Camping is all about experiencing everything nature has to offer, and that includes pesky and dangerous insects.
If you hate bugs, mosquitos, or any insect that sits and picks on the skin, camping will be hard for you, dear friend. But that doesn’t have to be that way every time you venture out because the best insect repellents are here to rescue us.
Whether you’re hiking on a steep trail, sitting around the camp, or lazily lying inside your tent, applying insect repellents beforehand will provide protection from biting insects.
This way, you can go on with your activity comfortably without the fear of catching Dengue, Zika, or any insect-borne diseases after a few days.
On that note, we’ll be sharing with you some information regarding the mechanism by which insect repellents work, top tips to keep insect away while camping, and lastly, a carefully selected list of the best insect repellents in the market.
How Do Insect Repellents Work?
Insects, especially mosquitoes, are thought to be attracted to humans through carbon dioxide emissions, the scent of sweat, and body heat.
These are just some theories of course, but scientists have revealed that one of the most probable reasons why people are particularly the ones prone to attack, among other living things, is somehow connected with the human body’s natural body smell.
Fun fact: Mosquitoes can smell a thousand times better than us! Hence, insect repellents are designed to evaporate on the skin, with its molecules dispersing and blocking the insect’s sense of smell thereby preventing it from reaching its target.
This is how common insect-repellent ingredients such as Picaridin or diethyltoluamide (DEET) work. With a concentration ranging from 7.5 to 98%, DEET provides reliable protection from insects for up to ten hours. After this period, you may need to reapply it.
DEET is not proven to be entirely safe, especially in high concentrations. Many clinical researches have linked the use of the compound to seizures and damages to objects it comes in contact with such as rubber, plastic, leather, etc. Thus, it’s imperative to wash your hands after application of repellents containing DEET.
Since DEET presents risks at high concentrations, topical products containing 30-40% DEET is the only concentration deemed safe for human use. For children, no more than 30% DEET is suggested. Also, it should not be applied to irritated or inflamed skin, cuts, and wounds.
DEET tops the list when it comes to effective repellent ingredients. But since it is associated with some health risks, people may want to look for alternatives which don’t impart side effects, particularly natural insect repellents.
But the question is, do natural insect repellents work?
Do Natural Insect Repellents Work?
Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, citronella, and tea tree oil are plant-derived extracts commonly used in natural repellants.
They are safer and seem to cause fewer health problems or none at all.
Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) are considered as the topnotchers when it comes to efficacy.
OLE is extracted from the gum eucalyptus tree and has already been proven to repel insects to some extent, similar to repellents containing low concentrations of DEET.
Picaridin molecule, on the other hand, is modeled after a naturally-occurring chemical in black pepper plants. Research suggests that at levels of 20% and above, picaridin offers as much protection from insect bites as DEET. However, below 20% concentrations were evaluated to be less effective.
A great thing about Picaridin is it’s safe for even for infant use, though we can’t say as much with OLE as it may sting the eyes.
Making A Mosquito Trap
Do you know that you can quickly reduce the number of bugs and mosquitoes lingering in your campsite without applying topical repellents?
All you need are plastic bottles, warm water, brown sugar, and yeast. Place a couple of these plastic traps around your tent or campsite, and you’re all good.
Learn how to make a mosquito trap below. Hope it helps!
5 Tips On How To Keep Insects Away While Outdoors
1. Use Unscented Hygiene Products
Do you still recall earlier how insects are mostly attracted to our body’s scents? Surprisingly, the magnitude of their attraction intensifies with the addition of fragrant products such as perfumes, scented soaps, and deodorants.
Thus, when you’re planning to go outdoors, use unscented hygiene products to keep insects from targeting you. Simply put, be unattractive (not physically, of course).
2. Choose Dry Camping Spots
Insects frequently lay their larvae on shallow water bodies and damp places like marshes, ditches, slow-moving streams, and so on.
To lessen the number of bites you’ll surely be getting, choose high and dry spots quite far from water bodies where these pesky insects thrive.
3. Cover Your Body From Head To Toe
Dress up in long sleeves, waterproof shoes, dry-fit pants, and wear caps. This outfit lessens skin exposure and therefore slims down the chance of getting feasted on by insects.
Interestingly, there’s this clothing infused with a chemical called Permethrin which acts as an insect shield. Fabrics made with this chemical impart insect repellency and typically retains its efficacy for up to 75 washings.
4. Always Keep Your Mesh Tent Doors Closed
5. Make Use Of Insect Repelling Tools
Citronella candles, mosquito coils, and mosquito lanterns are all very useful products meant to deter mosquitos.
They emit scents that scare mosquitos away, leaving your vicinity insect-free. Well, they can’t rid the area of mosquitos completely, but they can definitely reduce the mosquito population in the vicinity.