This is a guest post by freelance writer Leslie Douglas. If you would like to guest post on CampingBlogger, please see the About page for my contact information.
After being cooped up during a long, cold winter, everyone looks forward to the weather warming up to enjoy the outdoors again. But along with warmer weather come a variety of pests that can make a camping trip a painful, itchy experience – mosquitoes. Rather than try to deal with an itchy, irritable kid, I try to fend off the mosquitoes before they bite. Here are some of the products I’ve tried with great success.
OFF!® FamilyCare Repellent
In existence for more than 50 years, OFF! is one of the best known brands of insect repellents on the market. The insect repelling substance in OFF! is a chemical called DEET. There has been some concern recently about the safety of using DEET on skin, but several health organizations including the American College of Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have deemed it to be safe for human use.
In addition, the brand has received the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. OFF! comes in several varieties, and is available in most drugstores and grocery stores. It is available in aerosol and non-aerosol varieties, and is great for stuffing in a backpack.
SKIN SO SOFT® Bug Guard Plus™
Another company with a long standing reputation for quality is Avon®. Their Skin So Soft (SSS) Bug Guard Plus is a favorite among outdoor lovers, and particularly moms. It’s DEET-free, and is recommended by dermatologists and pediatricians as being safe for children, which is something I look for in products for my kids.
SSS has the added benefit of sun protection factor (SPF) 30, so it protects against sunburn as well as insects. It’s available in a pleasantly scented, non-greasy lotion, an aerosol, and a non-aerosol pump spray, and repels mosquitoes for at least eight hours. SSS Bug Guard Plus can be purchased online or through your local Avon representative.
Burt’s Bees® Herbal Insect Repellent
If you’d prefer to avoid chemicals, opt for a natural one like Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent. The spray is made from a mixture of herbal oils such as rosemary, citronella, and lemongrass, along with a few others. It’s also DEET-free and is safe for children.
The company even touts it as a good way to keep mosquitoes away from pets. Mosquitoes can transmit heartworm via bites, so it’s a good idea to protect pets when they’re outside. Burt’s Bees repellent smells nice, but the downside is that it’s oily and some kids might not like the feel of it.
If you’re concerned about applying any sorts of insect repellents to your children’s skin, you can try to repel insects from the outdoor environment instead. One of the most popular ways to do this is by lighting citronella candles.
Citronella is an oil that can be derived from about 25 species of plants. Because it’s a natural ingredient, it’s also used in some topical repellents as well. Citronella candles emit a light, citrusy scent when burning that is unpleasant to many insects, especially mosquitoes.
The candles can be found in just about any hardware or home improvement store, and very often in drugstores and grocery stores as well. Torches that burn citronella oil are also available, and are popular alternatives to candles since they’re refillable. Torches and candles are perfect for setting around the patio or backyard, or if you go to the cottage.
Candles and torches are nice and can add ambience to your outdoor living area, but they may not be the best option is you have small children or pets around. Not to mention, they don’t do much good when it’s a little windy outside, and the flames are blown out.
A good alternative is an all-weather mosquito trap, like the Mosquito Magnet. It’s a device that emits carbon dioxide, which is known to be a mosquito attractant. When the mosquitoes, or other flying insects, approach the source of the gas, they are trapped in the Mosquito Magnet’s tank.
The device pulls insects away from the activity area, keeping your barbecues, picnics, and outdoor play areas virtually insect free. This is, of course, not the type of contraption you want to take backcountry camping, but if you have a trailer or a cottage it might be a good investment.
The best way to get total mosquito control is to combine two or more of these methods. Wearing a personal repellent while running a trap will ensure you and your family can enjoy the outdoors without worrying about being plagued by mosquitoes.
I liked all the suggestions, I really am gonna have to check out Thermo Cell.
Please take a look at Mosquito Patch too, It is completely natural and works for 24hrs.
Be Blessed, Shannon
Wow- had no idea Burt’s Bees made an insect repellent! We lived in AZ for 5 years and I got spoiled with no flying bugs (but missed the fireflies). Now we get attacked if we leave the house for 30 seconds or more!
Thanks for the ideas!
Let me assure you, Melissa, when it comes to mosquitoes the jungle has nothing on the Carolina beaches 🙂
Every year my family sets up camp at Glacier National Park for the summer. It’s open season on my skin and we’re packing for the trip now, so really timely post. We buy a lot of Burts Bees products, but I didn’t know they had a repellent. The ThermoCell sounds really interesting, that might be the perfect solution for the summer. Also, I’m not sure a Mosquito Magnet would work well for short-term campers unless the campsite itself invested in them. I really like the concept though and might get one for our home away from home. Cool technology: http://home.howstuffworks.com/mosquito-magnet.htm
The Thermacell is a handheld unit that burns propane cartridges with little blue pads with that allow you to run the unit and create a 15 foot barrier where Mosquitoes just dont want to be. I have used the unit in Manitoba in swamps where there is nothing but bugs and this thing worked exceptionally. In areas with a good breeze just set it upwind and it works well.
What is ThermoCell?Can anybody tell me?If it works great, I want to give it a try as I hate mosquitoes during my camping trip. I’m having a very sensitve skin and has always experienced mosquito bite allergy. It was a very painful experience.
Just want to warn you that a lot of doctors are now recommending against sunscreen/repellent combinations. If you’re putting on enough to protect you from the sun, you’re putting on a lot more bug repellent than you would normally use; if you put on the normal repellent amount, you’re not covering yourself suitably with sunscreen. Also, sunscreen is meant to be reapplied every few hours, whereas that’s a lot of repellents. http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/summertips.cfm
I agree with the comment about the ThermoCell’s. We used one on our last trip, on an island in Michigan, and it worked it great. We just posted a review of it a few days ago, if folks are interested.
In general, I also prefer the wipes or lotions to the spray types of repellent. I find them easier to apply to myself and the kids, you know you’ve gotten everything covered and haven’t missed a spot.
Marc – great review on the ThermoCell, I’m looking forward to trying one, myself. Regarding the wipes, I agree that they are great for bare skin, but the sprays are still best for clothing.
Yep, always looks a bit silly taking a wipe or lotion to your shirt!
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Use 3M Ultrathon. It is a cream with encapsulated DEET, so it lasts longer.
Thanks Walter, I have not heard of this product.
Deepwoods OFF has some really great Deep Woods Wipes that are great for the kids because you can pull out the wipe, rub it on exposed areas and around the neck and ears and the kids do not get the smell or taste of the spray. They do contain Deet, but what I have found is that while the non-Deet varieties do keep some mosquitoes away, they do not do much for No-See-Ums and Ticks. With the prevalence of Lyme Disease in the East, I do not want to take chances so a little deet on my kids is much better then antibiotics later on down the road.
As well, I cannot recommend enough ThermoCell’s for camping or hunting. They are lightweight, overall cheap and they work MAGIC!!!
Kevin – you are the second person I’ve heard from, recommending the ThermoCell. I’m going to have to try one!