Camping outdoors can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience. However, one downside is dealing with pesky bugs like flies that can quickly ruin your outdoor adventures. Knowing how to Get Rid of Flies while camping is essential for enjoying bug-free trips in the great outdoors.
In this guide, we’ll explore various natural, chemical-free ways to repel flies at your campsite. We’ll also provide tips on keeping flies out of your tent and choosing the best insect repellents to apply directly to your skin. With a multifaceted approach, you can effectively combat those bothersome flies and mosquitoes during your camping excursions.
Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away When Camping
The first line of defense against flies and mosquitoes is using natural repellents. These effective options can help deter flies from your campsite without the need for harsh chemicals. Here are some of the top natural solutions:
1. Essential Oil Repellents
Certain essential oils contain compounds that naturally repel insects like flies, mosquitoes, and gnats. To make a simple repellent spray, mix a few drops of essential oil with water in a spray bottle. Some of the best choices include lemon eucalyptus, citronella, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, and tea tree oils. The refreshing scents will help mask human odors that attract bugs.
2. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
One of the most powerful essential oil insect repellents is lemon eucalyptus oil. The CDC has found it to be an effective alternative to mainstream chemical repellents like DEET. Simply mix a few drops into a carrier oil and apply it directly to exposed skin when camping. The strong citronella-like aroma helps keep flies away naturally.
3. Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic can be used to create an insect repellent spray. Chop or crush onions and garlic cloves and soak them in water overnight. Strain the mixture and add to a spray bottle, then spritz around your campsite and tent perimeter. Flies hate the strong sulfurous compounds emitted.
4. Plant-Based Repellents
Certain plants naturally contain compounds that deter flies, like citronella grass, catnip, and basil. Bring cuttings or essential oils from these plants and keep them around seating areas, in your tent vestibule, or around the perimeter of your camp to help repel insects. Their aromas mask human scent trails.
Plain white vinegar makes an effective natural fly repellent. Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution around your tent and camping area. The acidic aroma helps mask odors that attract flies while deterring them from landing. Vinegar also neutralizes fly pheromones, confusing them.
Using natural repellents is an excellent first line of defense for keeping flies at bay around your campsite. Now let’s look at tips for keeping flies out of your tent itself.
How to Keep Flies Away Outside the Tent
Flies can easily slip through tiny openings in your tent, seeking shade and food remnants. Here are some key strategies for keeping flies out of your tent:
1. Examine Your Tent for Holes and Tears
Before each trip, inspect your tent closely and patch up any small holes, tears, or openings in the screen or fabric. Use tent sealant to cover larger holes. Flies can squeeze through surprisingly small gaps so be diligent finding and sealing potential entry points.
2. Avoid Camping Where It’s Damp
Flies thrive in moist areas where they can lay eggs in damp soil, compost, or near standing water. Choose an elevated camping spot and avoid setting up near wetlands, creeks, and wet vegetation. Flies gravitate toward dampness so keep your tent on drier ground.
3. Avoid Trees and Other Thick Vegetation
While shade is nice, avoid dense trees, brush, and thickets which provide perfect hiding spots for flies. Pitch your tent in a more open area that gets more sunlight and wind flow. This makes your site less hospitable for flies to rest in nearby foliage.
4. Pitch Up in a Breezy Spot
Look for campsites open to breezes which help deter flies and keep them from congregating near your tent. Position the tent door facing the prevailing wind direction. Constant airflow makes it harder for flies to fly around and enter your tent.
5. Keep the Inner Door of Your Tent Closed at All Times
Zip up the inner mesh door of your tent whenever you are not actively using it. Only unzip when entering/exiting, then immediately re-close it. The mesh helps block flies while allowing airflow when shut. Don’t leave it open as flies will sneak through.
6. Set Up a Mosquito Net
Consider hanging an overhead mosquito net in your tent’s vestibule if available. This creates a protective barrier between the tent interior and exterior while allowing you to keep the actual door open for better ventilation. The netting prevents flies from flying straight into your tent when entering/exiting.
7. Use a Bug Zapper
Position a corded electric bug zapper near your campsite help draw flies away from your tent. The UV light attracts them to the zap grid. Just be sure to place it at least 10 feet from your tent to prevent attracting more flies.
8. Dispose of Rubbish Properly
Don’t leave discarded food, beverage cans, wrappers, fish carcasses, or other trash around your campsite. Properly pack it out or dispose of it in bear-proof bins. Flies feed on debris so keeping your site clean eliminates food sources.
9. Avoid Shining Bright Lights Inside Your Tent at Night
Bright flashlight beams or lantern light at night attracts flies and insects. Use dim red light modes and avoid flashing bright light inside your tent or vestibule as it can draw in flies from outside. Keep lighting use to a minimum.
10. Use a Citronella Candle to Ward Off Insects
Place a citronella candle or torches around the perimeter of your campsite at dusk when flies are most active. The citronella fragrance masks odors that attract flies and bugs while repelling them from the area. Just be mindful of fire safety and never leave candles unattended.
11. Start a Campfire to Ward Off Insects
An evening campfire creates smoke that flies detest. Position your tent upwind of the fire so blowing smoke travels across your site. The smoke’s odor and haze help mask human scent trails and deter flies from congregating near your tent at night when sleeping.
