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8 Camping Pests To Watch Out For

From eating your food to drinking your blood, here's how to prevent camping pests from dampening your outdoor adventures.


No matter where you live, mosquitos are common outdoor companions. “Mosquitoes are one of the most annoying insects, and they’re especially bad when you’re camping,” says Nicholas Kilby of Think Wild.

Start by choosing your campsite wisely. Avoid areas with standing or stagnant water like ponds, puddles and marshes. Also, seek places prone to breezes, which can prevent mosquitoes from swarming.

To further keep them at bay, you’ll likely need a combination of the following:

  • Clothing: Wear loose clothing to cover up exposed skin. A recent study also suggests clothing color can make a difference. Green, purple, blue and white seem to deter mosquitoes, while red, orange, black and cyan attract them. Other studies have shown that stinky items like unwashed socks attract them as well.
  • Chemical repellents: DEET and permethrin are usually effective but can cause allergic reactions and harm the environment, so try to use them in moderation. “DEET can corrode valuable camping equipment and prolonged exposure to high concentrations of permethrin has been linked to different types of cancer,” says Kilby.
  • Natural repellents: Scents like citronella and eucalyptus can help keep mosquitoes away without harsh chemicals. “However, these methods don’t usually work when the mosquitoes are really bad,” says Kilby.
  • Bug-repellant clothes: Some clothing lines are made from or treated with insect repellants. “Exofficio is one of my favorite bug-repellent clothing brands,” Kilby says, “and Sawyer makes great bug repellant for your skin and clothing that will not damage your gear.”
  • Smoke: Smoke from a small fire can bring some relief. But never leave a fire untended, and extinguish it properly to prevent wildfires.

Once you’re bitten, resist the urge to scratch. Scratching increases your histamine response, which makes the bite itch more. And once the skin is broken, you risk infection. An anti-itch cream can help.

Continue reading Karuna Eberl's tips on preventing pests from dampening your outdoor adventures here.


August 30, 2022

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Karuna Eberl

Family Handyman


Depending on where you travel, you may want to pack bug spray, too. In places like Florida and North Carolina, summers get buggy, and you’ll be happy to have packed a spray on nights when you want to sit on the porch or dine outdoors.

Madison Flager and Meaghan Kenny


As a veteran of the Iraq War, I found myself struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder from which greatly impacted my mental health. In 2016, I came across the film “Wild,” an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about healing by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

LeAura Luciano


Sawyer Permethrin Premium Insect Repellent is used on clothing, not skin, and it provides long-lasting protection against ticks.

Media Mentions from Wirecutter