Camping should be a lot of fun and, although you can take precautions to minimise the risk of encountering flies, wasps, mosquitoes, ants and other creepy crawlies, it would be foolish to think that you can spend your time in the great outdoors without ever encountering any of these creatures – it is, after all, their home that you are venturing into. You are the guest, remember!
However, there are certain things you can do to make things as pleasant as possible during your stay in the outdoors. The amount of precautionary measures you take will also depend on the location of your trip. For example, if you’re in Australia, you might need to consider protection against scorpions, dingoes and in the U.S, there are bears that you might encounter but here in the UK, we’re lucky in that most of the pests we’ll encounter on our camping trip will, more likely, be of the small, creepy crawly or tiny flying variety. That said, they can still cause discomfort and irritation on your camping trip.
Firstly, and especially in warmer weather, it’s important to take insect repellent with you. This comes in all kinds of varieties and is designed to deter the likes of wasps, flies and mosquitoes from bothering you. Insect repellent can come in an aerosol form or as a stick application, much in the same way as deodorant. Some people swear by those which contain a chemical called DEET as the best deterrent, although others are put off by its pungent aroma. However, there are several on the market that don’t have DEET as an active ingredient if you are put off by the smell.
Whichever repellent you choose, many a camp trip is spoilt by the unwanted attention of flies, wasps, mosquitoes and the like so some kind of insect repellent should be on everyone’s camping list and certain brands can be sprayed directly onto clothing which is important as the likes of mosquitoes can still bite through thin material.
Fly sprays that kill can also be taken. There’s nothing worse than trying to get to sleep and hearing the sound of an insect or fly buzzing around the tent. However, if you take fly killer with you, care must be taken not to use it around the eating table or campfire or cooking area as it is highly flammable.
Citronella candles give off a fragrance that mosquitoes and other flying insects loathe. They come free standing or can often be found in large metal tubs and the larger variety can last for a whole evening. Not only are they good as an insect repellent, they can also provide an atmospheric light source to a camp site and warmth but you should always remember to extinguish them properly before you retire to bed.
These can be hung up from a branch of a tree at a safe distance from the branch or used flat. They burn slowly and in the same way as incense, giving off an aroma which, once again, mosquitoes and other flying objects can’t stand. Once again, you should ensure they are fully extinguished before you head off to sleep.
Other Preventative Measures
If you are not familiar with camping etiquette, there are a few other things you can do to reduce the discomfort caused by unwanted pests. You might not think that the colours of your clothing are important but it is a well known fact that mosquitoes, midges and other bugs are attracted by bright coloured clothing so it makes sense to tone down the colours of your camping wear. It’s also useful to bring one long sleeved garment, perhaps a pair of jogging pants and, maybe a hat or cap of some kind as mosquitoes tend to target the uncovered areas of your body, limbs and head firstly.
Time of Day
Many biting insects are particularly active at dawn and dusk so especially remember to cover up during these times of day.
Pitching Your Tent
Avoid setting up your tent in close proximity to stagnant water, i.e. not right next to a lake or on the bank of a river if possible. Whilst it might seem like the perfect romantic setting for your trip, still water is also home to lots of biting insects, mosquitoes and midges.
Having a citronella candle or a mosquito coil burning when you are about to enjoy your camp meal will lessen the chance of your dining experience being ruined by annoying insects. And remember to clean up your dining area thoroughly when you have finished eating and not to leave dirty pots, plates and pans lying around until morning.
You should always dispose of your rubbish in disposal bags which should be tied and secured and either disposed of in any special bins provided or stored in the boot of your car, if you have one with you and there are no readily available bins.
The ‘mozzies’ and their friends will be keeping a close eye on any food and rubbish that’s left lying around and it’s amazing how one ant can soon turn into an army if there are scraps to gorge on, not to mention other creatures like mice and hedgehogs that may venture into your campsite.
Don’t Leave Food in the Tent
If you haven’t arrived at your campsite by car, this advice isn’t always possible to heed but you should try to avoid stowing food in your tent as there are some ingenious visitors out there who won’t let a zipped tent stand in their way of a free meal. On that note, you should always try to remember to keep your tent zipped up anyway whenever you’re not going to be in it for a certain length of time to keep the flying critters out.
Many tents also come with a mosquito mesh inner door which allow you to see out of the tent, but prevents them and other flying creatures getting in and for those serious about keeping the flying pests away at all costs, you can always buy a mosquito net to place over you whilst you sleep.
Whatever precautions you decide to take, it’s always important to consider the location of your campsite, especially when abroad where there may be added dangers from the likes of snakes and other animals. However, basic prevention can ensure that your trip to the outdoors is not spoiled by uninvited ‘guests’ too much.