How to Stop and Kill Insects in Your Camping Trips

Most of us, newbies and veterans alike, love our RVs. And, why not? They are a shelter from the outside elements which allows us to camp out for longer periods. Another benefit is that RVs are usually more temperate compared to the outside. They are dry and dark usually with plenty of places to hide. More places to hide means more spaces for insects to thrive.

So, to prevent insects from bugging you in your travels, you should use insect repellents or lotions, install insect screens, wear proper clothing, and close off all entry points for insects. These simple steps can help you solve your insect problem.

What brand of insect repellent should you get? Are insect screens effective? Read more to find out.

How Do I Prevent Insect Bites?

These insects are the most common cause of stress for travellers:

Sandflies or Midges, as they are also known, mainly bite at dawn and dusk. They attack exposed skin and can cause serious discomforts like red lumps and itching.

Mosquitoes are often located in wet and dark areas. Their biting activity will usually peak around dusk.

Flies – there are biting and non-biting flies. The common housefly and blowfly are often associated as a non-biting fly and have the potential to spoil foodstuffs. Another kind of fly is the bush fly which is often found around manure in pastures and makes a nuisance of itself by trying to feed in the corner of your eyes, mouth, and on flesh sores. The biting flies such as March flies and horse (or stable) flies are prevalent in the warmer months. Biting flies can cause itching, pain and some allergic responses.

So, now that you know a bit more about insects, here are the things that could make them go away:

  • Clothing – Cover as much of your body with clothing to avoid insects from having contact with your skin. If that is not practical, say due to heat, then the next best thing is to use a personal insect repellent.

There is now a range of lightweight, quick-drying fabrics for use in summer. Gondwana has a summer collection of shirts they claim are made of “smart fabric” that wicks moisture away from your skin. It is also lightweight, quick-drying, and UV resistant. Outdoor clothing is also available from Mountain Design and Paddy Pallin.

The Sun Protection Australia Shop also stocks long sleeve GoSo lightweight with UV protection for men and women. The men’s long sleeve polo shirt has fine mesh underarm gussets and adjustable sleeve tabs that allow the option of elbow or sleeve length.

  • Hats – a good broad-brimmed hat will not only provide protection from the sun but with a fly net that fits over the hat, it will provide protection for the face and neck against flies.
  • Personal Insect Repellents – comes in the form of lotions, spray, or gel that should be applied some hours before travelling.

Why Should I Use an Insect Repellent?

Insect repellents provide personal comfort from bites. When properly used, insect repellents will help reduce the chance of you getting insect-borne diseases like dengue, Ross River fever, and malaria to name a few. The insect repellent can be in the form of a lotion, aerosol spray or gel and come in plastic tubes or aluminum cans.

As a precaution, you should try it first on a small part of your skin to see if you might get any adverse reaction prior to applying it all over your skin. However, frequent use of any chemical repellent should be avoided.

Most importantly, care should be taken if choosing to use personal repellent on children. Some information available indicates that there should be less than 7.5% DEET in the product if used on toddlers. Most chemical repellents contain DEET (Diethltolumaide) which has been subjected to more scrutiny than any other repellent. You should always refer to the product label before application.

Which Brand of Insect Repellent Should I Get?

Two common brands of insect repellent are Mortein Aerogard and Bushman Repellent. The protection time provided by the repellent depends on a few factors such as humidity and sweating, but mostly on the level of DEET in the product. A higher concentration of the chemical means longer protection time.

For example, “Bushman Plus” repellent claims to have 80% DEET and lasts up to 15 hours of protection against mosquitoes, midges, leeches, March flies, bed bugs, lice, and other insects. In addition, they also have a repellent that includes a sunscreen. Another repellent from the brand is the “Bushman Aerosol” which has 20% DEET concentration with sunscreen. Their website also provides Material Safety Data Sheets for those who require further information.

