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7 Ways of Keeping Mosquitos Away While Camping

Explore the best methods on how to keep mosquitos away while camping and say goodbye to uncomfortable nights in the great outdoors.

You’ve been planning your RV summer vacation for months.

You’re ready to leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind to enjoy serene sunsets, crackling campfires, and the unique camaraderie that only a campground can offer.

But one tiny detail threatens to put a damper on your perfect getaway – mosquitoes.

These pesky little buzzers are more than just annoying; they can turn a dream vacation into an itchy nightmare, not to mention the diseases they can carry.

As an RVer, you’re probably all too familiar with this scenario. After all, many of the most beautiful camping spots are also prime mosquito territory.

But don’t let these tiny insects deter you from hitting the road this summer.

Our guide on keeping mosquitos at bay during camping trips is brimming with practical strategies. 

These tips will ensure you can relish your RV vacation, free from the endless cycle of swatting and scratching. 

From choosing a suitable campsite to using repellents and dealing with bites, we’ve got you covered.

How to Keep Mosquitos Away While Camping cover

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At a Glance: How to Keep Mosquitos Away While Camping

Understanding Mosquitos

Before we dive into the solutions, let’s take a brief moment to understand our opponent.

Mosquitos, tiny as they are, are pretty complex. They breed in standing water and are attracted to humans, primarily due to the carbon dioxide we exhale and the body heat we emit.

Besides being annoying, these little bugs can pose health risks, as some carry diseases like West Nile virus or Dengue.

Scary, isn’t it?

A close up of a mosquito biting an arm

7 Tips to Keep Mozzies from Ruining Your Camping Trip

#1 Plan Ahead: Pre-Camping Measures

They say prevention is better than cure, and they’re not wrong!

One of the first steps to a mosquito-free camping trip starts with your campsite selection.

Avoid sites near standing water, as they are mosquito breeding grounds.

And don’t forget about your gear!

Treating your RV and camping gear with permethrin spray can create a protective barrier against these pests.

It’s a simple step, but it goes a long way in ensuring a mosquito-free camping experience.

Permethrin Spray

Sawyer Products SP6572 Twin Pack Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent Trigger Spray, 24 oz,Yellow & SP618 Premium Permethrin Insect Repellent & Tents, Aerosol Spray, 18-Ounce

#2 Using Natural Mosquito Repellents

Mother Nature provides us with an array of tools to combat mosquitos. Many of these remedies are already in your pantry or garden.

And if not, they’re easily bought from grocery stores or Amazon.

Vinegar as a Mosquito Repellent

Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar can serve as effective mosquito deterrents.

These vinegars work because mosquitos dislike their smell and taste.

You can make a simple homemade mosquito repellent by mixing equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

Spray this mixture on your skin, clothes, and around your campsite for an eco-friendly and cost-effective repellent.

A selection of essential oils known to repel mosquitos.

Essential Oils

Essential oils aren’t just for aromatherapy; many can also keep mosquitos at bay.

Here’s a list of mosquito-repelling essential oils:

  • Lavender: Apart from its soothing scent, lavender oil is known to repel mosquitos. Apply some on your skin or add a few drops to a diffuser to avoid those pesky bugs.
  • Citronella: This is one of the most commonly used ingredients in mosquito repellents. It’s very effective, but remember, its protection can evaporate quickly, so you might need to reapply frequently.
  • Clove: This powerful essential oil can repel mosquitos effectively. However, it should always be diluted because it can cause skin irritation.
  • Peppermint: Besides its fresh, invigorating scent, peppermint oil can also deter mosquitos.
  • Basil, Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, and Rosemary: These oils aren’t only great for cooking and keeping mosquitos away. Add a few drops of any of these oils to a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil, and apply to exposed skin.

Remember to do a patch test before applying any essential oil directly to your skin.

