How to Get Rid of Flies While Camping

bug spray

In this article, I have listed eight methods that are very effective at repelling most insects, including flies and mosquitos which are two of the worst and most popular ones that you can encounter while camping.

The first thing that you can do to stop any bugs from disturbing you on your trip is to make sure that you have a bug free tent. A good bug free tent has lots of mesh at every entrance and window, small enough so that even a tiny mosquito can’t make its way inside, and provides enough ventilation.

Other than that, take a look at the following methods and see which ones work best for you. Here you can find several natural ways to prevent insects, so I am confident that there is at least one for everyone.

How to Get Rid of Flies While Camping

#1 Bug Spray/Cream

The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when asked ‘how to keep bugs away’ or ‘how to repell mosquitoes while camping’ is traditional bug sprays and creams.

The main ingredient in insect repellent is N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, also known more simply as DEET, and it’s a yellow oil that is intended to be applied to clothing or skin providing protection against mosquitos, ticks, leeches, chiggers, and other insects that bite. The more DEET in the ingredients, the more repellent the spray or cream is.

One of the best bug sprays for camping is by OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent.

Some campers prefer not to use DEET-based creams or sprays, usually because of the smell or the potential risk of skin or eye irritation. This is why I recommend avoiding direct skin contact as much as possible and to just spray it on your clothes. Try to avoid breathing any in as well.

Alternatively, you could make your own homemade fly spray. All you need is 1 tablespoon of dish soap, 4 cups of raw apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of liquid oil (olive oil, mineral oil, canola oil), and 20 drops of rosemary, peppermint, and basil essential oil.

Simply mix all of this together into a spray bottle.

#2 Essential Oil

Another great method to keep mosquitos away when camping is to use essential oil. Concentrated herb or plant extracts have become extremely popular and thus very easy to come by. There are plenty of essential oils that have bug-repelling properties and offer a natural alternative to the heavy chemicals in sprays.

Essential oils can be applied directly to the skin but like with bug sprays, it’s better to spray it on your clothes.

For your essential oil bug spray, you can use 10-20 drops of any of the following: Thyme, Eucalyptus, Sage, Cedarwood, Catnip, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Lavender, Mint, Basil, Clove, Citronella, etc.

Simply mix any of those into a spray bottle along with a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol, half a cup of water, and half a cup of natural witch hazel. Always shake the bottle well before spraying since oil and water have a tendency to separate.

This is a great way to repel mosquitos while camping since it smells pleasant as well.

#3 Vinegar

For those who can’t stand the smell of vinegar, this isn’t really an option for you, but if you don’t mind it then you can use white vinegar or cider vinegar as a natural insect repellent. All you need to do is spray it on yourself and around your campsite to deter any bugs from coming nearby since they dislike the strong smell.

Another way you could use vinegar is to seal a couple of tablespoons of dried sage, mint, rosemary, thyme, and lavender into a glass container along with 32 ounces of vinegar and let it sit for around three weeks. Make sure to shake it well every day and then dry the herbs once enough time has passed. I only recommend using this if you are desperate to keep bugs away because this smells really strong and it doesn’t smell great. If you want to use it on your skin you need to dilute it with water beforehand.

#4 Diffusers & Coils

Most diffusers include a battery-operated fan to spread chemicals around a small area, emitting a pesticide known as metofluthrin. They usually work for around 12 hours, providing 84-100% protection against mosquitos.

Pyrethrum-infused coils are similar to diffusers in that they also emit a powerful scent that repels mosquitos but they also let out smoke.

Whichever one you prefer and end up using, both are great ways to keep mosquitos away from your campsite.

#5 Bug Repellent Bracelets

For those campers who are sensitive to smells and/or applying anything to their skin, the bug repellent bracelets are the best option for you.

You don’t even need to wear it on your wrist if you don’t want to; you can just fasten it to anything close by.

Most of these insect repelling bracelets use 100% natural plant oils but there are more modern ones available that come with tiny refill packs or sprays containing the active repellent.

This is especially good for children since DEET sprays should not be used for them.

#6 Certain Food

Mosquitos and other bugs hate the smell of particular food such as onions, garlic, and citrus fruits. You would have to eat quite a lot of them before it would start working though. What you could do is eat an orange and then rub the peel on your skin. It also doesn’t hurt to add a couple of onions and garlic when cooking at your campsite, letting the air fill with this natural insect repellent.

One combination, in particular, seems to work really well on flies. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle some cloves on top. I recommend keeping it in your tent, as it seems to work best when in an enclosed space. Give it half an hour and any flies in your tent will leave.

#7 Hydration

It is always important to stay hydrated when camping especially in hot conditions in order to combat dehydration and heat stroke.

Well, insects are more attracted to hot and sweaty skin, so this is yet another reason to keep yourself hydrated.

#8 Fire

A campfire is not just good for making smores and keeping warm, but it can also keep insects away. 

The smoke that comes from fire repels flies, mosquitos, and plenty of other bugs too. Whether it be from a campfire, candles, or a tiki torch, it’ll get the job done.

Scented candles are great too, especially citronella scented ones. A safe way to keep candles around your campsite is to have them in glass jars and scattered around your tent. They’re also a great source of light for when it starts to get dark.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get rid of flies in my tent?

There are several methods you could try which keep insects, including flies, out and away from your tent. You could apply citronella or lavender oil to your skin or clothes, or use a diffuser or coil if you would rather not put anything on yourself.

You could even try rubbing some of the oil on your tent flaps.

What smells will keep flies away?

Essential oils with any of the following smells will keep insects at bay: thyme, clove, eucalyptus, citronella, basil, mint, cedarwood, lavender, sage, cajeput, geranium, lemongrass, tea tree, and rosemary.

Insects also dislike the smells of certain food such as onions, garlic, and citrus fruit.

What is the best home remedy to keep flies away?

Simply using vinegar or citrus fruit is the easiest way, or making an essential oil.

How do you make homemade fly spray?

To make homemade fly spray you will need: 1 tablespoon of dish soap, 4 cups of raw apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons liquid oil (olive oil, mineral oil, canola oil), and 20 drops of rosemary, peppermint, and basil essential oil.

Simply mix all of this together into a spray bottle.

What home remedy gets rid of midges?

You need a half inch of apple cider vinegar and two drops of liquid dish detergent. All you need to do is add this into a container and leave it somewhere around your campsite. Don’t place it too close to your tent, because this remedy attracts the midges which then kills them as they try to land in it.

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