Keep mosquitoes away from your Camp

10 Simple Tips to Keep Mosquitoes Away from Your Camp

The RV and camping life is full of days and nights outdoors at your campsite, enjoying meals, games, conversations, fires, and relaxing. Unfortunately, unwanted guests, like mosquitoes and other insects, can quickly ruin all the fun.

Learning how to keep mosquitoes away from your camp and what products and methods work best is crucial. I took my personal experience, polled many camping friends about fighting pests, and put all the best solutions to keep your campsite free of biting, buzzing mosquitoes inside this guide.

Camping and bug bites do not need to go hand-in-hand. Instead, use the tips below to enjoy a bug-free camp!

10 Simple Tips to Keep Mosquitoes Away from Your Camp

Here are the ten best products or methods to keep mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and other flying pests away when camping. Most camping experts use two or more of the following at one time to ensure bugs won’t ruin a camping trip.

1. Strong Bug Repellent Spray

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OFF! Family Care Insect & Mosquito Repellent I, Smooth & Dry Bug Spray for the Beach, Backyard,...
10,579 Reviews
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  • DEET mosquito repellent
  • Tick repellent with powder-dry formula; not oily or greasy
  • Repels mosquitoes that may carry the Zika or Dengue or West Nile…
  • Repels mosquitoes, biting flies, gnats, ticks, chiggers and fleas
  • Aerosol mosquito spray allows for easy application in a continuous…

While most people prefer to avoid spraying chemicals onto their bodies, bug sprays that contain pesticides like DEET are hands-down the top way to stop mosquitoes from entering your camp and biting.

You can reduce exposure by wearing long sleeves, pants, a hat, socks, and shoes and spraying the clothing instead of your bare skin. Mosquitoes are always most active between dusk and dawn, April through October, so try to use a bug spray as diseases like West Nile and Zika are spread via bites.

Remember to spray your camp chairs, tables, tent exterior, and other items with the repellent to deter mosquitoes from flying into your camp.

PROS: Affordable and easy to pack and apply. Highly effective in stopping mosquitoes from biting.

CONS: Chemical ingredients like DEET are not environmentally-friendly, nor suitable for contact with skin and require a shower to clean off pesticide residue.

FINAL VERDICT: While I try to avoid using chemical bug sprays, there are times while camping when the mosquitoes are so thick and hungry that it’s the only way to gain protection.

2. Burn Candles

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594 Reviews
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Burning bug-repellent candles made with citronella oil will deter mosquitoes from entering the area as they don’t like the smell or the smoke from the burning wick.

However, it takes burning several candles around the perimeter of a seating area to be the most effective, and it takes about 30 minutes to fill the air with enough scent to scare off the mosquitoes.

PROS: Candles are inexpensive and easy to keep in your camping-supply stash. The flickering light of a candle adds a warm vibe to nighttime camp activities.

CONS: Windy days will dissipate the candle and burning coffee smoke and be useless to deter mosquitoes and flies.

FINAL VERDICT: Citronella candles only work so well to keep mosquitoes away from your camp but are great to place on tables where people congregate or where food is sitting out for guests.

3. Run a Powerful Fan

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If you have shore power while camping, running one or two powerful fans where guests hang out will make it difficult for mosquitoes, no-see-ums, gnats, and other flying insects to land and bite.

PROS: No pesticides to spray, gadgets to monitor, or candles to burn. Fans are just simple to use, work day and night, and will cool down guests on warm days.

CONS: Running fans at high speed can be noisy, making it hard to have a conversation. The wind from a fan only covers a small area.

FINAL VERDICT: Fans are a good solution when you don’t want to use chemicals or burn things to deter mosquitoes, such as when pets or children are camping with you.

4. Use a Mosquito Fogger

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Foggers, like the Ortho Home Defense Backyard Mosquito and Bug Fogger, create a fine pesticide mist that permeates plant foliage, nooks, and crannies of structures and camping gear to kill bugs on contact.

As the mist settles, it creates a barrier that kills mosquitoes that come in contact with it for up eight hours after application.

PROS: Foggers are affordable, have a simple application, and even work on those hard-to-eradicate no-see-ums. You can use the product any time of day with excellent results.

CONS: You don’t want to spray the fogger when guests are outside, as it is a potent pesticide you don’t want to inhale. You’ll need to fog the area, let it settle, and then proceed with outdoor entertaining.

