21 Ways to Keep Mosquitoes Away While Camping

It’s no secret that mosquitoes can flat out ruin a camping trip, especially if you go unprepared. And while totally avoiding them is virtually impossible, you can limit your exposure to them. Now, bug spray is an obvious way to keep mosquitoes at bay, but we went a step further and listed 21 ways to keep mosquitoes away while camping.

Anyone who has been outside knows how annoying mosquitoes can get. There’s no one out there who enjoys being bitten by them. Not only do they cause itchiness, they can be carriers of disease. It’s time to finally keep those pests away and enjoy yourself while camping! Try out these tips to find the best way to keep mosquitoes away while camping, there’s bound to be one that works great for you.

how to keep mosquitoes away when camping

If you are looking for natural bug sprays only (not DEET), make sure and check out our post on natural bug sprays here.

1. Use Mosquito Sprays With Deet

This is one of the easiest ways to combat pesky mosquitoes! The most common types of mosquito repellents use DEET. One of the most popular brands is “OFF.” As long as you cover yourself from head to toe with it, you should eliminate most insect bites (not just mosquitoes).

By the way, as an Amazon Associate, I earn when buying qualified products through links on my site.

I personally like OFF’s Deep Woods Sportsmen insect repellent. It contains over 90% DEET and lasts for up to 10 hours. Just so you know, the amount DEET that a spray contains, doesn’t reflect how strong it is, but rather how long it lasts.

2. Make a DIY Mosquito Spray

natural mosquito spray

Image via Wellnessmama.com

For some people, using a chemical such as DEET just isn’t an option, especially when there are kids and babies involved. For these campers, an all-natural DIY mosquito spray might be just what you need. Most homemade recipes use a mixture of essential oils, while others go so far as to use vinegar. One thing is for sure…you’re either going to smell really good or really bad!

3. Use Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

The cool thing about mosquito bracelets is that you get an effective mosquito repellent without having to spray chemicals and oils all over yourself. They are also usually DEET free! Most of them use a natural form of insect repellents such as lemon eucalyptus oil, geraniol oil, and citronella oil. With that being said, while effective to a certain point, I would not recommend that they be your only line of defense.  

4. Burn Some Sage in Your Campfire

While it’s well known that a number of herbs can be used for insect repellents, there’s one in particular that works without having to apply it to your skin. Sage is used by burning it in your campfire or bbq grill. Insects, especially mosquitoes will usually keep away when there is smoke, but add a little sage to the fire and you have yourself an effective insect repellent. 

5. Love the Mint

Did you know that mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and other natural-occurring chemicals that are released through our breathing? That’s why a lot of people who spend time outdoors recommend using mint as an insect repellent. You can either chew a little fresh mint leaf or buy some type of peppermint candy or chewing gum.

6. Burn Some Candles and Incense

candles for mosquitoes

One of the most popular ways to try and guard against mosquitos is to burn some candles or incense. You can find a number of different brands made specifically for warding off mosquitoes. Candles will burn for longer but, I’ve heard good things about incense sticks. One, in particular, is the Murphy’s Mosquito Sticks. They come in both DEET and DEET-Free varieties.

If you decide to go with candles, make sure that it’s made with real citronella oil. In case you’re wondering, the Cutter Citro Guard Candle works pretty well! I haven’t used them for camping, but I do use them when we’re hanging out in the backyard.

7. Vinegar Works for Everything

This one really didn’t surprise me, since vinegar is used for pretty much everything, so why not as a mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes hate the smell and taste of vinegar, which makes this all natural source a great ingredient for a natural mosquito repellent. Oh, and in case you do get bitten (which is inevitable), it can double as a treatment for mosquito bites.  

8. Rub Some Fruit on You

Before you go on your next camping trip, make sure to pack some oranges! Not only will you enjoy a healthy snack, but you may be able to keep the mosquitoes from making you their snack. Mosquitoes can’t stand the smell of the organic chemicals that citrus peels contain. The most effective way to use them is to rub the peels on your skin.

9. Use a Portable Mosquito Repeller

portable mosquito repeller

A portable mosquito repellent can provide you with protection without having to rub or spray anything on yourself. You also don’t have to smell any odors! The one that I use and recommend is the Thermacell MR300. They use allethrin, which is a synthetic form of the natural repellent found in chrysanthemum flowers.

10. Essential Oils Are Essential

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, including mosquito and bug repellents. Most people either make a homemade lotion or spray to protect against mosquitoes. A few commonly used oils include citronella, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, and lavender. For more ideas and recipes, checkout this website.

