3 Common Camping Insects and How to Protect Yourself - Panergy
As the weather begins to warm up, there's a good chance that you're thinking about heading out for your first summer camping trip of the year. Unfortunately for you, though, that warm weather that's got you jonesing for a taste of the outdoors has a similar effect on all those pesky insects that bite sting, and generally just annoy you while camping. Luckily, we've taken the time to compile a list of the insects most commonly encountered while camping, and what you can do to keep them from ruining your next camping trip.
One of the most common insect pests throughout the United States, mosquitoes aren't just a campsite nuisance; these bloodsucking pests can carry a variety of dangerous and even fatal diseases like yellow fever, malaria, and West Nile Virus. While most mosquito bites don't cause disease, they do cause itchy, inflamed, and sometimes even painful bumps at this site of the bite. There are, however, a variety of ways that you can help to prevent becoming lunch for one of these annoying arthropods.
1. Insect repellent - The easiest and most effective way to deter mosquitoes from giving you itchy bites while camping is to spray yourself down with a bug spray containing N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide, more commonly known as DEET.
For those who are sensitive to DEET or simply prefer to use natural bug repellents, both eucalyptus and citronella oils provide an effective deterrent to these annoying and potentially dangerous insects.
2. Light and loose clothing - Because mosquitoes tend to be more attracted to dark-colored targets, wearing light-colored clothing can go a long way toward keeping them at by. Additionally, wearing clothing with a significant amount of space between itself and your body can make it more difficult for insects to find your skin.
3. Bring anti-itch medication, and don't scratch - Make sure that your first-aid kit is fully stocked, including anti-itch medication to treat any bites or stings that do occur.
Even with an anti-itch medication, it's almost inevitable that mosquito bites will itch a little, but it's important that you resist the urge to scratch it. Scratching can easily break the surface of your skin, drawing blood, which will then attract even more mosquitoes. If you simply cannot resist the urge to touch your bite, try slapping the area lightly or gently rubbing the skin surrounding the bite.
4. Don't leave standing water - Any source of standing water--from a dirty dish to a rainwater collector or a naturally-occurring puddle--can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. So dry all dishes thoroughly and immediately, and fill any nearby puddles with dirt when you arrive at your campsite.
5. Wear clean socks - Believe it or not, fragrant feet can actually be a significant attractor of mosquitoes. Bring enough socks with you that you can keep your feet dry for the entirety of your trip, and sprinkle baby powder inside your socks after you put them on for best results.
Another one of the most common campsite pests throughout the United States is the chigger. Technically, chiggers are mites--not insects--but due to their prevalence throughout the US and the severity of the discomfort they cause, we've chosen to include them in our list. Here's how you can keep yourself chigger-free this summer:
1. Insect repellent - Like with mosquitos, one of the easiest and most effective ways to deter chiggers is to use an insect repellent with DEET on both your skin and clothing.
Aside from DEET, a synthetic chemical known as permethrin is very effective in keeping chiggers at bay thanks to its neurotoxic effect on the tiny pests. A variety of permethrin products are available, including powders, liquids, sprays, and even permethrin treated clothing.
2. Long pants and appropriate shoes - Wearing long pants tucked into your socks, along with high-topped shoes or boots can be helpful when walking through chigger-infested areas. Tucking your shirt into your waistband can also be helpful, especially when walking through taller grass and other foliage.
3. Tightly-woven fabrics - Because of the miniscule size of chiggers, they can actually find their way through your clothes to the skin beneath. If you know you'll be walking through chigger-heavy areas, wear the most tightly-woven fabrics you've got, as this can make it more difficult for chiggers to get through.
4. Stick to the trail - Chiggers tend to live in taller vegetation, lurking in wait for potential hosts to pass by. By staying on established trails, you can both minimize your chances of getting bitten and help to keep the beautiful landscape free from signs of human impact.
Along with mosquitoes and chiggers, one of the United States? most common campsite pests is the tick. These disgusting parasites latch onto warm parts of your body like the underarms, scalp, and genital area, and can carry potentially dangerous blood borne diseases like Lyme Disease. Here's how to keep yourself tick-free:
1. Insect repellent - Like chiggers and mosquitoes, ticks are can be easily and effectively deterred by insect sprays containing DEET.
2. Light clothing - Wearing light-colored clothing can help you to spot ticks before they have an opportunity to reach exposed skin.
3. Stick to the trail - As with chiggers, simply sticking to the trail can go along way toward keeping you out of the places chiggers call home, like tall grass and dense brush.
4. Don't sit on the ground - Whenever possible, sit on picnic benches and camping chairs instead of bare ground or logs. Ticks can't fly, and so can only find their way onto you by direct contact with surfaces they occupy.
While it's nearly impossible to totally eliminate your chance of getting a bug bite while camping, following the tips listed above can significantly reduce your chances. Heed our advice on your next camping trip to keep you, your friends, and your family safe, healthy, and comfortable while you're camping this year.