Skills & Techniques

Tips for Dealing with Bugs in the Outdoors

Susy Alkaitis - August 4, 2019

Mosquitoes and ticks bite! They can transmit diseases and spoil a great trip outdoors. However, you don’t have to let bugs ruin your fun. If you are heading out into the summer swarm this season, check out these tips to help you avoid the bug bites and Leave No Trace. 
Prepare for Buggy Environments
Plan ahead to bring what you need to avoid becoming an insect’s evening meal. Bring the appropriate clothing and gear to prevent bug bites and enjoy your time outdoors.

Wear long sleeves and pants to cover exposed skin. Tuck your pants into socks or boots to prevent ticks and insects from getting underneath clothing. For extremely buggy conditions, consider bringing a head net to keep the bugs away from your face and neck. Planning for the weather, the conditions, and the bugs is the first step to have an awesome trip outdoors. 
Use Bug Spray Sparingly and Keep It out of Waterways
If you plan to use bug spray make sure to read the label. Some insect repellents should be applied directly to the skin, while others, like permethrin, are meant for clothing only.

Make sure to use only as much as needed and avoid accidentally adding insect repellents to streams or waterways. Insect repellents can be harmful to birds, fish, and aquatic insects. Prevent bug spray from hurting aquatic wildlife by rinsing off bug spray 200 feet (70 big steps) from waterways before entering the water.
Travel on Trails in the Center of the Path
The best way to avoid a hitchhiking tick is to avoid walking through the areas they live. Ticks and other biting insects often live in tall grass and brushy wooded areas.

To lower your exposure, stick to established trails and walk in the center of the path. This will reduce your contact with grasses and brush and the likelihood of picking up a tick. Walking in the center of the trail also helps protect trails, reduces erosion, and prevents damage to plants on the sides of the trail.

Leave What You Find and Leave the Ticks Behind
Transporting ticks and insects can spread disease to new areas and people. Check yourself daily for ticks and insects. Additionally, check all pets, gear, and clothes during and after your trip.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests placing clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill any ticks that may be present. By performing daily checks and removing ticks from you, your pets, and your gear, you can keep yourself safe and prevent spreading ticks and the diseases they carry.

Want to know more about tick prevention and removal? Learn more at

Although ticks and mosquitoes are sometimes an inevitable part of going outside, they don’t have to ruin your outdoor experience. Remember these tips next time you go out to help you Enjoy Your World and Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace’s Cameron Larnerd and Nick Whites are part of the 2019 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of AmericaREIEagles Nest OutfittersDeuterThuleFjällräven and Klean Kanteen.

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