How to Keep Bugs Away While Camping: Complete Guide

How to Keep Bugs Away While Camping

Imagine this: you’ve been yearning for a serene getaway in the woods. You have your gear packed, you’ve taken time off work, and the campsite you have picked looks like it is straight out of a dreamy movie scene. You reach there, set up your tent, and just as you are about to sip on that well-deserved cup of cocoa under the stars, a mosquito buzzes by… and then another… and then another. Does that ring a bell? Well, you’re not alone, and this guide is going to help you understand how to keep those bugs at bay when camping. Buckle up!

Types of Bugs Commonly Found at Camping Sites

Many of us have experienced the uninvited bug-guests, haven’t we? Although those experiences weren’t pleasant, they aroused a sense of curiosity. ‘Why are bugs so interested in my campsite? Who are they and what do they want?’ These might be the questions swirling around in your brain right now. Let’s shed some light on the who first.

The most common bugs you’d encounter on a camping trip include mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and ants. These little creatures have the nasty habit of spoiling any outdoor fun. But that’s not it; the diverse ecology of outdoor spaces means that in some regions, you might have to deal with additional creatures like bees, wasps, spiders, and even scorpions! Now that probably sounds scary, but remember, knowledge is power. Understanding what you’re dealing with is the first step in keeping them at bay.

Bugs at campsites

Why Bugs are Attracted to Your Camping Site

Now that we know who our tiny party crashers are let’s understand why our campsite looks like a five-star bug resort. The trio of food, water, and shelter that your campsite provides is hard to resist for bugs. Coincidentally, we humans are pretty good at unintentionally providing delicious food sources for bugs. Open food cans, crumbs, litter – they draw in curious bugs looking for a free meal. Add to that the attractive glow of lanterns and body heat, and you have a full bug fiesta.

These pesky bugs aren’t showing up just to annoy you (even if it feels like it). Understanding their motivations can provide helpful insights for effective countermeasures. Scared? Don’t be! In the next few sections, we’ll discuss how to prepare beforehand, what to do during camping, and the steps you can take after the trip to avoid such situations in the future. Stick with me!

Pre-Camping Preparations

Believe me when I say this, the best game plan to keep bugs at bay starts at home before your camping trip actually begins. It’s all about clever tent and gear selection, as well as some simple pre-treatments.

Choosing the Right Camping Gear

Your choice of camping gear can be a huge game-changer when it comes to bugs. Now, I’m not telling you to dump all your existing gear right away. However, when it’s time to update your stash, consider investing in bug-resistant camping gear. Tents, sleeping bags, nets, and hammocks come with special bug-resistant features these days. These items have fine mesh screens that prevent bugs from getting in while allowing you to enjoy the wild view.

Additionally, wearing the right attire can also help. Long pants and shirts, hats, boots, and gloves can help protect the skin from direct exposure to bugs. Light-colored clothing is generally more attractive, as bugs are less likely to spot and approach them but remember, it’s functionality over fashion when it comes to camping gear!

Pre-treatment of Camping Gear

Pre-treating your camping gear with Permethrin is a widely accepted means of keeping insects away. Permethrin is an insecticide used for treating nets, tents, and other camping gear. When bugs come into contact with it, they get repelled or killed. So, when you’re applying this to your camping gear, you’re basically setting up a force field against those bugs even before arriving at the campsite.

Remember, you must let the treated gear dry thoroughly before use, and it’s always smart to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Spot testing on a small area first can ensure it doesn’t damage your gear.

Pre-Camping Preparations

During Camping: Bug-Proof Strategies

Alright, so you’ve prepared your gear, and you’re now standing at your picturesque campsite. What next? Let’s talk about the things you can do to keep those little critters away once you’ve set foot into their territory.

Efficient Campsite Selection

The first line of defense here is choosing your campsite wisely. You might feel drawn to the banks of a pretty stream, but remember, stagnant water bodies are mosquito heaven – so it could mean more bugs. Try to set up your camp in a breezy area, if possible. Why, you ask? Simple. Mosquitoes are not the best flyers in windy conditions.

Also, avoid camping under lamps or any bright lights, as these attract bugs during the night. Look for a spot where insects, especially the biting ones, are less likely to frequent, such as places away from dense vegetation or marshy areas.

Keeping Your Campsite Clean

I can’t stress this enough – Keeping your campsite clean is critical! A clean campsite not only looks good but also helps keep bug-attractors like food wastes and spillages at a minimum. That packet of crisps you enjoyed can invite a series of ants if not properly disposed of. Pack all the trash and store it somewhere bugs can’t access.

Proper Food Storage

How you store your food directly influences the number of bugs you’ll see at the campsite. Store food in airtight containers or coolers when not in use. The stronger the smell is, the further it will travel, and the more insects it’ll attract. Also, try not to leave food out for extended periods.

Using Scents to Deter Bugs

Bugs follow their senses, and how we smell can be a bug magnet. Try to avoid using strong cologne or perfumes. They can also attract bugs. Opt for bug repellents instead. Spray them on your clothes and around your camping area, but do read the instructions as some can harm you or the environment if misused.

Bug-Proof Strategies

Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping

We have a treasure trove of natural resources at our disposal that can be effective bug deterrents. Here’s what you can do to keep bugs away the natural way while camping.

Using Essential Oils

Some plants produce scents known to repel bugs. Bless those plants, right? And thank the universe for essential oils! They are extracted from such plants and can be a safe, environmentally friendly way to deter bugs.

For instance, citronella oil (usually found in candles or torches) can ward off mosquitoes, while lavender oil works amazingly against ticks and black flies. Peppermint oil is a broad-spectrum insect repellent and works against most bugs you’ll find at camping sites. Apply these on your clothes or skin per the instructions, but make sure to test for allergic reactions beforehand.

Citrus Peels

Surprisingly, a lot of bugs hate citrus! So the orange or lemon peels that we generally consider waste can be used to our advantage when camping. Strategically place these peels around your campsite to deter those pesky bugs. Pro-tip: For maximum effectiveness, rub the inside of the peels around your tent’s entry points.

Herbs and Plants

Lastly, certain plants, when grown or merely present around us, act as natural bug repellents. Plants like lemongrass, marigold, and citronella are known for their bug-repelling properties. If you’re lucky enough to be camping near these plants, remember they’re not just there to make the landscape pretty!

However, don’t ruin or uproot them. It’s essential to respect nature while enjoying its benefits. After all, we’re guests in the wild!

Essential Oils


Camping trips are meant to be enjoyable, serene, and a chance to connect with nature, not an open invitation to bugs! But as we’ve seen, bugs are a part of nature and they shouldn’t deter you from experiencing the great outdoors. Remember, information and preparation are your firm allies. Understanding the kinds of bugs you may encounter, their habits, and why they might be attracted to your campsite is your first line of defense.

The keys to a bug-free camping experience often boil down to careful pre-camping preparation, strategic actions during camping and vigilance post-camping. Using bug-resistant gear, pre-treating your equipment, positioning your campsite wisely, maintaining cleanliness, and using natural bug deterrents can make your camping experience much more pleasant. You shouldn’t neglect your gear when you return home, either. A thorough clean-up and inspection ensure that no bugs hitch a ride back into your home. So gear up, keep these tips in mind, and let not the fear of bugs stop you from exploring the wild!