One of the most aggravating things about the RV lifestyle is dealing with mosquitoes and other flying pests (black flies anyone?).
For many, the simple solution to mosquitoes is to douse themselves with chemicals, but using bug spray is far from being the best way to repel insects.
For the rest of us, these 7 tips will minimize the annoyance of insects without the use of pesticides like DEET.
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Before I jump into the tips, I wanted to introduce you to a really cool resource I just learned of. This OFF!Cast Mosquito predicts the local mosquito activity anywhere across the US up to seven days in advance. It’s based on mosquito biology!
This tool was created using an algorithm co-developed by SC Johnson Institute of Insect Science for Family Health in partnership with Google Cloud and Climate Engine.
With OFF!Cast, you can now get your local mosquito forecast as easily as your local weather forecast. This can help anyone looking to travel or to do any outdoor activities across the US, to prepare and plan ahead.
Pretty cool, huh?!
Tip #1: Indirectly Spray Mosquito Repellent
If you worry about using products that contain DEET or other household pesticides on your sking, spraying objects instead of the skin reduces contact with the chemicals but produces acceptable results.
Spray seat cushions, under tables, and curtains. You can also spray a little on a rag and mount it on a post.
A word to the wise, DEET has a corrosive effect on soft plastics, so be very careful about handling plastic objects after getting DEET on your hands.
Tip #2: Using Essential Oils
Mint is doubly effective against ants and mosquitoes and can be used in a variety of ways.
In a permanent setting, try planting mint around your fence line and then mow it immediately before outside gatherings.
At remote campsites spray the area with mint essential oil mixtures. Even mint candies and mouthwash has limited effectiveness, although the concentration of essential oils is often too low to be noticeably useful.
Mint is far from the only essential oil at your disposal, but it has a fresh aromatic appeal that people enjoy.
Making your own bug repellent is a great way to keep mosquitoes away from your camp. Start with a spray bottle and mix a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol into a cup of water.
Remember to shake vigorously before each use. Next, add 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. There are quite a few of these concentrated plant extracts that will repel insects, but you should only use one in a mixture.
Some of the most popular essential oils for the job include:
Tip #3: Alternative Products
Screen rooms keep the majority of biting and stinging bugs out, but some always seem to find their way in. That’s where this second line of defense comes in.
The Thermacell Patio Shield creates a 15-foot zone of protection against mosquitos. It uses unscented repellent mats with naturally occurring repellents found in plants. The mats last up to 4 hours, which is perfect for peak mosquito time in the evenings.
This is a no mess, no DEET, no spray, no cord, no battery, and no on-skin chemicals option. It comes in several different colors but, more importantly, has 4 stars with over 40,000 reviews.
Tip #4: Use Candles
Burning candles can be effective at keeping mosquitoes away, but you would need to burn several candles. This method wouldn’t work very well on a windy night, and should probably be reserved for use in semi-enclosed spaces.
As a bonus, candles also reduce cigarette smoke and other odors, and that makes burning candles a great idea when you have to be cooped up for a while.
For outdoor gatherings, citronella candles offer the benefits of a candle with the insect repellent ability of citronella oil.
Tip #5: Reduce Your Appeal
One way that bugs find a victim is through scent.
Wearing heavy colognes, fruity body sprays, and other sprays, creams, and ointments designed to reduce or cover body odor are not a good idea for camping.
If you can smell it, so can the mosquitoes.
By the same token, being freshly bathed with a non-scented soap reduces how much odor you are emitting, and that alone can cut the number of flying pest attacks in half.
On the same note, dressing for the occasion makes a big difference as well. The more exposed skin you have, the more insects will try to feast on it.
Even on a warm night, wearing a light windbreaker will reduce bug bites. To protect your ankles, wear socks.
Tip #6: Build a Fire
Smoke from a campfire will reduce the number of flying pests.
When insects smell burning wood or leaves, their instinct is to flee the vicinity to protect them from wildfires, and your campfire is just another fire to bugs.
The downside of using fire to repel insects is that someone always ends up being the person the smoke is drawn or blown to.
On the positive side, a campfire is great for cooking hotdogs, roasting marshmallows, or making homemade smores.
Your fire may not be the only tool you use to protect the campsite, but having a fire always livens up the experience.
Keep in mind that fires are prohibited in many parts of the country. Before you build a fire, even in our favorite smokeless fire pit, check with the local fire department to find out the fire danger and any local ordinances that may be in effect.
Tip #7: Screen Rooms
Mosquito mesh can be purchased at sporting goods stores, and ready-made screen tents are available at those locations and many hardware stores.
The drawback to using screening is that everyone is confined to a relatively small space or they face the risk of insect bites.
And a Bonus Tip
Another thing you can do to reduce the number of flying pests and insect parasites is to stay out from under trees and off the high grass.
Flying insects gather in high grass and underbrush. Need to know more about keeping Tick off you and your pets and out of your RV? Here's the post for you.
If you are going to be in an area with a lot of vegetation, consider using at least a canopy for the purpose of insect control.
Tell us all your favorite solutions for keeping mosquitoes out of your camp in the comments. We'd love to hear your experience with this!
Watch Our Interview with a Mosquito Specialist
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In this RV Lifestyle Podcast interview, Janet McAllister from the CDC shares her insights on just why ticks and mosquitoes can be so deadly.
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