How To: Keep Mosquitoes & Other Annoying Bugs Away from Your Campfire or Backyard Fire Pit

Keep Mosquitoes & Other Annoying Bugs Away from Your Campfire or Backyard Fire Pit

I'll be honest—I've never been a huge fan of camping. It's not that I have anything against nature, I'm just partial to showering and sleeping in my own bed. In fact, the only part of camping I've ever really enjoyed is sitting around a campfire.

Image by Martin Cathrae/Flickr

Outdoor fires are perfect for socializing and cooking hot dogs, but they're also great at helping remove one of camping's biggest annoyances.


Smoke is a natural insect repellent, but there are also a few things you can add to your blazing fire to make it even more effective.

Sage isn't just good for cooking; burning a bundle of it can help keep insects away, and it has a pleasant smell, too. If you're camping, chances are you'll be able to find some variety of sage around; there are over 15 different varieties native to California alone.

Image by jasleen_kaur/Flickr

Another herb called lemon balm can be rubbed onto skin or thrown into a fire to repel bugs, especially mosquitoes. Lemon balm can often be found in the wild, but if you don't want to search for it, potted plants are commonly sold, and you can sometimes even find fresh or dried leaves at health and natural food stores.

Image by Alice Henneman/Flickr

Most of us have burned citronella candles before, but a lot of people don't realize the summer staple takes its name from a plant. You can burn citronella leaves in an outdoor fire for a similar effect, as well as bark from a cedar tree.

Images by Thomas Knox/Flickr, carlfbagge/Flickr

One thing you might not wanna burn? Toilet paper. Last year, a Texas man accidentally started a fire that burned 53,000 acres because he didn't want to leave any litter behind. His intentions were noble, but probably not worth the $2.7 million fine.

If you're looking to stave off wild animals, well sorry, none of these tips will keep bears and mountain lions away (except maybe toilet paper), but there are definitely ways to survive one of those run-ins.

Know of another plant or material that can be burned to keep the bugs away in campfires and backyard fire pits? Share in the comments!

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