The fact of the matter is that the woods are full of bugs. Some things that you can do to make sure they stay away without the use of bug spray are:
- Keeping a clean campsite – do not leave food out and dispose of trash daily. If that’s not an option, keep your trash locked up.
- Set up camp away from stagnant water – wet, grassy areas are also places to steer clear of.
- Keeping bright lights away from your person– bugs/insects (i.e., mosquitoes and gnats) are attracted to bright lights. Setup your lanterns surrounding the perimeter of your campsite, not next to where you’re sitting.
- Camping without cologne/perfume – keep the fragrances at home. In the woods, they make you a homing beacon for insects. Instead, wear unscented deodorant.
- Wearing light colored clothing – dark colors attract insects.
- DEET– an active ingredient in insect repellants that is extremely effective against mosquitoes and ticks. The higher the percentage of DEET, the better the effects of insect protection. (DEET toxicity has been associated with adverse health effects, and while rare, it’s information that you as a user should know about. For more information, go to: ATSDR
- Permethrin- the best preventative measure against insects/bugs/ticks/mosquitoes. Watch the video below for more details.
- Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
- Peppermint Oil
- Burning Sage
- Citronella Candles/Oil
- Tea Tree Oil – 1 part tea tree oil to two parts water in a spray bottle. Spray on socks, shoes, and bottom of pants (protects against mosquitoes).
Permenthrin is the best repellant against ticks. It doesn’t just repel ticks, but kills them, whereas DEET only drives them away. Another good thing about permenthrin is that it doesn’t harm fabrics and becomes odorless when dry.
Other preventative measures against ticks:
- Tuck your shirt into your pants.
- Wear long socks over your pant legs.
- Wear a hat.
- Check for ticks after a walk/hike in the woods.
For more information about ticks and the diseases that they can transmit, check out the Center for Disease Control.
For preventative measures on other problems that may arise in the woods (Poison Ivy, Bears, Sunburns), head over to Outdoor Afflictions.