FINAL VERDICT: I like to use foggers when camping in locations surrounded by dense foliage or tall grasses where mosquitoes love to hide. They work well and can keep a campsite pest free for days if it’s not too windy when you spray the product.

5. Build a Campfire

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Campfires are for more than roasting hot dogs and making s’mores. A fire will create heat and smoke that triggers mosquitoes and other flying insects to flee the area to avoid harm.

PROS: It’s a campfire; what more is there to say?!

CONS: Mosquito protection from a campfire is limited to a small area surrounding the fire pit. The smokier the fire, the more it will chase away mosquitoes, but it can also make it unbearable for people in your camp to sit outside.

FINAL VERDICT: Campfires help eliminate mosquitoes, primarily when you use them in tandem with other bug-repelling tactics. If the weather permits and local authorities don’t have a burn ban in place, I always make a campfire to enjoy the ambiance and mosquito-repelling benefits.

6. Use Essential Oils

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If you want to keep your camp as eco-friendly as possible, you can get decent mosquito protection by making a spray out of rubbing alcohol and essential oil. My favorite is mint oil because mosquitoes and ants avoid the scent.

Get an empty spray bottle, and fill it with the following:

  • 1/2 cup isopropyl alcohol
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 25 drops of essential oil

Shake the bottle well during use and spray it over your clothes, camp furniture, tents, grass, bushes, and other surfaces where you plan to hang out. Repeat after it rains or when the scent of the oil has faded.

You can also use the following:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 50 drops of essential oil

For large campsites, you can use a 2.5-gallon manual pump sprayer and prefill the container with the correct ratio of rubbing alcohol or white vinegar, then add in the essential oil when you get to camp. In addition, a large pump sprayer is easier on the hands when you want to cover your entire campsite quickly.

Mint oil isn’t the only scent that mosquitoes will avoid. You can also use eucalyptus oil, sage oil, citronella oil, and lemongrass oil. Studies show that mixing different bug-deterring essential oils into one spray bottle is less effective against mosquitoes than using one scent.

PROS: Essential oil sprays do not rely on harsh chemicals to deter pests but make your entire camp smell wonderful.

CONS: Essential oils are not cheap, and you’ll need large quantities to make a bug spray. You may need to reapply the oil spray several times daily, especially if it’s hot and dry or it rains.

FINAL VERDICT: Essential oils aren’t all hype without results; they work if the concentration is high enough. However, mixing up enough to cover a large campsite can be expensive and tedious if this is the only method you want to use.

7. Dynatrap

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I was skeptical about the Dynatrap Mosquito and Flying Insect Trap, so I bought a model that covers about 1/4 square acre (there are different sizes) and put it to the test. The result? It passes with flying colors!

I hung the unit about ten feet from my outdoor seating area and let it run per instructions. The unit should run 24/7; the longer it runs, the more effectively it works.

The Dynatrap uses a special mosquito-attracting light and aroma pouch to draw biting female mosquitoes and other flying bugs to the unit. It then sucks them into the trap using a fan so they cannot escape.

PROS: It has excellent campsite coverage and operates almost silently, so it doesn’t interfere with campsite entertaining. Emptying the trap is simple, and the unit is weather-resistant, so you can hang it without worrying about rain.

CONS: The unit requires a 110-volt outlet nearby to plug into, and the light and aroma pouch need regular replacement, which adds to the overall cost. The trap isn’t very effective against biting flies and will suck in beneficial flying insects like bees or moths that get too close.

FINAL VERDICT: I am still shocked over how well this unit works. I hung mine up at the beginning of June and left it on all summer and into the fall (the light is still working, but I did replace the aroma pouch twice).

I got precisely one mosquito bite when hanging out in the vicinity of the Dynatrap over four months, and I didn’t have guests complaining of bites either. Nevertheless, I plan to buy another for my camping needs and some as gifts for my RVing friends.

8. Mosquito Larvae Killer

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Summit...responsible solutions 110-12 Mosquito Dunks, 6-Pack, Natural
15,681 Reviews
Summit…responsible solutions 110-12 Mosquito Dunks, 6-Pack, Natural
  • Kills mosquitoes before they’re old enough to bite
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Placing a product like Summit Mosquito Dunks into buckets of water you put on the outskirts of your campsite can lower the number of mosquitoes hatching and coming after you for their next meal.

