I’ve camped in some places that are infested with insects, such as the west coast of Scotland, where the midges come in swarms of thousands. Thinking about this, it made me wonder what are the best ways to keep mosquitoes away while camping.
After a quick bit of research, I found there are several ways to discourage mosquitoes, such as avoiding scents that attract them, using repellent, and keeping your tent closed as much as possible, for example. The key thing I discovered is that preparation is key here. In this brief article, I’ll take a quick look at the best methods of keeping mosquitoes away while camping.
- What Attracts Mosquitoes?
- How to Deter Mosquitoes Outside the Tent
- How to Deter Mosquitoes Inside the Tent
- Other Devices and Deterrents
- Fina Thoughts
What Attracts Mosquitoes?
Before trying to work out how to keep mosquitoes away from your campsite, it’s probably worth finding out what attracts them.
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2). We breathe this out naturally, unfortunately.
- Body heat. The insects can sense heat.
- Strong perfumes. Not sure why you would wear perfume while camping, so avoid them.
- Water or damp areas. Mosquitoes need water for their life-cycle. It doesn’t need to be much, so keep everything as dry as possible.
How to Deter Mosquitoes Outside the Tent
Pitch in the Dryest Area Possible
Stagnant or still waters are the mosquitoes habitat, so the first priority is to pitch your tent well away from any water. Don’t be fooled by a lack of mosquitoes while you pitch your tent during the day, as the majority of them come out after sunset. But it’s not just large bodies of water, anywhere that retains water can be a breeding ground, so avoid them.
Physical barriers are good and work effectively. There are a couple of downsides, though. First, you need to keep the doors and windows of your tent closed at all times for them to be effective. Second, because you are breathing out CO2, the mozzies will congregate on the mesh trying to get in, which means you have to go through them to get out!
Wear Protective Clothing
The best deterrent when outside the confines of your tent is your clothing. If possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants instead of shorts. For hot climates, you can buy ultra-lightweight material clothing that breathes and keeps the insects out but also keeps you cool. Where the mozzies are really bad, consider wearing a head net.
I have personal experience with a mosquito trap and can confirm they do work. Ours was a large propane gas type, designed for a garden, that converted the gas into CO2 that attracted the mozzies and used a pump to suck them into the machine. They do work, and there are camping versions available now. Of course, we breathe out CO2 which attracts the mozzies, so they are not foolproof, but they should drastically reduce the numbers of mozzies.
Avoid Strong Scents
It has been shown that wearing strong scents, such as perfume or deodorants, can attract mosquitoes. I don’t think it applies to any particular brand, so just avoid them.
Use Natural Repellents
Around the campsite, you can use candles made with citronella for example. They are slow-release and can last right through the night, whereas burning citronella on the campfire gives a large release that only lasts for a short time.
On your body, many natural creams claim to deter or repel mosquitoes. Aloe Vera cream is good for bites and stings, but it can also form a barrier that prevents the mozzies from biting.
Light a Campfire
Lighting a campfire can sometimes work, but it’s not guaranteed. This is partly because the fire gives off CO2 that actually attracts mozzies. Burning some essential oils on the fire is much more effective, as some are natural repellents. For mosquitoes, using citronella or lavender can really help.
How to Deter Mosquitoes Inside the Tent
Get the Right Camping Gear
Make sure you buy a tent that has micro meshing on all openings. This allows you to ventilate the tent while keeping the mosquitoes out. If you regularly camp in areas with high concentrations of mosquitoes, then consider buying a tent with a screen room. The screen room acts as a second barrier that can substantially reduce the number of mosquitoes that make it inside the actual tent.
The final option, if you are camping in terrible mosquito areas, is a separate screened enclosure or canopy. It may seem like overkill, but pitching your tent inside an enclosure made of micro-mesh adds a complete second layer of protection.
Keep the Tent Doors and Windows Closed
It seems obvious but easily forgotten. Keeping the doors and windows of your tent shut as much as possible is the best way of keeping the mosquitoes out.
Avoid Using Lights and Lanterns
Difficult at night when camping, we know, but insects are attracted to light. The best advice is to use them sparingly and make sure any lights inside your tent are off before entering or leaving.
Other Devices and Deterrents
You’ll find a whole range of devices and chemicals on the market claiming to repel or kill mosquitoes, but is there any value in them?
Don’t Bother with Apps or Ultrasonics
Scanning the Internet, you’ll find hundreds of apps and ultrasonic devices that claim to repel mosquitoes. They seem to sell like crazy, but when you dig a little deeper, there’s scant evidence that they actually work. Our advice is to save your money.
We’ve all seen them, some shaped like tennis rackets, for swatting insects with an electric zap. They are okay for larger insects, but with hundreds of small mosquitoes buzzing around, they are pretty ineffective.
There are many types of chemical sprays on the market to repel insects, but using hazardous chemicals on your body is probably not a great idea. The science may still be unproven, but there have been many accidents in the past from using chemicals that we thought were safe, which turned out not to be. Personally, I’d avoid them and use natural repellents instead.
Camping is a fun pastime enjoyed by many, but mosquitoes can quickly ruin it. However, there are many ways to protect yourself from annoying insects and keep mosquitoes away while camping.
As they say, prevention is better than cure, so if you can keep the mozzies away in the first place, you’ll have a much better camping experience.
This article was last updated on April 22, 2021 .
The Outdoors Blog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.