When you go camping, especially in the summer months, there will almost always be some mosquitos around that might, and probably will drive you a little crazy.
There is nothing more infuriating than being constantly woken up by mosquitos buzzing in your ear, being itchy from bites, and if you’re unlucky, having bad reactions to bites that make you look like you have chickenpox in all your vacation photos.
If you’re camping in tropical areas, mosquitos also carry horrid diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, and zika viruses, making it even more important to avoid being bitten at all costs.
I have lived most of my life in Kenya and have had malaria 4 times, and believe me it’s not much fun, so it’s best to avoid being bitten if you can.
There are, luckily, ways to keep mosquitos away while camping, all of which we will discuss today. I’ll go through all the options so the next time you go camping you can load up and put into force, all the was to keep mosquitos from biting you while camping.
The first way to keep mosquitos away while camping is by understanding how they find you in the first place. Mosquitos are attracted to two things, scents, and color contrast.
Mosquitos pick up on the carbon dioxide you and other animals breathe out and they use it to track and find you. They also hone in on the smell of sweat and if you’re wearing dark colors, they’ll be more attracted to you than if you’re wearing light colors.
There isn’t much you can do about breathing carbon dioxide, but you can manage your body scent and the color clothes you wear.
Mosquitos use smells to find you and it’s best to have as natural a scent as possible. This means not using smelly soaps when in your shower or wearing things like aftershave, if you do, you’ll be a magnet and easy for mosquitos to find.
The smell of body odor is also something mosquitos love, especially sweat. If you’re drinking alcohol or doing exercise, you’re going to sweat and release lactic acid into the air, making it very easy for mosquitos to find you, so try to avoid that, especially between dusk and dawn.
Mosquitos tend to be at their highest concentration at dusk and dawn. For some reason, this is their main feeding time and it’s best to be protected in your tent during these periods. It’s easy to hide away at dawn but dusk is a beautiful time to be outside, so make sure you’re protected if enjoying a sunset or evening walk.
There is nothing that annoys me more than having a mosquito buzzing around my ears in the night. Not only does it wake me up but the thought of an impending bite doesn’t make going back to sleep very easy.
Make sure you have a way to block mosquitos from entering where you sleep whether you’re using a tent or a hammock.
Most tents come with a zip-over mesh door that will block mosquitos from getting inside while ensuring you can still sleep with some ventilation and be cool at night. But, you need to make sure your tent’s screen door is always closed, especially at dusk when mosquitos are on the prowl.
If you’re using a hammock, make sure you have some solid bug netting that will stop them from getting to you in the nighttime.
When outside the safety of your tent or mosquito net, it’s important to wear protective clothing to stop you from getting bitten, especially at night time. Long sleeves are key as they offer far more protection, so long shirts and trousers are the best options.
If you’re camping in a hot place, invest in some breathable lightweight long sleeve clothing so that you can stay cool and protected.
When camping in a place with a lot of mosquitos, it might be worth getting some clothing with repellent built into the fabric as this will add an extra layer of defense, plus you might not need to put on so much repellent.
A head net might also be worth having, especially in areas with thousands of mosquitos. Head nets don’t look very cool but it’s better than having 20 mosquitos sitting on your face or plying your delicate skin with a DEET-based repellent.
Mosquitos are also drawn to dark colors more than light ones, so when packing your mosquito clothing, choose light colors.
I have spent most of my life using mosquito repellent daily and it does work. Your best bet is to pick some that are waterproof so that you don’t have to reapply so often. It won’t drip off your skin with sweat or when you have a dip in the lake or river.
Mosquito repellent, especially DEET-based ones, can be harmful to your skin. Having to wear repellent daily made me worry about my skin and I chose not to wear any at all because I was worried about how it might affect me.
If you are concerned about mosquito repellents affecting your skin, there are some excellent natural repellents that really do work. My favorite is Incognito, it’s 100% natural and extremely effective at keeping mosquitos at bay.
Another tip if you’re worried about your skin is to spray your clothes and tent with mosquito repellent instead of your skin. Also, if you wear long sleeves, there shouldn’t be much skin that needs repellent on it – just your hands and your feet if wearing sandals.
If you really don’t like covering your skin with any mosquito repellent, maybe a mosquito repellent bracelet would work best for you.
These bracelets emit mosquito repellent and if you’re wearing long sleeves, you can pop on on each wrist and ankle to be protected for the night. These are also excellent for kids, as you don’t want them covered in Deet, plus the hassle of reapplying goes out the window.
