Insects are a fact of camping life but that doesn’t mean you need to retire inside the moment evening sets in. Here are some top tips to keep those blighters in the background when you’re camping out on the tracks.
Helpful Consumer Habits
How attractive you are to insects will vary according to your chemical make-up and build, with some factors beyond your control but avoiding lactic acid-inducing salts and high potassium foods in the short-term can help if you’re frequently stung.
Fragrances attract bugs, so think about the soaps, perfumes or washing powder you take and use at camp. And that includes your choice of sunscreens too.
Insect screens are a great first defence for your RV or tent but you need to be vigilant if you’re to minimise the chances of the blighters getting in. Likewise with screened annexe walls, which otherwise work well when teamed with other insect-proof barriers.
Circling your site with ant sand will save your ankles but don’t forget to seal your rubbish and food. Also, think about your location, is there stagnant or even standing water nearby? Rubbish afield? And what’s sheltering within the bush?
Watch The Light
Bugs of all types are attracted to white light, so incorporating orange or yellow globes into camping setup will lower its appeal. Failing that, covering your lights with yellow chux or cellophane will work equally well, too.
These strategies work best when deployed at the first sign of bugs but you can steer them away from camp by fitting a bright white light upwind, too.
What To Wear
Seasoned travellers know light-coloured cotton long sleeve pants and shirts and long socks are a great shield against bugs so long as they’re thick enough for bighters to not break through. And in places where bugs are a real nuisance, a screened hat with a wide brim will protect your face and neck especially if you’re fishing or working up a sweat on a stroll.
DEET-based repellents don’t kill insects, rather they work by making you smell unappealing. Generally considered safe and often sold in creams or sprays they are highly effective for most people but may produce an allergic reaction in some.
Avoid using on broken skin, adhere to label recommendations when it comes to children and avoid using on babies under two months’ old.
Essential oils are also regarded poorly by insect life, with peppermint, citronella oil, eucalyptus, lemongrass and rosemary oil particularly repugnant to problematic minibeasts. Avoid using neat, instead, blend a combination of 40 or so drops with 100ml of carrier oil like almond or grapeseed and apply every two or so hours.
Although considered by some safer than DEET, natural doesn’t mean reaction-free, so test first before widespread use as home formulas aren’t tested like commercial preparations. Candles impregnated with citronella oil offer reasonable protection with smoke an added detractant.