Mortein claims their “Aerogard Tropical Strength” will provide up to 6 hours protection against flies, mosquitoes, sandflies, leeches, and ticks. “Aerogard Low Scent”, on the other hand, is claimed to provide up to 2 hours of protection. It is also called a 2-in-1 repellent because it comes with sunscreen.

Other brands that we recommend are:

  • Avon – Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil – there have been some people who have disputed that this provides repellent properties. However, this claim was refuted by The New England Journal of Medicine (Vol. 347: 13-18 4/7/02) who reported that when tested the product, it provided 9.6 minutes of protection.
  • Lavender Oil – This oil can provide some relief to itching. Carry some pure essential lavender oil as part of your first aid kit. For mosquito bites, place a dab of the oil on the bite spot. After a while, you should experience relief from the itching sensation in a few minutes.

How Do I Keep Midges Out of My Caravan?

Conventional fly screens on caravans, motorhomes, fifth wheelers, and camper trailer tents are unlikely to keep out smaller insects such as midges. So, the only solution for this is closing all windows and doors around dusk.

However, when caravan doors are closed, they still have a small gap between the door and the wall of the caravan. This gap can allow access to small insects. If not already fitted, you can purchase a spline that retains insect mesh in the groove of the door extrusion.

To keep out midges, you need a fly screen mesh of about 20 x 20 or 20 x 30 strands per inch. Some caravanners have made up another fly screen that they Velcro over the top of the existing screen in the hope that this will prevent the entry of smaller insects such as the midge.

The downside of the smaller mesh size is it inhibits the airflow through your RV. This may not be an issue if you are located on a powered site and choose to use the air conditioner. However, when you are camping in remote areas and run out of power, this can be dangerous (you can potentially run out of the air).

Another option is to use an electrical insect zapper. Mortein produces an odourless mozzie zapper which plugs into 240V AC. The products have two types that are about the size of a tennis ball. One of them has a small mat which you take from a foil pack and slide under the protective grill. In addition, it must sit on the heat plate to be effective. Meanwhile, the other type has a liquid refill but has been designed to take both the liquid and the mat. The manufacturer claims the product is effective for up to 10 hours.

Are There Insect Screens for RVs?

There is a magnetic flexible insect screen available to fit over weather shields and sliding windows which will enable you to leave the window open for ventilation. Similarly, there is a magnetic insect screening curtain for the slide door doorway.

There is also a product Rollaway Cassette Insect Screening System for the sliding door of say the Fiat Torino and it is also suitable for the tailgate opening of campervans and for some doors of bus conversions. There are flexible magnetic screens for roof hatch on Silver Eaglebus.

Related Questions

What Scent Keeps Spiders Away?

Essential Oils and Vinegar Sprays. Eucalyptus, tea-tree or even peppermint oils might keep the spiders out. While some might enjoy the smell, the spiders do not. Spray around windows and doors.

Does Dry Cleaning Kill Bed Bugs?

Then take dry clean clothes to a professional cleaner for cleaning and pressing. Drying will kill the bugs but not clean the clothes. If you want to only kill bed bugs and do not need to wash your clothes, simply putting infested items in the dryer for 30 minutes on high health will kill all the bed bugs.

What’s A Good Natural Insect Repellent?

Oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD). This natural oil, which comes from the lemon eucalyptus tree, is recommended by the CDC as an alternative to DEET. … Several studies have found this natural bug repellent as effective as DEET in repelling mosquitoes. It may also work well against ticks.

Does Insect Repellent Expire?

Insect repellent usually lasts for several years before losing its effectiveness. … Smell the repellent. If the product doesn’t smell like it normally does, it’s possibly expired. If you have a cream or gel repellent, squeeze some out of the packaging.


James Mitchell

Hi, I’m Jimmy Mitchell and I love exploring this great country with my wife and two boys. I have a 2015 Sterling LX that is the Mitchell Family camping machine. Lets Getaway is the website where I share things about my trailer as I learn them, and help other camper owners to enjoy their RV even more.

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