Mosquitos breed in stagnant water and their highest concentrations will be found in wet areas. They don’t need a lake to breed in, a small puddle will also do, which is why it is imperative to pick a campsite that is dry and not near any lakes or puddles. Fast-flowing rivers are ok to camp near as mosquitos won’t breed in moving water.
By camping away from areas mosquitos love, you’ll hugely reduce the chances of being swarmed and bitten.
We already know that mosquitos are attracted to your scent and by having a smokey campfire going you’ll ensure your scent is masked. They also don’t like smoke or fire, and it works as a deterrent as much as a scent screen, plus who doesn’t love a campfire while out in the wilderness.
Another thing mosquitos are attracted to is the light from your torch or lantern. Leaving a light on is like flapping a red rag at a bull when it comes to mosquitos, so only use them when you have to. Lights will also attract a load of other bugs too, so keeping their use to a minimum is definitely worth it.
It’s ok to leave a light running in your tent if everything is zipped up and mosquito-proofed. But, make sure to turn them off when entering and exiting your tent as they’ll be ready and waiting to fly inside when the tent door opens.
Mosquitos are attracted to the UV from the white light given off by torches and lanterns. However, different colored lights such as yellow and red don’t have the same UV attraction as white light, and by using them you’ll attract far fewer mosquitos.
Most headlamps come with a red light these days, and it’s highly recommended to use the red light mode at all times. It won’t act as a repellent but it won’t attract them, plus it’ll keep your night vision intact too.
Mosquitos and other bugs hate the smell of some of our favorite foods such as garlic, onions, lemon, and oranges. By preparing and eating foods like this, you can repel mosquitos quite naturally. To take it further, you can even rub your skin with citrus peels as a natural repellent, and you should always volunteer to chop the onions and garlic to keep the mosquitos away from your skin.
Have you ever eaten too much garlic and then begin to smell like a clove daily? Unfortunately for my partner, I love raw garlic and eat it almost daily, and once it starts secreting from my skin, she keeps her distance.
The same works for mosquitos, which is probably why she always gets bitten more than me. If the idea of eating raw garlic isn’t your cup of tea, then get some garlic capsules and take them daily while out camping. As the garlic scent secrets from your skin, it’ll repel mosquitos, even while you’re sweating.
Nowadays you can buy devices called diffusers that slowly emit a pesticide called metofluthrin. This pesticide essentially creates a bug shield and when used in your campsite can block between 80-100% of the mosquitos in the area.
Diffusers run on battery power which slowly heats up the pesticide and then disperse it using a fan. These work for up to 12 hours and will create a force field around you that the mosquitos will avoid. You’ll need to make sure you have a way of charging them though, especially on multiple-day camping trips.
A simple option to using diffusers is using coils instead. They come in packs of 10 or more with a stand and all you have to do is place one on the stand and light it. Once lit, the coil will slowly let out smoke that is filled with repellent and pyrethrum which will repel mosquitos from the area. The great thing about coils is that you only need a lighter for them to work – so no recharging is necessary.
Mosquito nets are not that expensive these days and they’re pretty light to haul around too. If you’re going camping in a mosquito-filled area, or a place where mosquitos carry viruses, it might be an idea to invest in a big mosquito net you can use as a mess tent.
With a bit of rope and if you’re camping in an area with some trees, you can string up a tent out of your mosquito net in under ten minutes, giving you a place to hang out in the evenings and at night where the mosquitos can’t get to you.
Mosquito repellent is rather expensive so spraying it all around your campsite and on your tents is a costly affair. Also, it doesn’t smell very nice and the last thing you want is to create a stinky campsite.
Before you go on your camping trip, you can make your own, nice smelling mosquito repellent at home for next to nothing, to spray around your campsite.
Essential oils like Thyme, Eucalyptus, Cedarwood, and Citronella emit smells that mosquitos hate but humans like. If you mix some of these into a concoction of rubbing alcohol and water, you’ll end up with a cheap but effective mosquito repellent that you can spray all around your campsite and keep it smelling fresh too.
There you have it, over 10 ways to keep mosquitos away while camping. The key ones to follow are not letting mosquitos into your tent and wearing long sleeves. By doing this, you’ll be 90% protected most of the time, but in high-density mosquito areas, you might have to whip out all the stops to have a mosquito-less camping trip.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!