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8 Best Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away When Camping

July 21 2020

mosquito and leaves

One of the more common complaints about the outdoors is the bugs. There’s spiders, bees, and ants, but the main culprit and hindrance to camping are mosquitoes. Buzzing in your ear and giving you that itching discomfort can pester you throughout a trip.

However, we’ve made a list of great tips to keep these tiny critters away from you, to keep you skin safe, and to make your trip fun the entire time.

Read on to find our best ways to keep mosquitoes away while you’re camping!

Things That Attract Mosquitoes

  • Body temperature and lactic acid - Mosquitoes respond to a rise in body temperature and an output of lactic acid. If you’re exercising outdoors or backpacking through the woods, you’re prime bait for these bloodsuckers.
  • Scents - Mosquitoes are known to like aromatic scents from deodorants and perfumes, but they also are attracted to a human’s body odor.
  • Peak Times of the Day - Most species of mosquitoes tend to be active at night, preferring cooler temperatures. Likewise, they are out and about during sunrise and sunset, and less during the heat of the day.
  • Peak Seasons - During winter, mosquitoes are found less frequently, as they rarely tend to go below temperatures of 50°F. After things thaw, they come out in late spring and early summer when there is an abundance of water flowing from winter in rivers and ponds. Then they hide away in late summer and fall to prepare for winter. Each region is different, so be sure to investigate your entire mosquito season on where you live and where you are traveling to.

  • Water Sources - Like most animals, mosquitoes need a water source to survive. Mosquitoes are known to prefer standing water, such as marshes and ponds. They also like slow rivers and lakes, or pretty much anywhere that has calm water.
  • Light - Most bugs are attracted to light sources. Mosquitoes first hunt by sight, so flashlights, headlights, and lanterns grab their attention, bringing them to you.

    Fun Facts About Mosquitoes

    • Female mosquitoes are the ones that bite as they need the protein from your blood for their eggs.
    • Eating bananas does not attract mosquitoes; it is an old wives’ tale. (On the flip side, there is no proof that eating garlic and onions repel them either.)
    • Mosquitoes hunt by sight, but are also attracted to the carbon dioxide people emit, especially when we start breathing heavily.
    • People’s genes factor into how “tasty” a person is and how often they are targeted for biting, but nobody knows why.
    • After having a beer, you are more likely to get mosquito bites. Again, nobody knows as to why this is the case.
    • Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, as you stand out more against nature.
    • Crane flies, better known to us as “mosquito hawks,” do not actually eat mosquitoes. They are really just indifferent, attracted to your lights and accidentally flying into your face.

      standing water


      Best Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away When Camping


      1. Setting Up Camp

      Try to set up camp away from standing water. This includes large puddles. Mosquitoes love a good waterfront and sometimes it’s best to camp away from the scenic lake to keep your skin bite-free.

      Additionally, they like water-rich terrain, such as tall grasses and land that requires a lot of moisture for vegetation and flora to grow. Try to set up your site in a drier area to minimize your contact with these bloodsuckers.

      2. Ditch the Scents

      Mosquitoes love the scents of the city. Deodorants, perfumes, and other scents that we think are pleasant are bullseyes for mosquitoes. Many times, I’ve been hiking and had the most mosquito bites near my armpits, on my shoulder blades and down my upper arms. If you’re backpacking, it may be best to try non-scent deodorant or even go without any of your city needs to not attract mosquitoes.

      Additionally, mosquitoes are attracted to your body odor. While this feels more like a lose-lose situation, they prefer body odor less. After a long day of hiking and outdoor activity in the sun, wash up and clean yourself to neutralize the scents you are emitting. This will keep the bugs away.

      Old wives’ tales say that eating bananas will cause you to produce mosquito-attracting scents while eating onions and garlic will do the opposite. These are not true and have no evidence, so no need to forego the potassium and make your breath smell putrid.


        fire and smoke

        3. Cozy Up by the Fire

        One of our greatest luxuries is one of our better repellents for our pesky enemies. Mosquitoes dislike the heat from fires that keeps us warm. But it really is the smoke that mosquitoes dislike. Although it is a large release of carbon, the smoke repels mosquitoes and having a bit of that scent on your clothes and skin can go a long way to repel these bugs.

          mosquito biting through clothes


          4. Bundle Up and Wear Your Clothes

          If you’re feeling like you’re getting devoured, try throwing on an extra layer. While mosquitoes can still bite through clothes, it can be more preventative in their success. The thicker the layer the better, and as the night comes and the temperature drops, more layers lead to better prevention against bites.

          If things are getting dire and the mosquitoes are buzzing in your ear, getting a head net that attaches to a hat is a way to layer up without getting too hot. Also, head nets permit you to wear them with protection and keep breathing freely, not smothering you.

          5. Chill Out in the Comfort and Safety of Your Tent

          Zip up and close your tent doors! If you need a slight reprieve from the bugs, your tent can be your sanctuary. Sometimes it’s nice to hole up for an hour and read in your tent, free from bugs. If you need some ideas to occupy this time, we have some game ideas for you (and some others if you’re feeling boozy.)

          If you’re camping without a tent, don’t forget to bring a mosquito net! Some hammocks come with nets to protect you while you must buy a net for others.


          camping lantern

          6. Go Easy on the Lights

          Mosquitoes, like most bugs, love light sources. Your flashlight, headlamp, and lanterns all attract mosquitoes, so try not to use these lights as much as you can. (Especially the head lamp with all those bugs flying in your face…)

          Instead, keep your fire as your primary light source when you can to drive the mosquitoes away instead of luring them in.

          7. Citronella Candles

          Citronella oil is a classic bug repellant that goes beyond mosquitoes. We recommend getting a bucket candle of citronella to push the mosquitoes away. While a candle isn’t crazy effective and is something that you cannot carry around, having one or two at your picnic table as you eat or prep food or play games is a great idea to keep the bugs away from your face.

          A mosquito coil, another campground classic, is also a great alternative to citronella. Made out of pyrethrum powder, mosquito coils act as a slow-burning mosquito-repelling incense for your tabletop. They also look kind of cool, too.

          8. Bug Sprays: Chemical and Natural

          You can’t go wrong with bug spray and it is probably the most effective, direct way of preventing bugs. DEET-based bug sprays are very effective and probably the most common since the 1940’s. You probably know the scent if you’ve been outside and used it before.

          If you’re looking for a more skin-friendly chemical, Picaridin an alternative to DEET that is odorless and less greasy on your skin. Also, while DEET can dissolve and have detrimental effects to your clothing, Picaridin is less corrosive to your threads.

          Looking to ditch chemicals? Lavender, lemon eucalyptus oil, thyme oil, soybean oil, citronella (as mentioned above), and others are known to combat and ward off bugs. Looking to make an all-natural chemical-free homemade spray? Check out this recipe.

          We also recommend getting waterproof bug sprays. When you sweat in the outdoors or splash in the water, most oils and sprays can run off your body.

          Mosquitoes don’t have to ruin your time in the outdoors. With our eight tips, you can keep the bugs away and get on with the good times at your campsite. Did we miss any ideas or forget any natural ingredients to ward off mosquitoes? Please leave your ideas and remedies in the comments section!