Tips for Effective Insect Control in the Field
Insects are probably the biggest annoyance that hikers and campers will face while out in the wilderness. While there is no shortage of products and tricks that can be used to try and keep them at bay, and most have some degree of effectiveness, they can't replace preventive measures. Let's take a simple thing that all of us can do to reduce the occurrence of insect bites without the need for repellents.
Cover Exposed Skin
The first line of defense against insect bites involves dressing for the occasion. Instead of trying to figure out what repellents are the most effective, consider wearing clothing that covers up as much exposed skin as possible. This will automatically place a barrier of protection between you and the majority of insects that you will encounter. The trick is to find suitable fabric that will help to regulate temperatures while also being sturdy enough to ward off any attacks. While this may involve a little bit of planning, choosing the right clothing is free, non-toxic and doesn't leave a sticky residue on the skin.
Protect Tent or Hammock
It's also important to make sure that air vents or gaps in your tent or hammock material are covered. This is the only sure-fire way to keep insects out of your sleeping area. Repellents may help to create a barrier, but wind can carry their aroma in the wrong direction, and products may not keep all biting or stinging insects at bay. Inspect your items before heading out, and consider packing up a field repair kit that can be used as necessary once you set up camp. You may also want to consider buying some netting or other covering to provide some additional protection.
Adapt to the Environment
Aside from covering up, another way to minimize exposure to insects is to be active when they are not. Try to schedule your activities so you are finishing up and settling in before insects come out. You can also remove any items that will attract them to you or your site, such as food, sweet drinks or dirty clothing. Try to place these items far from where you will be relaxing or sleeping as a diversion.
Repellents are not inherently-bad, and they have their place. However, you shouldn't rely on them as a first line of defense. Consider these and other options first, and then use repellents as a way to compliment what measures you have in place. A good repellent may help to keep a small number of insects away for a short time, but nothing will replace creating barriers that insects can not penetrate in the first place.
Learn more about what insects you expect to encounter in the area where you will be staying, and take time to discover what techniques work best to keep them under control. The more you know will go a long way toward helping you to develop an effective way to avoid being eaten alive while you enjoy the great outdoors.