Essential Oils To Repel Mozzies
Trail Guard Essential Oil Blend 2oz - Outdoor & Camping Essentials - Keeps Mosquitoes, Bugs & Insects Away Naturally with Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil & Vanilla Essential Oil

Repellent Plants

Certain plants, like marigolds and lemongrass, are known to repel mosquitos.

Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. Planting these around your campsite or having pots near your RV entrance can help deter mosquitos.

Lemongrass, on the other hand, contains citronella, a popular mosquito repellent.

Other natural repellents include garlic and neem oil. Eating garlic can repel mosquitos as they dislike the smell.

When applied to the skin, neem oil can offer up to 12 hours of protection against mosquitos.

Aloe Vera Plant
Clovers Garden Lemongrass Plants - Two (2) Live Plants – Non-GMO - Not Seeds - Each 4" to 8

#3 Using Commercial Mosquito Repellents

While natural mosquito repellents have their place, sometimes you need a bit more power to keep those pesky mosquitos at bay.

DEET-Based Repellents

When it comes to commercial repellents, DEET-based products are often the first choice for many campers.

DEET (diethyltoluamide) is a powerful and effective ingredient that protects against mosquitos.

It works by confusing mosquitos’ sense of direction, making it hard for them to land on your skin.

DEET-based repellents come in various forms, including sprays, lotions, and wipes, and in different concentrations.

A higher concentration doesn’t mean it’s more effective; it just lasts longer.

It’s worth noting that while DEET is very effective, some people may experience skin irritation.

Always follow the instructions on the label, avoid applying it over cuts or wounds, and wash it off once you’re back indoors.

DEET-based Repellent
Sawyer Products SP7142 Premium Maxi DEET, 100% DEET Insect Repellent, Pump Spray, 4-Ounce, Twin Pack

Citronella Candles

Another popular commercial mosquito repellent option is citronella candles. These candles release the smoke and scent of citronella oil, which mosquitos find unpleasant.

To use citronella candles effectively, place them around the perimeter of your camping area.

Remember that wind can reduce their effectiveness, and they only protect a limited area.

So, they’re best used in conjunction with other forms of mosquito repellents for optimal results.

DEET-based Repellent
Citronella Candles Outdoor Large Bucket Candle, 3 Wick 17 oz Scented Candles Gift Set 100 Hour Burning for Patio Yard Indoors Garden Home Balcony Natural Soy Wax Candles Set Women Wedding Birthday

Mosquito Coils and Mats

Mosquito coils and mats are a popular choice for many campers.

They give off aromatic smoke or vapor that renders any mozzie that comes into contact with it less likely to dine out on you.

Light a coil or place a mat in a suitable burner and let it do its job.

However, remember to use these products in well-ventilated areas as the smoke can irritate some people.

Mozzie Coils
W4W Mosquito Repellent Coils - Outdoor Use Reaches Up to 10 feet - Each Burns for 5-7 Hours (Three Pack Contains 12 coils & 6 Stands)

Other Commercial Repellents

Apart from DEET and citronella candles, there are other commercial repellents available.

Picaridin is a less irritating alternative to DEET that doesn’t damage plastics or synthetic fabrics.

Thermacell devices are another excellent option. They heat a chemically treated mat that releases a mosquito repellent into the air, providing a 15-foot protection zone.

Thermacell Mosquito Repeller
Thermacell E55 E-Series Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller with 20' Mosquito Protection Zone; Blue; Includes 12-Hr Repellent Refill; DEET Free Bug Spray Alternative; Scent Free; No Candle or Flame

#4 Dressing to Protect

Believe it or not, your clothes can significantly impact your attractiveness to mosquitos.

Dressing appropriately is a simple yet effective way to reduce the chances of mosquito bites.

The Importance of Long-Sleeved Shirts, Pants, and Socks

Mosquitos are attracted to exposed skin. So, one of the simplest ways to protect yourself is by reducing the amount of skin you leave uncovered.

Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks can provide a physical barrier that prevents mosquitos from reaching your skin.

Choose lightweight and breathable fabrics to stay cool, especially in summer.

