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Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away From Camp

It can happen in an instant. One moment, you’re enjoying a romantic dinner for two beneath the stars and the next, you’re battling hundreds of unwanted guests.

The arrival of merciless and bothersome bugs can quickly turn a fun camping trip or a relaxing time on your patio in New Jersey into an awful experience of bites and swatting. Whether it’s the whiff of perfume or the presence of food, bugs always seem to find a direct way to your campsite.

The annoying part is that insects usually manage to find a way to really disrupt any sort of event, even if it’s just a small party in your backyard.

Fortunately, companies have seized on the opportunity to develop and market insect repellents that keep bugs away. But, if you’re not the kind of person who likes chemicals on their body and don’t want to introduce unnatural elements into nature or your yard, several natural solutions to repelling bugs exist.

Here are some of the best natural ways to keep bugs at bay.

Make a campfire

Building a big fire is a camping tradition, and it’s actually good for more than roasting marshmallows. The smoke from campfires is a great bug deterrent. Adding certain items to the campfire like greener leaves and damp twigs is helpful because they create more smoke.

The Intuition Physician also recommends adding a stick of sage to the fire because it will give a scent to the smoke that will discourage bugs even more. Remember to follow the rules and recommendations concerning fires at your campground.

Another alternative, especially for backyard is a nice fire on an outdoor grill. It’s also a great way to roast marshmallows.

Rub onions on your body or eat garlic

People aren’t the only ones that can’t stand the smell of onions. Bugs also dislike the scent of the plant bulbs, which is why they make such great bug repellents. Simply slice up the onion and rub the bits all over your body. Before doing it, you should make sure that the people around the campsite are comfortable with you reeking of onions. This might not be the best method if you’re on a camping trip with a new boyfriend or girlfriend.

Garlic is another one of those smelly items that deter insects. When you eat a good portion of garlic, it will come out through your pores, and bugs, like mosquitoes, can’t stand the smell of it. Again, this is an effective but smelly way to stop mosquitoes from biting.

Don’t use scented soaps or perfume

On the flip side of smelling like garlic and onions, if you put on perfume or use strongly scented soaps, you could be a walking invitation for flies and mosquitoes. Instead, before going on a camping trip, opt for those discreet shampoos and leave the scented sprays at home.

Make your own natural bug repellent

A quick search around the Internet will reveal hundreds of recipes for natural bug repellents. For a sample natural bug repellent recipe, take a look at this recipe from Wellness Mama. Some of these are more effective than others, but there are a variety of natural DIY repellents out there that will keep you bug free.

Keep clean

By far, one of the best “natural” ways of keeping ants and flies away is to be clean. Keeping your campsite the way nature intended—without open bags of Cheetos and plates full of food scraps—will give no reasons for the bugs to come around. Keep trash in tightly sealed trash bags and clean plates immediately after eating.


  1. We put garlic in everything we cook while camping. It really does help keep mosquitoes away. Case in point, at Boy Scout Summer Camp last month, a leader who just came in, in the middle of the week, (and was drinking sugary soda) was having all sorts of problem with mosquitoes. Those of us who had been there all week, (and eating garlic for several days before we left home) weren’t having a bit of trouble. The other thing they didn’t mention, and I just eluded to, don’t drink sugary drinks. Just like the garlic, the sugar will come out of your pores, too, and attract all sorts of bugs.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Ken. Glad to hear garlic was very effective for you. Also, great point about the sugary drinks.

  2. take a mason jar 1/3 full of mountain dew place lid with holes big enough for bee’s to crawl into and hang or place it about 5 to 8 ft. from campsite . Bugs will be attracted to mason jar and not campsite !!

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