Pests are obnoxious interlopers that can be difficult to eradicate in any home; but what can you do to prevent them when you’re not in your home but in theirs? Camping, hiking or other outdoor explorations put you right in contact with many pests, from mosquitoes to ticks, bed bugs, ants and raccoons—even to large furry pests known to many campers as bears. So how do you protect yourself and your home (as some of these pests might tag along for an unwanted invitation) from pests while out in the wilderness?
How to Dress on the Trail
The first step you can take to prevent pests from setting up their own camp is to protect your body from them. This can be done in several ways; the first is to dress for protection. While it might not always be the most stylish, high socks, pants and long sleeves help prevent a lot of pests from hitching a ride on your limbs. This is especially crucial if you’re hiking or camping in areas with tall grass as that’s where many of these pests like to hang out and make an easy transition to your ankles. You can also use screens and netting to prevent mosquitoes from biting your face and neck. Depending on the region and weather, it might not always be an option to cover yourself from head to toe in clothes or netting; in those cases, sprays and other repellents are your only defense.
Are Insect Repellents Safe?
Insect repellents, in oils, lotions or sprays, can be great defenses against pests—clothing is still the best—however, some of these repellents, like DDT, have very hazardous effects on people and should be used in moderation. Because of the toxins inherent to these insect repellents, it might be a good idea to investigate in some natural bug repellents, many of which can be made from ingredients in your home. Ingesting apple cider vinegar, B vitamins and lots of garlic on a daily basis has been said to help repel mosquitoes as your body creates an odor they find unpleasant—but that offense might also include people in your camping party. You can find several recipes for herbal remedies online or try making your own out of some essential oils, vinegar, vegetable oil and aloe. Add anywhere from 10-12 drops of the scent for each ounce of aloe and two ounces of vegetable oil; rub onto your exposed skin, especially the back of the neck and the wrists. An alternative spray can be made out of scent and a quarter-cup apple cider vinegar. Some of the most effective scents include lavender, peppermint, rose and lemon—which reproduces the scent found in Citronella candles. Smoke is also a very effective bug repellant, making roaring campfires not only fun but functional.
Avoiding Pests While on the Trail
Of course, one of the best ways to defend yourself from these trail pests is to know where they tend to live and how best to avoid them. Ticks and bed bugs love tall grasses and dense forests—they love to hide in dark, hairy places on your body too, like inside the folds of your ears, armpits and other places with dense hair. Mosquitoes, and most other pests, love stagnant or standing water and can lay their nests shortly after rainfall. That said: avoid pitching your tent in these two areas if and when possible. You can also try to use the breeze to your advantage as it makes it harder for flying insects to land on your skin and food.
Keeping your campsite clean and your food protected is another useful way to prevent unwanted pests, especially of the larger variety. Rodents, raccoons and bears—as well as ants and flies—are highly sensitive and attracted to human food and will love nothing more than to tear into your food stores. By keeping food zipped up and sealed you can prevent their aromas from alerting local critters; if you’re in an area where bears are present you should also consider tying up your food away from camp high up in a tree. Keeping the food away from your campsite means that if bears do happen to stumble upon your pack, they won’t be feeding where you’re sleeping.
Remember, you’re in their territory. The best way to protect yourself from pests is simply by enforcing a barrier between your world and theirs: either with clothes, scents, chemicals or by physical location. With that in the back of your head, the rest of the time can be spent enjoying the outdoors.
About the author: Karen Miller writes and blogs for Terminix Pest Control Offers. Karen enjoys spending time with her family and going for day hikes when she can find free time away from work and writing.