If camping in a mosquito-heavy area, consider tucking your pants into your socks for extra protection.

Campers wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect from mosquito bites.

Insect-Repellent Clothing

For additional protection, consider investing in insect-repellent clothing. 

They’re treated with permethrin, a synthetic chemical that repels and kills mosquitos and other insects.

You can find everything from hats and shirts to pants and socks in insect-repellent varieties.

These products offer long-lasting protection, and the repellent remains effective for many washes.

If you spend much time outdoors, it’s a practical solution, but its effectiveness does wear off.

A person spraying permethrin on camping gear to repel mosquitos

DEET-Free Insect Repellent Bracelets

For another DEET-free option, consider insect-repellent bracelets.

These bands are infused with natural mosquito repellents like citronella, lemongrass, and geraniol oils.

They’re easy to wear, and you don’t have to worry about applying anything to your skin.

However, remember that their protection range is limited, so they’re best used as an additional measure rather than your primary defense.

Insect Repellent Bracelets
Cliganic 10 Pack Mosquito Repellent Bracelets, DEET-Free Bands, Individually Wrapped (Packaging May Vary)

Other Protective Measures

Wearing bright colors can also help, as mosquitos are known to be attracted to dark colors.

Additionally, avoid wearing perfumes or scented lotions, as the sweet smell can attract mosquitos.

#5 Campfire Tricks

A campfire is not only a source of warmth and a place to cook your meals when camping, but it can also serve as a mosquito repellent.

Here are some campfire tricks to keep those little pests away.

A family safely enjoying a campfire that helps deter mosquitos.

How Building a Fire Can Reduce Mosquitos

Mosquitos are not fans of smoke.

It confuses their sense of direction and makes it difficult for them to land and feed.

Therefore, having a campfire can reduce the number of mosquitos in your immediate vicinity.

However, be aware that the fire’s heat can increase the carbon dioxide around you, which could attract mosquitos.

So, combining your campfire with other mosquito-repelling methods is crucial for the best results.

Portable Fire Pit
Portable Plug Fire Pit, 15.8 Inch Collapsible Firepits for Outside Wood Burning, Folding Outdoor Indoor Accessories for BBQ Camping Travel or Picnic, Foldable Fire Pits Bonfire of Backyard Patio

Best Types of Wood to Repel Mosquitos

While any smoke can deter mosquitos, burning specific types of wood can enhance this effect. Here are a few options:

  • Pine: Burning pine creates a lot of smoke, which can effectively repel mosquitos.
  • Cedar: The natural oils in cedar wood are known to repel many insects, including mosquitos.
  • Sage and Rosemary: Throwing these herbs into your campfire releases a scent that mosquitos find unpleasant. If you’re cooking on the fire, they can also add a pleasant aroma to your food!

Remember, when collecting wood for your campfire, only gather what’s fallen naturally and follow all local regulations to protect the environment.

Other Campfire Tricks

Positioning your seating area upwind of the campfire will allow the smoke to blow across your campsite, creating a mosquito-free zone.

A well-managed campfire can be an effective tool in your anti-mosquito arsenal. 

#6 Screen Tents: Your Personal Mosquito-Free Zone

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors without the constant buzzing and biting of mosquitos, consider investing in a screen tent.

A screen tent is essentially a tent with mesh walls.

The mesh walls allow you to enjoy the view and the breeze while keeping mosquitos and other insects out.

It’s like having your mosquito-free zone in the middle of the wilderness!

