16 Ways To Prevent Bug Bites While Camping
Summer is a great time to be outside and enjoy spending time in nature. Unfortunately, this also means that nature gets to spend some time with you! There are many insects that will take a bite at you if they get the chance, including mosquitoes, ticks, no-see-ums, horseflies, and spiders.
No one wants to deal with a nasty welt after a bug gets to you. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent bug bites ranging from chemical sprays to natural repellents.
Before you start spraying cans of insect repellent or rubbing oil on your arms, let’s talk about some preventative measures. If you can avoid the bugs altogether, you may not need to use a more aggressive tactic. If the bugs can’t get to you, they can’t bite you. There are a few things you can do to keep bugs out of your home, RV, or tent.
1. Cover all openings
The most simple step to prevent bug bites is to keep bugs out of your home. Of course, it’s hard to be 100% effective, but you can make it hard for them to enter by blocking off potential openings. Make sure that vents, windows, doors, and other openings around your home are blocked off with covers or screens.
2. Spray WD-40 around entries
Bugs aren’t fond of chemicals, and WD-40 is a good repellent for them. If your covers don’t seem to be keeping bugs out, try spraying WD-40 around the entryways to your home or RV.
3. Use bug nets and screens
When you’re camping, it can be harder to make a clear separation between your living space and the great outdoors. In these cases, bug nets and screens are handy. The mesh is woven so finely that bugs can’t get through, no matter how much they want to.
4. Keep doors and windows closed when possible
When it’s getting hot inside, it can be very tempting to open a window to let in a breeze. But if you can help it, avoid the temptation! Many bugs are active (especially at night) and they will happily fly into your home if they get the chance. If you keep the doors and windows shut, you will be able to block a lot of their entry attempts.
5. Use fans to blow them away
You probably don’t like to travel outdoors in a heavy wind, and bugs are the same way. If you have a fan in your RV, you’ll not only have better air circulation but you’ll make it harder for bugs to reach you. Rotating fans are particularly helpful because they can cover a wider area.
6. Use A/C and dehumidifiers
An RV A/C is a lifesaver when it’s hot out and you want to stay inside with the windows shut. Plus, many bugs are drawn to warm, moist environments. If you stay in a cold, dry area, you won’t be as appealing as a target.
7. Avoid standing water
Standing water is a perfect breeding ground for a variety of insects. If you have a pond, lake, or series of puddles close to you, try to steer clear of them. Mosquitoes and other bugs lay their eggs in standing water. You can help cut down on the population by cleaning water dishes, rain gutters, and other containers that might catch stagnant water.
8. Chemical bug repellents
Staying inside and using the aforementioned tips can help create a bug-free experience, but what should you do when you want to get outside and actually enjoy nature?
Chemical sprays and bug repellents are often the most effective ways to prevent bug bites. There are lots of different brands and options, but the CDC recommends looking for products that contain the following chemical bug deterrents:
- Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
9. Foggers and aerosol repellents
If you want a more widespread defense against bugs, you could also try using a fogger or some form of aerosol repellent. There are certain chemicals, smells, and fumes that insects will avoid, so if you are able to distribute them around your campsite, porch, RV, or living space, you can create a bug-free zone.
Mosquito foggers are tools that can apply a fine mist of insecticide into the air. This isn’t hazardous to humans and the effects are only temporary. But the insecticides will deter most flying bugs and can keep outdoor areas bug-free for days at a time. The downside to this method is that you will need to re-fog regularly and you run the risk of driving away helpful pollinating insects as well.
10. Burning herbs
Another tactic that will keep bugs away is burning herbs. Many insects are repelled by strong smells, so burning herbs can produce a sharp, powerful smoke that they will avoid. Sage and rosemary are two of the most common herbs to burn. If you have an outdoor fire pit, try tossing in a few leaves or bundles of these herbs from time to time.
11. Wood smoke
Speaking of burning things, smoke itself can keep insects away too. Many bugs will avoid smoky areas because they dislike the smell and fog in the air.
12. Wear long shirts and pants
If you don’t have access to other methods but want to avoid bug bites, you could also explore the possibility of bug-proof clothing. Dressing appropriately can help keep bugs away and protect your skin from bites, stings, and irritants.
Full-body coverings are a great way to stay safe from bugs. Although some insects can find a way to bite through clothing, many will be stopped before they make contact. Wearing long sleeves and pants is helpful, especially if they’re a bit loose. A bug could easily find itself biting into a fold of fabric rather than your skin.
13. Use tightly-woven fabrics
Some clothes might cover your skin, but are easy to penetrate. If the fabric is too soft or loosely woven, it won’t provide as much protection against a bug bite. Try to wear clothes with sturdy, tightly woven structures. Polyester and nylon are some good options to consider.
14. Try wearing insect repellent treated clothing
There are even some clothes that are specifically designed to ward off insects. These are treated with certain chemicals that make them repel bugs. You could even try buying a bottle of permethrin spray and applying it to your existing clothing (just avoid direct skin contact).
Some of the top brands are listed below, and some of their products claim to retain their insect-repellent potency for up to 70 washing cycles:
15. Use natural bug repellents
If you don’t care for chemical bug sprays, you could also try a natural insect repellent. There are lots of oils, scents, and substances that insects will avoid, and you can spray or rub them on your skin without worry. Essential oils or similar products are good to use because they are extremely potent.
Some natural remedies that bugs hate include:
- Lemon eucalyptus oil
- Catnip oil
- Soybean oil
- Cinnamon leaf oil
- Herbal oils (basil, sage, rosemary, lavender, peppermint)
16. Know what foods to eat and avoid
You can also keep bugs away by regulating what you eat. If you’re preparing for an all-day hike or outdoor picnic, you may want to incorporate some specific foods into your diet, while cutting others out.
- Extremely salty/sugary foods
Whether you eat these foods or just have them sitting out, either option can attract or deter bugs. Monitor the food around your living space and make sure that there’s nothing that will attract a swarm of hungry insects. This will help you avoid bug bites and maybe add some variety to your summer menu as well!
Find more tips from the RV community
RVers looking for valuable how-to information have learned to go to the experts. Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.