How to Keep Mosquitoes Away When Camping: 17 Simple Solutions to Keep Bites at Bay

Mosquitoes are a sure-fire way to make camping trips a less-than-enjoyable experience. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep these annoying insects at bay. With these 17 easy methods and solutions, from natural repellents to how to keep mosquitoes away from your campsite, you just might have a chance to head home without a single mosquito bite.

Here are the best ways to tackle mosquitoes that are also effective against flies, gnats, and ticks. Armed with knowing how to keep mosquitoes away when camping, you can get ready to enjoy the great outdoors without getting annoyed with the itchy bites!

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a person spraying bug spray to keep the mosquitoes from biting
If you’re trying to figure out how to keep mosquitoes away when camping, try bug spray, one of the most common methods.

How to Repel Mosquitoes While Camping

If the mosquitoes aren’t attracted to you, you have a better chance of minimizing the bug bites. These protective measures will reduce the likelihood of pesky insects landing on you for a bite.

1. Apply Traditional Bug Sprays and Lotions

Packing bug spray for your camping trip is a quick and easy way to keep the mosquitos and other bugs at bay. The most effective insect repellents contain a DEET-based product.

DEET-Based Insect Repellents

DEET is the active ingredient in most traditional bug sprays and one that many have been using for years. It’s a tried-and-true product, though there are growing concerns about its safety (the EPA considers DEET safe to use). Use products like OFF! FamilyCare Bug Spray keeps mosquitoes, gnats, and chiggers off you and the kids, but don’t use it on your dog.

Natural Insect Repellents

DEET-free REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent spray is the only plant-based repellent recommended by the CDC. It’s also effective against deer ticks. The oil of lemon eucalyptus is toxic for pets, so don’t use it on your dog.

No Mosquitoz is another DEET-free, botanical-based product made with various essential oils like rosemary, lemongrass, and citronella oils. This product uses essential oils that are deemed safe for pets.

Quantum Health Buzz Away Extreme Insect Repellent is DEET-free and made with a blend of essential oils effective against mosquitos and ticks. However, this combination of oils is not safe for pets.

DEET Alternatives: Picaridin and Permethrin

Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent is a lotion applied to exposed skin that protects against mosquitoes, ticks, flies, gnats, and chiggers. Picardin is an effective alternative to DEET and is also safe for dogs (DEET is not).

Permethrin is another bug repellant used on clothing and gear rather than applied to the skin. It is considered safe for children and pets but should only be used in ventilated areas. It works against mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, mites, and other insects. If you’re in an area that warrants extra protection against diseases like West Nile Virus or Zika, try Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Insect Repellent.  

2. Make Homemade Essential Oil Repellent 

a child getting sprayed with a homemade bug repellent showing how to repel mosquitoes while camping
Fill a spray bottle with an all-natural homemade mosquito repellent.

Consider making your own DEET-free natural repellents with blends of essential oils (but be careful around pets as some are toxic).

Some essential oils, like tea tree oil, are most effective in repelling mosquitoes. Other oils to use are lemongrass, basil, cinnamon, peppermint, catnip, orange, tea tree, cedarwood, geranium, eucalyptus, and lavender oil. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is also an effective repellent but is different from lemon eucalyptus oil.

For safety reasons, avoid using these when camping in bear country. The sweet smell of many of these oils may attract bears to your campsite.

3. Spray a Homemade Vinegar Mosquito Repellent

Another homemade, natural mosquito repellent is vinegar. Combat the strong smell of vinegar by making a solution with oranges. Fill a mason jar with orange peels, then fill with white or apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for two weeks, shaking it occasionally. Put the vinegar solution in a spray bottle and use this all-natural bug repellent as normally would with bug spray. 

4. Use Mosquito-Repellent Bracelets

A natural alternative to applying sprays or creams is wearing a bug repellent bracelet. DEET-free bracelets like the BuggyBands and Superband Mosquito Repellent Bracelets are longer-lasting solutions, so you don’t need to worry about remembering to re-apply every so often.

5. Eat Foods That Mosquitoes Hate

Did you know that what you eat can provide protection against mosquitoes? Foods like garlic, tomatoes, grapefruit, beans, chili peppers, and lemongrass can naturally deter the bugs from biting.

On the other hand, some foods can attract mosquitoes. Avoid overly salty and sugary foods to keep them from biting.

6. Repurpose Dryer Sheets

There isn’t a lot of proof that dryer sheets act as an effective repellent against pesky mosquitoes and gnats, but it seems to work for some. Simply stuff dryer sheets in pockets, sides of shoes, or anywhere else you can tuck them in your clothing.

