How To Repel Mosquitoes While Camping

How To Repel Mosquitoes While Camping

Mosquitos are the enemy of every camper: they’re set out to ruin your trip. They’re annoying, and their bites can be downright painful.

Shop-bought mosquito repellent isn’t always effective, so you might find yourself wondering what your other options are. 

In this article, we’ll be answering the most common questions regarding mosquito repellents. What smells keep them away? Does Vicks Vapor Rub really work as a repellent?

We’ll be answering these questions – and more – to ensure you’re fully clued up on how to enjoy your vacation bite-free.

Will a fire pit keep mosquitoes away?

Most insects – including mosquitoes – aren’t too keen on smoke, plus fire pits are something you’re likely to use when camping anyway. 

Having a fire pit burning will not be a complete solution to your mosquito issues, but it will certainly discourage them from hanging around. 

This is backed up by studies carried out by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that significantly fewer mosquito bites occurred when a fire pit was burning.

Smoke also proved a more effective repellent than other methods such as applying repellents to skin. 

Furthermore, burning certain types of wood or plants in your fire can offer extra protection against mosquitoes: 

The first option is Pinyon, also known as ‘Piñon.’ This is a popular firewood option that is commonly available in the Southwest of the U.S.

Mosquitoes do not like Pinyon and will keep their distance when you’re burning it. The good news is that while mosquitoes may hate it, it smells good to us, so you won’t have to put up with any strong repellent smells. 

When it comes to cooking, it gets mixed reviews as a smoking wood for meat and fish, so bear this in mind if you’ll be cooking with it.

You can also try burning Eucalyptus

The bark of this tree contains the active natural ingredient eucalyptol (or cineole as it is commonly called) and this is also commonly used as an insect repellent.

Your other option is to dry a few bunches of herbs – rosemary or sage have proven to be the most effective at deterring mosquitoes. 

Pick up a couple of fresh bundles of rosemary or sage from the supermarket, as the dried herbs in your cupboard probably won’t make much of a difference.

What smell do mosquitoes hate the most?

There are certain smells that mosquitoes really, really dislike. One of the best-known natural insect repellents is citronella oil, which you can also get in the form of candles or torches. 

However, note that citronella will only be effective if the smoke or scent is between you and the mosquito, which is why oils and repellents applied to the skin are usually more effective.  

The smell of garlic is known to drive mosquitoes away – even eating garlic is known to repel mosquitoes. 

Other smells mosquitoes hate include: peppermint, basil, lemongrass, neem, orange, lemon, and lavender. You can get these in oil form and apply them to your skin and clothes. 

But which do they hate the most? 

You might never have heard of it, but mosquitoes really hate the smell of Lantana. This plant has a bitter citrusy smell which mosquitoes steer clear from. 

Are tents mosquito-proof?

Most modern tents will claim to be mosquito-proof, but it really depends on the quality of the tent. 

Whether you’re purchasing a new tent, or examining your old one, pay attention to how well the seams are sewn, and look out for any rips in the fabric or holes where mosquitoes and other pests can get through. 

Most tents will have mesh sections designed to keep bugs out, but check these for rips if you’re using an old tent, as these can tear pretty easily.

Also ensure your zippers zip around all the way, and be sure to patch up even the tiniest of holes – you’d be surprised at what mosquitos can fit through. 

How do you mosquito-proof a tent?

When you’re setting up your tent, do the following to minimize the chances of mosquitoes and other pests getting inside: 

  • Pitch your tent with the door and windows zipped closed.
  • When putting your belongings inside, unzip the tent door as little as possible and quickly push your sleeping bag and other things inside. Don’t leave the door wide open – you can arrange things later on. 
  • Avoid unrolling your sleeping bag or unpacking your blowup mattresses before throwing them inside your tent, as this is a prime opportunity for mosquitoes to embed themselves. 
  • Avoid putting food or water inside your tent unless you’re confident that it’s tightly sealed, as this can attract insects and other animals. 

How to further mosquito-proof your tent: 

  • If your tent and netting are not treated with insect repellent, you can spray the exterior of your tent with a traditional or natural insect repellent.
  • Never leave your tent door unzipped.
  • Avoid frequently going in and out of your tent. 
  • When you do enter or exit the tent, brush or knock-off insects that may be clinging to the tent door.
  • Avoid using flashlights around your tent door and keep light off inside the tent when you’re not using it – insects are drawn to artificial light.
  • Camp in a breezy area 
  • Avoid pitching your tent near stagnant water
  • Avoid camping near dense vegetation or cedar trees

Does coconut oil repel mosquitoes?

Surprisingly, yes. 

Even though coconut oil doesn’t have a strong smell like citronella or garlic, research by the US Department of Agriculture found that the fatty acids found in coconut oil had long-lasting insect-repelling properties against pests such as flies, ticks, bed bugs, and mosquitos.

However, lead researcher Junwei Zhu stressed that it was the compounds extracted from coconut oil – not the oil itself – which were effective mosquito repellents. 

The study found that coconut oil compounds out-performed DEET – the chemical found in many mosquito repellents – with an effective rate greater than 95 percent.

Coconut oil repelled bed bugs and ticks for two weeks, far longer than DEET’s three days of effectiveness.

The downside however is that the concentration of coconut oil compounds required to effectively repel mosquitoes is far greater than the amount of DEET required. 

However, you could mix coconut oil with essential oil to make a dermal pomade, and you can also find commercial sprays which feature coconut oil and other natural ingredients. 

Does Vicks Vapor Rub work for mosquito repellent?

If you’ve ever used Vicks VapoRub, you’ll know that it has a notoriously strong smell. 

What you may not know is that it contains cedarleaf oil, which is a natural insect repellent. 

To use Vicks as a mosquito repellent,  rub a little on your skin.  You needn’t cover your entire body in it, just apply small dabs on your ankles, wrists, neck, inner elbows, knees, and behind your ears.  

The strong smell of menthol will repel mosquitoes and other pests. 

Conclusion: how to repel mosquitoes while camping 

So, now you know everything there is to know about repelling mosquitoes while you camp.  

Mosquitos are a huge annoyance, but the good news is that there’s a myriad of ways to keep them at bay, and you don’t need to break the bank on expensive repellents, as there are many natural methods you can use which make use of products you probably already have in your home. 

Here’s a summary of the key points: 

  • A firepit or campfire is an easy way to keep mosquitoes away as they hate the smoke, and there are different woods and herbs you can use as an extra measure. 
  • Essential oils such as citronella can be applied to your tent and skin as a natural repellent. 
  • Pay attention to where you pitch your tent – a breezy spot away from stagnant water is best. 
  • Never leave your tent door open and avoid going in and out frequently.
  • You can apply a mosquito repellent or natural repellent to your tent and the mesh panels, or some tents come ready mosquito-proofed. 
  • Inspect your tent for any holes or rips before your camping trip. 
  • Vicks Vapour Rub is a great deterrent – mosquitoes hate the strong menthol smell.
  • Coconut oil may also be effective, though there is limited research on this, so you might want to combine it with another form of repellent such as an essential oil. 

Hopefully, if you take on board these tips you’ll have a camping trip free of mosquito bites!