Bugs. The name alone makes one's skin itch and conjures up images of buzzing swarms and annoying, creepy-crawly pests. They're unavoidable on a camping trip, and you can bet they'll be at your next campsite whether you're ready for them or not.
Here are some tips to help you endure the insect infestation while still enjoying the wonders that the wilderness, with all of its beauty and buzzing swarms, has to offer.
Get the Door
If the bugs—particularly mosquitoes, black flies, ticks and ants—are bad at a campsite, oftentimes the only refuge is your tent. As a result, it becomes vital that you always keep the tent doors and screens zippered shut. This is not limited to the daytime; remember to also close the door behind you if you have to leave the tent during the night for nature's calling. It's also not a bad idea to shake and shimmy a bit before entering the tent, as this will remove any bugs that might already be clinging to (or sucking at) your skin.
Use Waterproof Bug Spray
Many bug sprays and repellents contain DEET, an oily chemical that works wonders at keeping away mosquitoes and ticks, but also might cause health problems like seizures. The jury is still out on the extent of the hazards, but as a precaution, try to use bug spray with DEET levels below 30-percent. And while you're browsing the fine print on the labels for the amount of DEET, also check to make sure your bug repellent is waterproof. Like sunscreen, your bug spray will be worthless if it doesn't stand up to sweating or splashing around in a lake or river.
Be Mindful of Your Scent
There are a lot of scientific (and not-so-scientific) opinions about what attracts bugs to certain people. Diet, body type, gender and blood type have all been thrown into the discussion about possible factors. Most agree that bugs are particularly attracted to overly fragrant hygiene products like perfume, soap, shampoo, aftershave and deodorant. We're not advising you to necessarily go full-blown au naturel the next time you're camping, but consider buying hygiene products that are free of artificial or botanical fragrances or, better yet, completely unscented.
Be Ready After the Storm
Mosquito eggs are laid in moist settings, and they hatch into larvae that mature in water. In other words, mosquitoes need water in order to start their lives, so you can expect an influx of bugs following rainstorms. Post-rain is when eggs will hatch, and that's when the woods will be the buggiest. As you might imagine, you're in for an even buggier experience if your campsite is near a place that is always wet, like a swamp or a bog. To combat this, always choose a campsite that is high and dry.
Don't Let Your Trash Stack Up
Letting your trash pile up, especially if you'll be at a campsite for days on end, is like an open invitation for ants and other insects. Dispose of any leftover food properly—if eating it all is not possible, then by bury it or seal it in plastic bags in accordance with your campsite's rules. On a side note, animals much larger than tiny insects, like raccoons or bears, might also be interested in any lingering trash piles, so smart storage and disposal of waste makes for smart camping on a number of levels.
Reserve a campsite