On one particularly buggy midwest evening in Illinois, we tried this out. We found that it really did offer some protection from mosquitoes!

7. Skip the Vitamin B1

There is a lot of advice out there claiming that vitamin B1 supplements in the weeks ahead of your camping trip will help ward off the mosquitoes. Research has shown this is simply not true, so in your quest to learn how to keep mosquitoes away while camping, skip this advice and lean on the other solutions listed here. 

How to Keep Mosquitoes Away When Camping: Stopping the Bites

These methods work to block the mosquitoes to prevent them from getting to you. These aren’t always easy to do (no one wants to wear long sleeves when camping in hot weather), but they are chemical-free ways to keep the bugs from reaching you – or wanting to reach you.

8. Wear Clothes With Coverage

camper's legs shown covered with shoes and clothing as a way to keep mosquitoes from biting

If you can’t find an effective mosquito repellent that works for you or want extra protection, cover up as much skin as possible. Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck pant legs into socks.

9. Keep Tent Doors Zipped Closed

Nothing is worse than mosquitoes and other bugs sneaking into the tent with you. Keep your tent doors closed well, so there is no gap between where the zipper pulls meet. And keep the tent doors closed when not going in or out of the tent.

Between camping trips, do a once over on your camping tent to ensure no holes or tears in the tent. Repair anything you find that will allow the insects to get in the tent. 

10. Put Up Screen Rooms and Netting

a hammock set up and covered with mosquito netting
The netting over a hammock is an effective way to keep the mosquitoes from biting.

11. Use Fragrance-Free Hygiene Products

Pack lotions, hair care products, and other body care products that don’t have fragrances, attracting bugs. Choosing unscented products can help keep other animals, like bears, away too.

12. Avoid Dark Clothing

I find this one hit or miss, but if mosquitoes are a problem and you get bit up as much as I do, it’s worth doing everything you can. Dark and bright clothing makes it easier for mosquitoes to find you, so opt for lighter-colored clothing on your next camping trip. 

In some climates, it’s hard to avoid the moisture that attracts mosquitoes. Adding a screen room to your camping gear can give everyone a safe place to escape. To save space in your camping gear, look for netting that attaches to your canopy.  

How to Keep Mosquitoes Away From Your Campsite

What’s better than keeping mosquitoes away from you? Keep them out of your campsite altogether! These tips will make your campsite one that the mosquitoes won’t want to visit.

13. Light Campfires and Candles

Many who are looking for how to keep mosquitoes away while camping don’t realize that the campfire is an effective repellent. Mosquitoes do not like the smoke and will do their best to stay away while we’re enjoying your favorite nighttime camping activities.

Too early to start a campfire? Lighting citronella candles is another way to keep the bugs away. Keep a candle or two lit on the picnic table during dinner. Just keep in mind that some people can be sensitive to citronella oil

14. Keep A Clean Campsite

Sometimes you don’t need to work as hard at repelling the mosquitoes and other insects if your campsite is kept clean and clear of anything that would draw them in. Ensure food is put away after meals, the dishes are washed and put away, and trash is tightly secured or brought right to the dumpster.

15. Repel With Dried or Fresh Herbs

Not only do mosquitoes dislike campfires, they really hate the smell of sage and other herbs. This natural mosquito repellent can be burned in your fire for an extra layer of protection.

Hanging sprigs of fresh mint and lavender in the tent is another bug deterrent – and it makes the tent smell so good.

16. Keep in Mind Where You Are Camping

a tent set up for camping by a lake
As perfect as this camping spot by the water can be, it’s also a spot that mosquitoes will love.

Knowing how to keep mosquitoes away from your campsite is an excellent start to keep them off of you. Avoid campsites (or even campgrounds) near stagnant water, which is particularly attractive to mosquitoes. Puddles from recent rain, lakes, and ponds are sure-fire ways to draw in the mosquitoes.

17. Watch the Lights

Mosquitoes love flashlights, headlamps, and other lights you use around the campsite. Since bugs are so attracted to light sources, turn off flashlights, camping lanterns, and your camping tent lights when you’re not actively using them.

Camping season is upon us, which means outdoor fun for the whole family. But, mosquitoes always seem to find a way to dampen our spirits by biting us incessantly. These tips will show you how to keep mosquitoes away when camping. By following these simple guidelines and packing the right repellants, you can enjoy your time outdoors without worrying about being eaten alive!

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