Yeh, you heard me right, bug off, lolol.
I love the great outdoors. And I want to keep them great for me AND all of nature’s creatures. But, the pesky biting bugs that come along for the ride, tend to love ME, a little too much. This obviously makes glamping and camping very difficult without employing nuclear options.
I’ve tried just about every bug repellent solution known to man, probably spending thousands of dollars over the years. While my bank account would tell you otherwise, all this practice has made perfect. Now I want to share my favorite findings with you!
Depending on where you travel, hike or bike, there are multiple options, the results of which I can stand behind whole heartedly. Obviously, everyone is different and by no means can I recommend what is best for your skin and the air around you. BUT…this will give you a starting point to create redundancy for dealing with these jerks!
When I first started Airstreaming, and spending more and more time outdoors on my patio du jour, I realized that I needed a solution that went beyond just spraying myself down in stinky chemicals. Enter the Thermacell line of products.
I never minded (and still don’t) lathering up my skin with Burts Bees bug repellent, but there’s just times when you don’t want to feel like a walking, talking, citronella candle. I did my research and was intrigued enough by Thermacell to purchase my very own unit. In 2019, they’re making them in all kinds of far hipper colors. Mine is camoflauge design, lol, which is funny because I don’t hunt. But I digress.
The beauty of the personal unit is that it clips onto your pants (with the help of a holster) or in my case, fit into my back pocket, leaving enough air to not set me or my pants on fire, lol. It truly did create a 15-foot anti-bug bubble around me whether riding my mountain bike, walking, running, grilling or just chilling. I then decided to spread the love and upped the anty, purchasing one of their lanterns.
The only downside is that you have to make sure you have spare fuel cartridges and repellant refills. Keeping this bad boy armed is not hard at all, you just need to make sure you don’t run out of the necessary elements, especially when boondocking outside of civilization or at least an Amazon delivery locker, lol.
Thermacell has expanded their line to now include a slightly larger, but still very small unit that overs a bigger radius. They also have…tiki torches you can install around your patio or in your flower beds:) Yes, the units do displace a small amount of heat so you don’t want to lean them up against beach towels or fabric canopies. But as long as your children (and pets) recognize these are not toys. Then you’re good.
Bug Repellant Sprays & Oils
Now for sprays, oils and creams. I became a believer in Burts Bees Herbal Insect Repellent Oil (which typically I can only find online at Amazon when I need to restock) when I was on a friend’s boat on evening and all the mosquitos were congregating around the bow’s interior lights. My legs were right there, and not one landed on me. Of course this was before I met the real enemy of the state…Asian Tiger Mosquitos.
I never even had these demon spawn in my wooded back yard until the past two years, and it’s been about that long since I’ve had to employ drastic measures. I have found only two high potency spray repellents to work for me:
- Repel plant-based lemon & eucalyptus insect repellant
(It makes you smell, but it is a nice smell, but you still smell, lol. For some that may be bothersome the way perfume is.)
(It will not hurt gear such as fishing lines and other synthetic materials; you will also not smell it at all, almost making you worry at times that you have no bug repellant on.)
For When Chasing Gods Through the Woods
And if I find myself (for whatever God forsaken reason) frolicking into the deep woods (in this case I’m pretty sure it would only be if I were chasing Richard Madden or Tom Hiddleston, or Chris Evans or ALL of them, even better) I will break out the gear and clothing treated in Permethrin. All joking aside, I am a nature photographer who from time to time, finds myself knee deep in marshlands. And Mid-Atlantic marshes in the summer, well, let’s just say I know when I need to bring in the big guns.
Treated Clothing & Gear
I have purchased both pre-treated items, such as socks, bandanas and scarves. And I have treated my own socks and such. There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it, this stuff DOES work. You just have to decide whether you find yourself up against the possibility of contracting West Nile and Malaria in your travels. I don’t think this should be your everyday go-to. While it’s my personal opinion that minimum exposure to it (aka don’t spray your skin with it when you’re treating your gear OR saturate your clothing and put said clothing on you wet) shouldn’t hurt you. But I’m not a scientist or ecologist. However, the EPA’s website says this:
“At levels far higher than those used to control mosquitoes, permethrin can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. Very high doses may lead to loss of consciousness. Permethrin may make the skin and eyes redden, itch, or sting. However, the small amount used in spraying is not likely to be irritating.”https://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/3188/20049/Permethrin%20QA%203-20-13.pdf
I’ve never had any type of allergic reaction to the items I’ve been wearing that were treated with permethrin. And if it means that I don’t bruise and itch for weeks on end (and that my travels will very likely expose me to the worst of mosquitos) then I do it. But when I’m working on the inside of my trailers (ya know in the swamps of Southern New Jersey), my treated bandanas wrapped around my hair or my neck, serve to be a great supplement to the Burts Bees, Repel or Picaridin I have applied to my skin.