What’s not to love about the outdoors? You get to sit back, relax and take in the awe-inducing sights and scenes that have carved and spanned the earth since the beginning of time. However there’s one thing that’s always getting in the way of our peace and quiet, and that’s those pesky mosquitoes and other little buggers.
Just opt for some bug spray, right? Unfortunately, the EPA claims that many common household bug sprays have toxic chemicals that shouldn’t be inhaled, and are recommended to be washed off before returning indoors. So how do you keep the bugs off you while camping or backpacking without the use of standard household chemicals? There are many ways, but you’ll have to get a little creative!
Bugs have an innate fear of smoke because it means fire, aka instant death. We know that they hate the heat and smoke, so the campfire is a no-fly zone for them. However, we’ve got a trick that will keep them off you even after you leave the campfire - herbs! Throw some sage, eucalyptus or rosemary in your campfire, as the bugs can’t stand the pungent aroma. The herbal campfire smell will stick to your clothes long after the flame is spent, acting as a natural insect repellent.
Another method of repellent by fire are lanterns and candles, specifically citronella candles and tea lights. Scatter the lit candles and jars across your campsite keeping them in mason or jelly jars so they stay lit, and you’ll have every pest in range running (or flying?) for miles. This also adds a fun little ritual ceremony aesthetic to your campsite - and our next tip will surely have you feeling like a woodland wizard.
Potions, AKA Essential Oils
With the rise of essential oils in modern medicine, everybody and their grandmother is a regular alchemist these days. There’s actually a long list of these oils that act as great bug repellents that you can use in a homemade spray bottle mixture. Before we name just a few, here’s a base concoction to add to the oils of your choice:
- ½ Cup Witch Hazel
- ½ Cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon Rubbing Alcohol
Mix with 15-20 drops of any of the following essential oils: Eucalyptus, thyme, sage, catnip, lemongrass, tea tree, rosemary, mint, basil, clove or citronella (mosquitoes HATE citronella).
Always give the bottle a hearty shake before use, because the water and oils will naturally tend to separate. While you can apply the mixture to your skin, it’s better to spray on your clothes.
Fragrant Free Hygienics
This is the closest we can get to recommending products without spiraling into the myriad of bug nets and blocker gear. It’s been said that some of the fragrant, flowery scents that many common grocery store bodycare products have can actually attract pests. So, perfumed soap, deodorant, shampoo or other hair care products are best avoided.
Tom’s of Maine and Schmidt’s make great unscented deodorants, and there are plenty of other great alternative natural bodycare products like Acure’s Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes. The idea here is to stay off the pests radar!