Take a hike! No, really, it will do you good. Getting outside can help reduce the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. But the great outdoors is also the realm of the deadliest animal: mosquitoes. So along with the great benefits of the great outdoors comes the great challenge of cohabitating with mosquitoes–on their turf.
Any camping trip deserves meticulous planning. What to bring, what gear to buy, what to leave at home, etc. We suggest making these mosquito protection hacks part of your prep!
Before You Leave Home
Packing for a camping trip can be a fun, creative challenge. What items can have the biggest impact with the smallest footprint? To help you fight the bite, we recommend packing these must-have necessities:
- Long sleeves, pants, and nets: Lightweight clothes that cover a majority of your skin will serve you best. You can also treat your clothes, shoes, and other gear with permethrin, a repellent very well suited to treat outdoor gear. While a net over your neck and face might not be your desired fashion statement, it will certainly keep you bite-free.
- Fabric softener dryer sheets: This secret weapon hits the sweet spot because it doesn’t weigh anything, chances are you already have it, and can be used anywhere. Tuck them in your pockets and under any tablecloths or plates to keep your dinner swarm-free.
- Essential oils: Another item with a small footprint with a big impact is essential oils. There are lots of different applications, so do some research and pick which one works best for you!
- Fan: Mosquitoes aren’t great fliers, and they tend to avoid any area that makes them feel disoriented. A personal fan or a tent fan could help keep you cool on hot summer nights and help keep that buzzing out of your ear, too!
- Sage, garlic, and rosemary: Rosemary can help keep the mosquitoes at bay and add a delicious flavor to your campfire meal. Burning dried sage is another great hack. Eating garlic or just roasting it on the fire can help, too!
- Insect repellent: An excellent reminder from outdoor outfitter, REI: “Repellents do not actually repel mosquitoes. They create a vapor barrier atop skin and mask or scramble the signals of attraction that humans emit. Researchers at the University of Florida speculate that human skin produces 300 or so chemicals, and one individual’s mix may be more attractive to mosquitoes than other person’s. This means you may find one insect repellent very effective, and a friend may have great results with a different repellent.” Check out REI’s local outdoor classes and workshops, one of which is on mosquito prevention!
While On Your Adventure
- Choosing home sweet home: The first step on your adventure might be choosing your campsite. Keep a few things in mind. Look for a clearing with plenty of sun. If you can find a spot with some natural breeze, even better. Mosquitoes love any place that’s shady, cool, damp, and filled with nooks and crannies. They can only fly about a mile an hour, so put plenty of space between your home and theirs!
- Setting up camp: It might seem obvious, but make sure to zip and secure anything you can on your tent. Make sure to set up your fan first to make a no-fly-zone during set up.
- Dinner time: Chances are your grill will release some added carbon dioxide into the air. Since that’s what attracts mosquitoes, make sure your grill is as far away as possible from other people in your group. Don’t forget the rosemary!
- The cleaner the better: Cleaning might be a buzzkill, but it’s a great way to ensure less buzzing around your campsite. Bugs (not just mosquitoes) are attracted to food waste, so clean and dry as soon as you can.
- Fire it up: Some veterans of the outdoors swear by a technique called “smoking” their clothes—which basically just means hanging them in a location to increase their smoky scent.
- Feeling handy? Check out our How To: DIY Mosquito Trap hack. All you’ll need is a camping knife, an empty two-liter bottle, some water, and a packet of yeast!
Don’t let mosquitoes keep you from enjoying your next camping trip! With some basic knowledge about these pests, you and your family can stay protected at home and on your next adventure!
 University of East Anglia. "It's official -- spending time outside is good for you." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htm>.