How To: Keep bugs away while hiking

Hiking combines two incredible things — the great outdoors and physical activity. However, your hiking adventure can go from nature-filled fun to miserable outing if you’re bothered by bugs. To keep your next hiking adventure fun in the sun, here are a few things you can do:

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Avoidance

Avoiding the bugs at large is the best way to keep them away. But, we’re here to get more outdoors and it’s their space so here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your next wild adventure:

  • Avoid peak times of year when bugs are most active. Peak times vary by country, region and the bug so research the areas where you want to hike before planning a whole afternoon of it.

  • Mosquitos are the most active at dawn and dusk so hike in the morning and early afternoon and leave the trail before sunset. Mosquitos also need water to breed so avoid wet trails that have standing water and hiking right after a rainfall.

  • Ticks hide in bushes and tall grass so walk in the middle of trails and avoid trails that require you to walk through tall grass. Also regularly check for ticks, because removing the tick before it has had a chance to bite you is the most efficient way to avoid tick bites.

  • Bees and wasps are attracted to sweet smells and fast movements. Therefore, to limit your encounters with these insects, avoid using scented beauty products before a hike. Also, look out for nests! They can be found in almost anything in nature, but most commonly in hollow trees, hanging from branches or under logs. If you encounter a bee or wasp on the trail, ALWAYS move slowly — running and swatting at it can provoke an attack.

  • Spiders live in small spaces so avoid reaching into areas where you can’t see (like rocks, logs and potential campfire material). Use caution when visiting an outhouse or clearing a picnic area or potential campfire location, you never know what’s underneath something in nature. If you remove shoes or clothing, shake them well before putting them back on to ensure that no creepy-crawly has made your stuff their new home.


How to keep bugs away while hiking

Bug Repellents

All of the aforementioned things will help you avoid unwanted bug encounters. But, if you want to be extra sure that no pest will bother you during your hike, wear bug repellent!

  • DEET is one of the most efficient insect repellents. And although it’s man-made and chemical, the EPA has determined that DEET doesn’t pose health concerns if label directions are followed carefully. It is one of the strongest repellents on the market and there are some questionable ingredients that do concern us healthy hiker ladies but simply put, it is extremely effective at deterring bugs.

  • Essential oils are also often used as natural insect repellents. Naturally derived from plants, the most effective bug repellent comes from the oil of lemon eucalyptus. It is just as effective as low concentrations of DEET at repelling mosquitoes, gnats, ticks and biting flies but you will have to reapply it more often than when using DEET. DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent Using Essential Oils

  • Follow usage directions exactly, because no matter which bug spray you choose, that is the only way that the repellent will truly be effective.


How to keep bugs away while hiking

Clothing

This last category can actually provide you ultimate creepy-crawler protection, without any chemicals at all! Not only does covering most parts of your body prevent again bug bites, it can also add an extra layer of sun protect and a defense against any stickers, cacti and other natural defenses. A common misconception is that dressing in love sleeve and pants can make you hotter but with proper materials, light layers can prove to be the most effective way to hike.

  • Cover up so bugs don’t have a place to bite. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants that are close-fitting at the wrists and ankles, socks, ankle-height shoes, and a hat.

  • Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent bugs from getting inside your pant legs.

  • Wear a hat to keep insects out of your hair.

  • Consider a head net or mesh bug jacket and pants if hiking during peak mosquito times.

  • For EXTRA: Treat clothes and gear with Permethrin, which kills ticks, mosquitos, spiders, chiggers, mites, and many other bugs. A single application of permethrin can last for six weeks or six washings. Or consider purchasing insect-repelling clothing. They look like regular clothes but are pretreated with insect repellent designed to last through multiple washings.


Author Karen Thompson is the editor-in-chief for InsectCop.net, a pest control advice blog focused on helping people prevent, control and get rid of all of the most common pests.