How to prevent bug bites in the wild

Outdoor activities can be fun and exciting, but it also means that you may have to deal with pesky bugs. On the other hand, during a survival scenario the last thing you want to do is look for ways to get rid of various insects that bite and sting. (h/t to

To prevent mosquito bites, remember that they are attracted to:

  • Carbon dioxide
  • Heat
  • Lactic acid – Lactic acid is the waste product produced during anaerobic respiration. Running fast can cause a lactic acid build up in the muscles, and this may cause cramps.
  • Metabolic rate – Mosquitoes are more attracted to high resting metabolic rates. Both alcoholic drinks and exercise can raise your metabolic rate.
  • Movement – Movement and sweating can also make you seem more attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Type O blood

How to prevent insect bites

Try the tips below so you can explore the wilderness without having to worry about itchy bug bites:

  1. Bat boxes/housesBuild a bat box or house to keep mosquitoes away from your property. Bats eat bugs and they can help keep the bug population down. (Related: How to make cheap, but very effective, DIY mosquito traps.)
  2. Check the time of day – Mosquitoes often feed as the sun is rising. Mosquitoes also feed just before the sun sets in the evening since humidity goes up and the breeze dies down, which is the perfect flying weather for them.
  3. Don’t stay in “mosquito havens” – This means avoiding areas with standing water when you’re outdoors since this is where female mosquitoes lay their eggs. At home, remove water from buckets, tires, unused kiddie pools, or empty containers. Don’t stay in areas with bushes, long grasses, or tall weeds.
  4. Don’t use scented hygiene products – Some bugs feed on flowers, and using floral-scented products like perfume and lotions can attract more insects that may bite.
  5. Eat garlic – Garlic has allicin, a compound that is released through the pores when consumed. The compound also interferes with your natural scent so you can “hide” from mosquitoes and ticks. If you don’t like garlic, you can eat other members of the Allium family like chives, leeks, onions, or shallots. Try to eat garlic raw for the best results.
  6. Grow mosquito-repellent plants – This is another natural way to avoid bug bites. Basil is toxic to mosquito larvae and you can burn rosemary since the smoke will help keep mosquitoes away. Lavender works against flies, mosquitoes, and moths while peppermint works against bug larvae and adult mosquitoes. Marigolds can also keep aphids and mosquitoes away.
  7. Light citronella candles – Even though citronella candles only work for short periods of time, the smoke they produce will keep mosquitoes away.
  8. Make your own bug spray – Combine citronella, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil, and vanillin for a natural bug spray that doesn’t have diethyltoluamide (DEET), which may have harmful side effects.
  9. Set up camp in a breezy area – If it’s not windy enough, set up a solar powered fan to deter mosquitoes. These pests can’t fly in a breeze over one mile per hour.
  10. Skip the bananas – Only female mosquitoes bite and they love sugar. If you’re about to head outdoors, don’t eat bananas because the body processes the sugar in the fruit and makes you more prone to bites.
  11. Take vitamin B – This vitamin can change your scent and keep mosquitoes away. Take at least 75 to 150 mg of vitamin B1/thiamine.
  12. Use an insect net or head for shelter – Keep an insect net in your survival gear so you can sleep soundly. Finish your workout indoors, then shower before going out to avoid getting bitten.
  13. Use catnip oil – As a bug spray, catnip oil is 10 times more effective than insect repellent with DEET.
  14. Use soybean oil repellent – This is better than products with seven percent DEET. Even if soybean oil repellents aren’t as effective as sprays with 15 percent DEET, they’re a safer alternative.
  15. Use vanilla extract (clear) and olive oil – When combined into a spray, these natural ingredients can repel mosquitoes.
  16. Wear protective clothing – Protective clothing can keep mosquitoes off of you. Light-colored clothing can help you blend in, and if you’re outdoors you can cover yourself by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks. Your clothes need to be tight and made of smooth, tightly woven breathable fabrics to repel mosquitoes.

Treating bug bites

The natural alternatives to store-bought bug sprays listed above can help keep mosquitoes away, but if you do get bitten here are some natural remedies that can soothe itchy bites:

  • Baking soda and witch hazel paste – These two ingredients can help treat bug bites.
  • Hot compress or ice – Ease painful, swollen insect bites and stings with a hot compress or some ice.
  • Use herbs and plants – Herbs and plants like aloe vera, basil, calendula, cinnamon, lavender, and tea tree oil are effective remedies for itchiness caused by bug bites.

With these natural bug spray alternatives and remedies, you can enjoy the great outdoors without worrying about itchy insect bites.

Read more articles with tips on how to keep bugs away using natural bug sprays and insect repellent at

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