DIY Bug Repellents when Travelling in Nature

No matter how technologically advanced we become, there’s something alluring about the great outdoors that we just can’t resist. One of the best ways to unplug from everyday life and create unforgettable memories is to go on a camping trip. However, travelling in nature can quickly become bothersome if we don’t come prepared to deal with its most numerous inhabitants – the insects.

Biting pests lurking outdoors

Bugs are part of nature and the ecosystem. However, many of them tend not only to be a nuisance but may also carry all kinds of diseases. The creepy crawlies are most prevalent during the warmer seasons and can quickly become bothersome to deal with for any camper.

The most common insects you are likely to encounter are:

  • Mosquitoes;
  • Bees;
  • Black Flies;
  • Wasps;
  • Ticks;
  • Ants;
  • Spiders

However, they don’t have to ruin your camping trip, as there are many ways to repel them. All you need to do is prepare in advance, which will ensure you will have an unforgettable vacation outdoors.

Traditional bug sprays and creams

Traditional bug sprays contain an ingredient called DEET. Generally, the more DEET it has, the more effective a repellent is. These products are recommended for places with a high risk of malaria and other mosquito-related diseases.

If you are hanging out in the backyard or undertaking a camping trip, you might want to consider natural repellents, especially if you have kids, for they are more sensitive to DEET. If you live in a heavily-infested mosquito area, it might be a good idea to call upon pest control professionals.

Some people tend to avoid DEET products because of their strong smell or to avoid potential eye and skin irritation. To prevent such things from occurring, it’s best to apply the spray or cream directly onto your clothes early in the morning, before you wear them. All in all, it’s always recommended you also carry a spray or cream, just in case the pesky mosquitoes or other insects get out of hand.

Homemade pest repellents

If you are not travelling abroad to some warmer area with many mosquitoes and tropical diseases, it may be better to create your own homemade repellent. You’ve probably heard that essential oils are an excellent natural alternative to DEET and can often achieve good results.

The most effective compounds are:

  • Citronella;
  • Peppermint oil;
  • Cinnamon oil;
  • Lemon eucalyptus oil;
  • Lavender oil.

Below we’ll review the most effective homemade sprays you can use.

Citronella Spray

Citronella is one of the most potent compounds when it comes to dealing with unwanted bugs. It has a pleasant smell that they find absolutely repelling.

Ingredients needed:

  • An empty Spray Bottle;
  • Citronella Essential Oil;
  • Witch Hazel.

How to make it:

  • Mix equal parts water and witch hazel;
  • Add 25-30 drops of Citronella oil;
  • Shake the bottle well, and you are done.

Peppermint Spray

Peppermint oil is another strong compound that can keep each creepy-crawly at bay.

Ingredients needed:

  • An empty spray bottle;
  • Peppermint oil;
  • Water

How to make it:

  • Mix two cups of water with 15-20 drops of peppermint oil;
  • Shake well before using it;
  • Store it in a refrigerator to keep the smell strong for optimal performance.

Lavender Spray

Another great option is lavender. It does not only keep the insects at bay, but it also has a pleasant smell, which many find soothing.

Ingredients needed:

  • An empty spray bottle;
  • Lavender essential oil;
  • Witch hazel;
  • Water

How to make it:

  • Mix one part lavender essential oil with 10 parts witch hazel;
  • Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients;
  • Spray to apply.

Bring foods that bugs hate

Apart from the DYI sprays, you can also bring some delicious foods with you, the smell of which bugs absolutely hate. Bring them over to your camping trip to ensure that the pesky creepy crawlies do not bother you.

Here are the most effective ones:

  • Lemon;
  • Orange;
  • Garlic;
  • Grapefruit;
  • Apple cider vinegar.

Use wild plants to repel bugs

There may be various greens with strong anti-bug properties depending on where you are. However, you don’t have to be a botanist to make use of such wild plants to ward off any pesky critters. You need a wild plant field guide to verify the species with certainty, and you are good to go.

The best and most common of these insect repellents include:

  • Wild Geranium (these plants are excellent bug repellers, especially against mosquitoes)
  • Bracken Fern (this weed is pretty standard and produces ecdysones, which have strong anti-bug properties)
  • Paw Paw (you can find them around rivers and identify them by the tropical-looking fruits; leaves can be crushed and applied to the skin to repel most insects)
  • Catnip (a member of the mint family, its leaves can be crushed and applied to your skin for protection against mosquitoes).

Bring a protective net

Bringing a bug net is not only necessary for a good night’s sleep, but in some parts of the world, it can literally save your life. Apart from being painful, bites from insects can transmit many diseases, ranging from mild to life-threatening.

Some of the various types of diseases include:

  • Lyme disease or Q-fever from ticks
  • Plague from fleas
  • Malaria, dengue, encephalitis, and West Nile virus from mosquitoes

Protective nets are simply much more effective than wearing multiple layers of clothing. So if you are going to sleep outdoors, make sure you bring a bug net for bed use, for it will protect you against insects and dangerous encounters with venomous scorpions or snakes. If you have to buy one, look for a net with a close mesh.

There are various types of nets, some of which are:

  • Mosquito net tent;
  • Bug net for bed use;
  • Netted headgear;
  • Hammock with mosquito net;
  • Portable mosquito net.

Before buying one, you should also check if it’s treated with permethrin or not. The advantage of this chemical is that it is effective at repelling insects. You can also buy permethrin spray and treat the net yourself. However, you must never do it indoors, for if you have any pets, the fumes may lead to serious health complications, even death.

Use fire and smoke to keep them away

Building a campfire works well, and although humans have used this strategy to repel insects for ages, the most important thing to consider is the type of fuel you are burning.

If you are a smoker, you also know that insects find the smell of any type of cigar repelling.

Mosquitoes are primarily known for having fine-tuned CO2 detectors, which is another way they discover us. By burning various types of wood bark, we can repel them and conceal ourselves effectively.

The most effective types of wood for this are:

Cedar (the bark is a known bug repellent, and burning it produces lots of smoke, which bugs will certainly avoid)

Eucalyptus (again, you can burn the bark to repel insects, with the added bonus of it having a delightful smell)

Pinion wood (a relatively common type of wood, with an enjoyable smell that bugs find repellant)

You can also bring your own herbs to burn in the campfire, which is an entirely natural and safe way to mask your smell and keep insects at bay. The burning herbs technique has been used for millennia because it’s effective too.

Some of the most effective ones are:

  • Lavender;
  • Sage;
  • Mint;
  • Rosemary


So, you’ve done your research, chosen the best products and items to ensure a nice vacation, and are ready to make some unforgettable memories. Camping with family and friends can be one of the most pleasant and charging activities, and with proper preparation, you will ensure that everyone will have a great time and that no pesky insects will stand in the way of that.

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