11. Coffee Grounds

Before you throw your used coffee grounds away, you might want to read this. Mosquitoes and other bugs hate the smell of burning coffee grounds! So by drying out your used grounds and setting them on fire, you can have your very own homemade repellent.    

12. Make a Homemade Mosquito Trap

This method is different from all the rest in that it doesn’t just repel the mosquitoes, but is suppose to trap and kill them. The best part is that it’s super easy to make. All you need is an empty 2-liter soda bottle, a knife, some brown sugar, duck tape, and water. For complete instructions on how to make it, check out this Youtube video.

13. Add Lots of Garlic

Love garlic? Good, because mosquitoes hate it! Before your next camping trip, eat plenty of it and you might keep the mosquitoes away, not to mention everyone else that you went camping with. This doesn’t mean that you should snack on whole garlic cloves, but it might be a good idea to pack some garlic salt to season your burgers with.

14. Eliminate Odors

Did you know that mosquitoes are attracted to scents, good and bad? Before you plan your next camping trip, you might want to wash all your clothes in a non-scented detergent. I would also skip the fabric softener and dryer sheets or you can buy unscented deodorant, soap, and shampoo. Also avoid using perfumes, body sprays, and colognes. With that being said, keep yourself clean. Body odor, including sweat, will attract mosquitoes like nobody’s business! Also, keep your campsite free from garbage.

15. Invest in Mosquito Nets and Screens

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people neglect to buy a mosquito net or opt for a tent without mesh screens. While a mosquito net will not provide any relief unless you are in it, it will provide the best protection while you are sleeping, which in my opinion is when it’s the most important.

16. Camp When it’s Cool

While mosquitoes will feed any time of the year, they prefer warmer conditions much more than they do the winter months. Living in Florida, the winter is the only time that I will even think about going camping.

17. Cut Out The Lights

It is widely known that mosquitoes are attracted to light, so if you don’t want to end up on the dinner menu, ditch the lights just as soon as possible. You can leave the fire burning though! While the flame is technically a light source, it’s the smoke that actually helps to repel mosquitoes, especially if you have sage burning. 

18. Wear Mosquito Repellent Clothing

Insect repellent clothing can help reduce mosquito bites, however for it to work, it has to cover your skin. Most clothes that are made to repel mosquitoes are treated with a chemical called permethrin. Permethrin is actually an insecticide used in lice shampoos. It’s so effective that it can actually kill mosquitoes on contact. The only downside is that if you’re camping in hot conditions, covering up from head to toe with clothes can get hot really fast.

19. Avoid Standing Water

Whether you are boondock camping in an RV or tent camping with the family, knowing when and where to set up camp is extremely important. While the idea of camping next to a lake or stream is enticing, it can be a dinner bell for mosquitoes. My advice is to camp in an area that’s away from the water and in an area that has a good wind flow. Mosquitoes and other biting bugs, seem to bite less when there is a good breeze.  

20. Vanilla is Your Friend

Image via Pesthacks.com

According to Joey Green, the author of Magic Health Remedies: 1,363 Quick-and-Easy Cures, a  little vanilla extract can go a long way when it comes to repelling mosquitoes. The vanilla extract masks your scent, essentially making you invisible to mosquitoes. Check out his hack as well as a few more at pesthacks.com.

To get started, add two teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract into one cup of water and spritz yourself with the yummy concoction. To make this solution even more mosquito-proof, add some of the best mosquito repellent oils to the mix – we suggest lemon eucalyptus and lavender oil.

21. Burn Some Cow Poop

Last but not least, throw some poop in your campfire. In season 3, of Survivorman, Les Stroud mentions that throwing cow poop on a fire can drive away insects, including mosquitoes. Why does this work? I’m really not sure, and apparently, he wasn’t either. When asked, his response was “I have no idea why.” So, if you just so happen to be camping next to a pasture, make sure to grab yourself a little dried cow dung and set it on fire!


I have to admit that some of these tips are a little out there. For most campers, some candles, a good mosquito repellent, and some thought and planning when deciding what time of year and where to set up camp is all you’ll need. However, if you don’t like spraying chemicals all over you and your family, you may want to try one of these all-natural alternatives in order to keep from being on the menu.

Have you used any of these tips or have any tips of your own for keeping mosquitoes away while camping or just in general? If so, we would love to hear all about them! Just leave a comment below.    


Peter is a software developer who loves to take every opportunity to go outside that he can get. Peter grew up going on long backpacking excursions with his family every Summer and now enjoys staying at the beautiful Texas State Parks and swimming in the amazing Texas Rivers.

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