Female mosquitoes actively look for standing water to lay eggs and will visit the buckets if no other source is available. The Dunks kill the larvae once the eggs hatch and lessen the overall swarm of insects around the campsite, but will not harm any other wildlife that drinks the water.

PROS: Kills larvae using a natural bacterium, so you aren’t harming humans, animals, or plants when in use. The tablets are inexpensive and last up to 30 days, so you don’t have to monitor the buckets constantly.

It’s easy to place the tablets in other standing water or puddles around your campsite to keep the mosquito population down.

CONS: You must bring along 2-4 buckets with the rest of your camping gear to create temporary “ponds” for females to lay eggs. It is less effective if you’re camping along the shores of a large body of standing or slow-moving water where mosquitoes have plenty of places to lay eggs.

FINAL VERDICT: I use Summit Mosquito Dunks when I’m camping for more than five days in a single location, as it takes around a week to go from egg to larvae to biting and see results from the product.

They work well with other methods to control the population of flying insects around the campsite, especially during the warmer months when rain is more common.

9. Thermacell Repellent E-Series Rechargeable Repeller

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21,784 Reviews
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The Thermacell Mosquito Repeller uses liquid cartridges full of natural Metofluthrin that mosquitoes detest creating a 20-foot pest-free zone after running for 15 minutes. The cartridge is warmed inside the repeller to release the scent (undetectable to humans) and drive mosquitoes away.

The unit is rechargeable and lasts up to 5.5 hours per cycle, making it very camping-friendly and repels all flying pests. Each cartridge lasts for 12 hours of use before needing replacement.

PROS: It doesn’t need butane inserts to heat the repellent like other Thermacell products, and it’s simple to recharge and reuse. Works both daytime and nighttime.

CONS: You’ll need to pack extra cartridges to last your trip and have a power source to recharge the unit. The coverage needs to be larger to protect an entire campsite, and using it on windy days cuts its effectiveness dramatically.

FINAL VERDICT: I have and use various Thermacell products, but this unit seems more effective than the older models I own. This unit is ideal for direct placement near groups of people or outside a tent or RV door to keep mosquitoes from flying inside.

10. Use Solar Bug Zapper Torches

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  • Solar Powered Bug Zapper: The mosquito zapper torch is weatherproof…
  • Flickering Flame Effect & Blue UV LED: Achieve the same effect of an…
  • Multipurpose Fly zapper: Use the solar powered insect killer torch…

For extra mosquito protection and cool ambient lighting, you can use a solar bug zapper torch, like the PIC Solar Insect Killer Torch.

A flickering UV LED light attracts flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other insects, and when they touch the metal housing, a 600-volt zap of electricity kills them instantly. There’s a removable catch tray to clean out the bugs.

I tested four torches around the perimeter of my RV campsite and found they did a decent job cutting down the mosquito population during the evening hours. The solar torches charge during the day with sunlight exposure, come on automatically at dusk, and last about 6 hours, which is plenty for most evening activities.

PROS: No cords are needed, and the units are weatherproof, so you can put them out at the start of your camping trip and leave them until the end. The kit has different mounts and poles, so you can place them where you like.

CONS: The torches are a bit pricey, and it’s hard to tell if they’re working until you inspect the units during the day.

The light attracts mosquitoes from a 1/2-acre area, but other lighting around your camp will draw some insects away. In addition, the torch only works at dusk into the night and is ineffective during daylight hours.

FINAL VERDICT: I like these more for the look than the mosquito protection, but they do seem to pull mosquitoes to the perimeter of your campsite if there aren’t other lights near your hang-out spot. I love using the sun’s power to run the torch, which is very convenient.

Use the OFF!Cast

Never heard of OFF!Cast? Neither did I until recently.

This collaboration between SC Johnson’s Institute of Insect Science for Family Health, Climate Engine, and Google Cloud will give you the “mosquito forecast” for your area based on analytics and mosquito tracking statistics.

You only need to visit the OFF!Cast website and type in the US zip code where you plan to camp. A second later, you’ll get a seven-day forecast from low to severe of how bad the mosquitoes will be in that area so that you can create your control plan accordingly!

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Keep Mosquitos, Ticks, and Bugs Away When Camping and Backpacking (Video)

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