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15 Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping (Tips & DIY)

Looking for natural ways to keep bugs away when camping? Here are the best oils, DIY bug repellents, and tips to combat insects on your next RV trip…

Camping is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy the great outdoors. But then you have a new challenge of trying to escape bugs. From mosquitoes to ticks, bugs can not only be annoying but can also carry diseases.

Luckily, there are natural ways to keep bugs away while camping so you can enjoy your trip without being constantly pestered.

In this article, we will list the most effective ways to keep bugs at bay. You can consider saying goodbye to DEET-based products and hello to natural methods!

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Dealing with Ticks & Mosquitos on a Camping Trip

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We love summertime camping except for one thing: Mosquitoes! In the above video, we talk with the top mosquito expert at The Centers for Disease Control about what we can do to stop being bugged so much by skeeters.

That interview lays some great groundwork before diving into the natural ways to keep bugs away when camping…

7 Common Ingredients Used in Natural Repellents

Instead of DEET-based products, you can use natural insect repellent to keep pesky bugs away when camping. These natural repellents are available in many forms, including essential oils, candles, lotions, sprays, repellent bracelets, and more.

Let's take a quick look at the most commonly used, so you can determine which is the best natural bug repellent for you.

BY THE WAY, you should also check out our Bug Round Up: Best Articles on Battling Bugs While RVing.

1. Citronella

One of the most effective natural repellents is citronella oil. This oil, extracted from the citronella plant leaves, has a strong smell that bugs dislike.

It can be used in various forms, such as citronella candles, lotions, and sprays. Citronella oil is also an ingredient in many natural repellents on the market.

2. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

Another natural oil that is effective in repelling bugs is lemon eucalyptus oil. This oil of lemon eucalyptus is extracted from the plant's leaves and is known for its strong citrus scent.

It is also an ingredient in many DEET-free commercial bug repellents that you can safely spray on your skin.

3. Neem Oil

Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree and has a strong smell that bugs dislike. Neem oil is most commonly applied to the skin with a dropper or as a lotion, like this raw neem butter.

15 Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping

4. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is another natural repellent that is effective against bugs. The strong smell of peppermint is known to repel bugs, especially spiders and ants.

You can buy natural insect control spray with peppermint oil and spray your picnic table, patio area, and more. Speaking of picnic tables, check out the best foldable tables and table accessories for camping.

5. Garlic

Many swear that garlic keeps bugs away, and some recommend taking garlic capsules while camping. Others suggest spreading crushed garlic around your camping area.

I wonder if cooking a great Italian dinner would be enough. That'd certainly be the best way to keep bugs away if it works!

6. Lavender

Many people love all things lavender, but apparently, mosquitos hate it! Those same people plant lavender in their gardens as a natural mosquito repellent.

When camping, I suppose you can bring a potted lavender plant along. Or, you can use lavender oil, lotion, or spray. I've heard some people keep lavender sachets in their pockets.

7. Coconut Oil

USA Today released an article based on a study stating that bug repellent made from coconut oil works better than DEET.

There are many coconut oil products, but this organic coconut oil is particularly popular.

15 Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping (Tips & DIY) 1
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3 DIY Bug Repellent Recipes

Instead of buying natural repellents, you can make your own bug repellent. Here are some popular recipes you can make before or even during your next camping trip. It could be a fun activity for you and your family! All the links to the ingredients are in the previous paragraphs.

1. DIY Citronella Candle

To make your own citronella candle, you will need citronella oil, beeswax, and a candle wick. To make the candle, simply melt the beeswax and mix in the citronella oil. Add the oil “to smell”… however much you think smells good. You can experiment with different batches.

Pour the mix in whatever heat- and fire-safe container you choose, add the wick and let it dry.

2. DIY Lemon Eucalyptus Spray or Peppermint Spray

To make this homemade oil repellent, you will need lemon eucalyptus oil, water, and a spray bottle. Mix the oil and water in the spray bottle and shake well.

That's it! This can be sprayed on exposed skin or clothing to keep bugs away.

If you prefer the smell of peppermint, follow the same instructions substituting peppermint oil for lemon eucalyptus oil.

15 Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping

3. DIY Neem & Coconut Lotion

You will need neem oil, coconut oil, and a small container. Since both neem and coconut are known for repelling annoying bugs, this can be a great solution.

Mix the neem oil and coconut oil together and store it in a small container. This lotion can be applied to exposed skin to keep bugs away.

More Natural Tips for Keeping Bugs Away

Using oils, lotions, and sprays isn't the only solution. There are other products and strategies you can employ.

We have an Ultimate “Bug Off! Shopping List I highly recommend checking out. Plus, here are more helpful tips to keep bugs away when camping…

1. Avoid or Get Rid of Stagnant Water

Female mosquitos lay around 100 eggs at a time, and they'll happily lay eggs in as small as a cap full of water! You can greatly reduce the number of mosquitos in your campsite by parking away from or removing stagnant water.

2. Don't Wear THESE Colors

Studies have shown that mosquitos are attracted to colors like red, orange, black, and cyan. Those colors along with the CO2 from your breath can lead to more mosquito bites.

The study also suggests that clothing with green, purple, blue, and white might deter different species of mosquitos. It's also a good idea to wear long sleeves and long pants to block access to your skin.

15 Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping

3. Set a Fan on High

Have you ever noticed that some food stores have a strong fan above their doors? This helps prevent flying bugs from entering.

You can use this same strategy by strategically placing a fan by you or fans around your campsite. It should help with black flies, mosquitos, no-see-ums, and other flying pests.

4. Use Mosquito Nets and Screen Rooms

It's always a good idea to create a physical barrier between you and bugs as well. You can buy simple mosquito netting or invest in one of the best screen tents. As long as you keep the tent doors closed, you'll be good!

5. Check the Off!Cast Mosquito Forecast

The well-known OFF! brand created a mosquito forecast system that predicts local mosquito activity across the U.S. up to seven days in advance. Checking the forecast is an easy way to determine how best to prepare. Bookmark this site, so you have it handy for your next big adventure.

You can bring extra protection as needed. I also suggest you check out the best mosquito repellent devices for even more options.

What About Ticks?

Some of the above tips and products work great against tips, but if you should also check out How to Keep Ticks Off Your Dog & Out of Your RV.

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15 Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping (Tips & DIY) 2

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-01-17

Mike Wendland is an Emmy award-winning journalist, traveler, and producer of RV Podcast, the RV Lifestyle travel blog, and the RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube. Mike, traveling with his wife Jennifer and their Norwegian Elkhound, Bo, has vast experience and a great passion for exploring North America, previously working as a long-time NBC-TV News Channel Technology Correspondent and now sharing his love for the RV lifestyle with millions. Mike is not only an adept RV life enthusiast but also a skillful storyteller, bringing to his channels stories from the road that perfectly capture the magic and hardships of this lifestyle.

2 Responses to “15 Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping (Tips & DIY)”

January 21, 2023at4:48 pm, Beth Gorton said:

Please note: “compounds extracted from coconut oil – not the oil itself – were found as an effective repellent…” I knew it couldn’t be that easy!!

Reply

January 17, 2023at3:43 pm, Laurie Fredericks said:

In the DYI section, I did NOT see any amount or ratios of oil to water.

Reply

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