Camping Checklist: Bug Prevention

You’ve packed your sleeping bag, sunscreen, Coleman stove and shorts. You’ve got your food fixings, first aid kit and PF sun protection; but what about protection from insect bites?
We often use the “shotgun to kill a mouse” approach when it comes to preventing bug bites during summer. Powerfully strong chemicals may work well on insects, but they can also cause harmful side effects to humans. (Prolonged exposure to DEET can impair cell function in the brain and lead to memory loss, headaches, muscle pain and weakness, fatigue and eventually immune system issues and tumors.)
Here is a list of 5 WAYS TO PROTECT against mosquitoes, bees and wasps that are simple, sensible and totally natural.
1. Concoct your own repellent. Before heading to the lake, head to your laboratory to combine essential oils like citronella, lemon grass oil, vanilla oil and peppermint oil, all known to send mosquitoes packing. Cinnamon, too, is more than just a tasty spice for oatmeal. Cinnamon oil can kill mosquito larvae and act as an effective repellent against adult mosquitoes. And catnip may be a favourite of your pet, but its oil may be as strong as DEET against mosquitoes.
2. Cover your scent. Wear light coloured, loose fitting, long sleeved shirts, pants, and socks from dusk onward. A hotter body temperature, perspiration and certain skin chemicals attract mosquitoes so try to stay cool and dry, and change right after a hike or other exercise.
3. Hide from them. There are over 200 different types of mosquitoes in Canada and the US so they obviously thrive here! The best way to avoid their pesky bites is to run from them. Avoid setting up your tent near their favourite hangouts: darker, cooler, heavily treed areas, and near standing water (mosquitoes require water to breed).
4. What you eat affects what eats you. Mosquitoes are attracted to some sweet scents on skin more than others. Bananas are one of their favourites. They dislike garlic, onion and chili peppers so add them to everything. Add marigold petals to your salad; they’re not only super healthful for eyes, the flowers give off a fragrance that bugs don’t like. Take a vitamin B1 supplement daily, too, since its reaction on skin wards off insects.
5. Look for a bat. Not the baseball type, but the small winged rodent. Manmade “bat houses” are becoming popular in backyards and even some camp grounds since they’re voracious insect eaters, and especially love mosquitoes.

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