Bug bite prevention in the wilderness

Stef Zisovska

Whether you live in an area which is subject to insect invasions or your next travel plans involve a rainforest excursion, you would do well to learn how to protect yourself from bug bites. Areas of high humidity are a paradise for insects and bugs of all kinds, and although most will not attack you simply because they’re mean, if you’re in their way they very well might. Not only that, but many of these small creatures are venomous, and their bites can even cause death.  This doesn’t mean you should be scared or lock yourself away in quarantine, but that you should learn how to prevent bug bites in the first place. Here are some useful tips on how to do it and stay safe anytime you venture into the wilderness.

Dress properly

Dress properly
Dress properly

The first rule when it comes to bug bite protection in the wilderness is to dress properly. Wearing the right clothes when you’re hiking through a jungle area is the key to a safe and successful adventure.

  • Always tuck your pants into your boots to stop the bugs from entering beneath your clothing. If you don’t wear boots, then pull your socks over the top of your pants. It looks funny, but you shouldn’t worry too much about being stylish in the wild.
  • Tuck your shirt into your pants to stop the bugs getting into your clothes that way. You might feel a bit hot but you will stay safe.
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt!
  • Treat your clothes with permethrin to repel bugs. Also, permethrin is more effective and better for you than Deet. Just watch as the ticks that pay you a visit start walking in circles and falling off after a few minutes.
  • Don’t use any perfume or perfumed body lotions that smell differently than the environment. Avoid bright colors as well. The two things attract bugs’ attention, so you’d better avoid them.

Natural repellents


There are plenty of distinct products on the market that can help protect us from bug bites, but of course, they come with pros and cons. What many people like about such natural products is that they are better for the environment, and better for our health as well, though not as effective as chemical based products. However, plants combined with the right clothing can work good enough for most people. Use yarrow, American beautyberry, basil, lavender, or garlic mixed with an oil and sprayed on your skin or your clothes. If you don’t have oil, just rub these plants on your skin, though you will need to re-apply every 2 hours or so because they don’t last long. If caught in a survival situation, you can apply mud on your exposed skin, but it will not protect you for very long.

Smudge fire


There is another way to keep the bugs away from your campsite, your tent, and your clothes. Making a smudge fire will ward off the little beasties. Build your campfire with any kind of moist wood that puts out a lot of smoke. Termite damaged wood as well as pine and cedar have a toxic smoke. Add these to the top of your fire and see how bugs flee from the smoke. For night time, this is the best way to prevent bug bites without having to spray yourself with chemicals.

Lastly, remember that the proper clothing is what will help you the most when it comes to bug bite prevention. Don’t ignore the advice from the people who have more experience than you but learn from them. Follow these simple tips and start planning your next wilderness adventure. Good luck.

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival