brooks and water. Convenient.
But remember, pooled and stagnant water can be a dinner bell for annoying mosquitoes. Here, they breed and lay their eggs as they develop into larvae.
So, it’s not a surprise to find bugs, especially mosquitoes, in sections with stagnated water.
My advice would be to keep away from such locations, which are typically at the valley’s base.
Instead, choose to camp on high ground and a location with good wind flow.
21) Throw Coffee Grounds in Stagnated Water
Sometimes, there’s little you can do on your choice of camping location, and you might find yourself near a pool of stagnant water.
Now, if you’re not keen, you could be in for a mosquito and bug invasion.
But it’s easy to avoid bugs by throwing coffee grounds to kill the mosquito larva before it hatches.
22) Burning Cow Poop
The final tip in my arsenal is throwing poop in your camping fire.
Alternatively, throw in some pieces of wet logs of wood.
The aim is to create as much smoke as possible to keep the bugs away.
Repelling Mosquitoes while Camping Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What colors repel mosquitoes?
A: Generally, yellow is the least attractive to mosquitoes since they can’t see clearly in this color. Orange and pink are also favorite colors and will repel bugs.
The favorite colors for mosquitoes and other insects are UV, blue and green. So, avoid using these lights in your campground.
Q: How efficient are mosquito bracelets?
A: They’re quite efficient, but you need to understand that none of the methods we’ve listed is 100% fool-proof.
Most methods cannot repel bugs independently but need to work collectively for the best results.
The bracelets are a great choice for kids and users with sensitive skins because it doesn’t require spraying the bug-repellent on skin.
I’ve listed a couple of tricks I use to repel bugs away while camping.
Some of the methods are more effective than others, and as I have just mentioned above, they work better when you use multiple methods together.
Remember that none of the tricks is 100% fool-proof, and while they’re effective most of the time, bugs might still get you.
So, along with the tricks, it’s always a good idea to bring some ointment on your next camping trip to relieve the mosquito bites and marks.
The final thing is whatever product you choose to use, ensure it’s approved by the Center for Disease Control, and should be EPA-registered.