Benefits of Using Screen Tents

  • Protection: The primary benefit of a screen tent is protection from mosquitos and other bugs. Whether you’re eating, playing games, or simply relaxing, you can do it without the annoyance of insect intruders.
  • Versatility: Screen tents come in different sizes and styles, making them suitable for various activities. Some are large enough to fit over a picnic table, while others are perfect for a couple of camping chairs.
  • Ventilation: Thanks to their mesh walls, screen tents provide excellent ventilation. This makes them a great place to cool off on hot summer days.
Camping Screen Tent
CLAM Quick-Set Escape 11.5 x 11.5 Foot Portable Pop Up Outdoor Camping Gazebo Screen Tent 6 Sided Canopy Shelter with Ground Stakes & Carry Bag, Brown

How to Choose a Screen Tent

When choosing a screen tent, consider the following factors:

  • Size: Choose a size that fits your needs. Consider how many people will be using it and for what activities.
  • Quality: Look for a tent with robust, durable mesh that can withstand the elements and resist tearing.
  • Ease of setup: Some screen tents can be quite complex to set up. Look for one that you can quickly assemble and disassemble.

Using Your Screen Tent Effectively

To get the most out of your screen tent, avoid areas with high mosquito activity, like standing water.

Keep the doors zipped shut as much as possible to prevent mosquitos from getting inside.

#7 Exterminate!

While all the methods we’ve discussed are excellent for repelling mosquitos, sometimes you need to take a more aggressive approach.

If your campsite is swarming with these pesky insects, it might be time to consider extermination methods.

Bug zappers attract mosquitos with light and then kill them with electricity.

They can be very effective, but they also tend to attract other insects, some of which are beneficial.

Therefore, they should be used judiciously.

Outdoor Bug Zapper
FVOAI Bug Zapper Outdoor, Electronic Mosquito Zapper Fly Zapper for Outdoor and Indoor (Black)

Post-Mosquito Bite Care While Camping

Even with the best prevention methods, you may still have a few mosquito bites during your camping trip.

Here’s how to take care of them effectively.

Immediate Care

When you notice a mosquito bite, clean the area with warm water and mild soap.

It helps remove potential bacteria from the skin surface and prevent infection.

Soothing the Itch

Mosquito bites itch because of the body’s reaction to the mosquito’s saliva. Here are a few methods to soothe the itch:

  • Cold Compress: Apply a cold pack or a damp cloth soaked in cold water to the bite. The cold can help reduce inflammation and numb the area, providing immediate relief from itching.
  • Aloe Vera: Known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera can relieve mosquito bite itch. If you have an aloe plant, simply break off a leaf and apply the gel directly to the bite.
  • Hydrocortisone Cream or Calamine Lotion: These over-the-counter remedies can help reduce itchiness and inflammation.
A camper applying hydrocortisone cream on a mosquito bite.

Avoid Scratching

It’s crucial to avoid scratching mosquito bites. Scratching can break the skin, leading to infection.

Plus, once you start at that itch, you just can’t stop!

If you find it hard to resist the urge, try covering the bite with a bandage or bandaid.

Seek Medical Help If Needed

While most mosquito bites are harmless, some can cause severe allergic reactions or transmit diseases.

If you experience symptoms like fever, severe headache, body aches, nausea, or vomiting, seek medical attention immediately.

A close up of irritating mosquito bites on a camper's bare legs

Preventing Infection

To prevent infection, keep the bite clean and avoid scratching. If you notice signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, pus, or worsening pain, seek medical attention.

In conclusion, taking care of mosquito bites while camping involves:

  • cleaning the bite, 
  • soothing the itch, 
  • avoiding scratching, and 
  • being vigilant for signs of infection or disease. 

With these steps, you can ensure a mosquito bite doesn’t ruin your camping adventure.

In Conclusion

Camping is an opportunity to connect with nature, and mosquitos shouldn’t ruin it.

Before you go, select a site away from standing water and treat your gear with permethrin spray.

Use natural and commercial repellents to deter mosquitos, and dress appropriately with long sleeves, pants, insect-repellent clothing, or bracelets for extra protection.

Despite precautions, you might get a bite or two. Clean the area, soothe the itch, avoid scratching, and watch for signs of infection or disease.

Ready to take on the great outdoors? Share your camping experiences and mosquito-fighting tips with us in the comments. 

Let’s make camping more about nature and less about mosquitos. 

Happy camping!

Get Ready for Summer