12. Avoid Spraying Fragrances in Your Tent
While some essential oils can repel flies, avoid using scented sprays inside your tent as they can attract bugs when used heavily. Flies are drawn to fragrance so keep spray use minimal while camping and stick to scent-free products inside your tent interior.
With a combination of sealing up entry points, choosing less hospitable campsites, and using natural fly deterrents, you can effectively discourage flies from invading your tent’s space.
How to Keep Mosquitoes Away While Camping
Along with flies, mosquitoes can also crash an otherwise peaceful camping trip. Here are some key tips to deter pesky mosquitoes at your campsite:
- Use CDC or EPA approved insect repellent lotions/sprays on exposed skin when outside the tent. Reapply every few hours.
- Cover up with lightweight, loose clothing at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Use a portable fan inside your tent as mosquitoes struggle to fly against wind currents.
- Seal tent screens, gaps, and holes with tape to prevent entry points for mosquitoes.
- Eliminate standing water around your campsite to deter mosquito breeding grounds.
- Set up mosquito netting around tent vestibules or over tent door openings.
- Apply natural repellents like eucalyptus, lemon, or lavender oil around camp and on clothing hems.
- Burn citronella candles or mosquito coils around your camp at dusk to repel mosquitoes from the area.
With some savvy prevention techniques, you can enjoy mosquito-free camping trips even in peak seasons when they are prevalent.
The Best Mosquito Repellent Devices for Camping
For added protection against mosquitoes when camping, certain at-home repellents can also be highly effective outdoors:
DEET remains one of the most widely used and effective mosquito repellent ingredients. Look for spray repellents containing 30-50% DEET for robust protection from mosquito bites when camping. Higher percentages provide longer duration but increase potential skin irritation.
Picaridin-based repellents offer similar mosquito protection to DEET but with less skin irritation in creams and sprays. Brands like Cutter, Repel, and OFF! make camping-friendly picaridin lotions ideal for repeated application outdoors.
Permethrin is a synthetic repellent that can be applied directly onto clothing, shoes, tents, and camping gear for lasting mosquito protection. It remains effective through multiple washes. Treat items before your trip for the best extended mosquito deterrence at your campsite.
4. IR3535® Repellents
IR3535 is the repellent ingredient in products like Skin So Soft by Avon that offers plant-based, DEET-free protection from mosquitoes. Though it requires more frequent reapplication, it’s a good natural option for camping when applied liberally and consistently.
Choosing gear, equipment, campsite spots, and the right repellents tailored to your needs helps craft a custom mosquito deterrence strategy. Test different options to find your optimal mix of repellents and defenses. A robust anti-mosquito regimen keeps this nuisance at bay.
Check Our Video Guide How we deal with Flies and Mosquitoes when camping:
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Dealing with annoying flies and mosquitoes when trying to enjoy the outdoors can certainly dampen your camping experience if you’re not prepared. While these persistent pests will always be drawn to humid, shady camps with humans present, you can take active steps to dramatically minimize their presence and deter them from your site.
It begins with leveraging natural repellents strategically around your camping area. Herbal scents, plant oils, vinegars, and smoke deter flies effectively without needing to rely solely on chemical options.
Sealing up your tent properly also goes a long way toward keeping flies and mosquitoes at bay, along with camping in less damp, open areas. Be vigilant at all times shutting the tent’s mesh inner door immediately after entering and exiting.
Supplement natural repellents with Skin-applied chemical repellents like DEET sprays or Permethrin treated clothes when mosquitoes are especially thick. Avoid heavily-scented sprays inside your tent interior to prevent attracting more flies.
While flies and mosquitoes will always be an inevitability of camping outdoors, savvy campers can certainly stack the odds in their favor. With diligence and the right mix of natural repellents, strategic tent positioning, and sealing off entry points, you can experience camping with far fewer bites.
Try out some of these techniques for keeping flies at bay and get ready to enjoy largely pest-free camping adventures all season long. Just remember to always store food securely, dispose of waste properly, and pitch your tent in less inviting areas for flies. With some thoughtful planning, flies don’t have to ruin your next awesome camping experience.
How do I keep bugs away while camping?
Some of the best ways to keep bugs away while camping include using natural repellents like essential oils and plant clippings around your site, eliminating food debris, pitching your tent in breezy sunny spots away from vegetation, keeping tent inner doors closed, and applying topical chemical repellent lotions.
What is the best way to keep flies out of your tent?
It’s important to fully seal up any holes, tears or openings in your tent screens or fabric. Always keep the mesh inner door closed and use a mosquito net around tent entrances. Camp in open, drier spots away from dampness and thick brush. Use natural repellents around the exterior and avoid spraying scents inside.
What scent keeps flies away?
Flies hate the smell of vinegar, lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, lemongrass, citronella, and tea tree oil. Use these scents around your campsite in sprays or candles to help mask odors that attract flies and bugs while repelling them from the area.
What is the most effective mosquito repellent for camping?
The most effective mosquito repellents for camping are those containing active ingredients like DEET or Picaridin in high percentages, which offer long-lasting protection from bites when continually reapplied. Treating clothes and gear with Permethrin also repels mosquitoes for extended periods while outdoors.
What should you not do when camping with flies?
Avoid camping near standing water sources, thick vegetation, or damp areas which attract flies. Don’t spray fragrances or use bright lights inside your tent at night. Never leave food debris laying around your campsite. Don’t leave tent doors wide open or use scented products excessively inside your tent interior.