First, mow the area you’re concerned about at least a day (preferably two to three days) before you will be out on the grass. This is probably not possible for a campout, so find a campsite that is either dirt or low, thin grass. If you mow on Thursday evening, then the bugs will have moved on to higher grass or to the woods by party time Saturday.
If you live in a neighborhood where there are no woods or high grass for the bugs to move to, then even more planning might be necessary.
Marigold flowers work well to deter many bugs that are garden pests and Pycnanthemum muticum 'mountain mint' is very effective at keeping chiggers and ticks at bay. Rub the flower’s powder on to clothing to repel insects.
Remember, these suggestions will only work on the ground pests, such as chiggers, ticks and spiders. You’ll still need to do something about the flying insects.
Citronella candles and torches are popular and inexpensive. Ensure the candles are made of soy wax and not paraffin wax. Paraffin is a high-density hydrocarbon known to cause eye, nose and throat irritation, and respiratory distress.
With citronella torches, remember to fill the canisters with citronella oil and let the wicks soak for at least 20 minutes before lighting (look at the instructions on the bottle or torch for specific time). Soy candles are another good option. Soy is a very effective insect repellent.
Perhaps having fire at your party doesn’t seem safe, and indeed this is a consideration if alcohol or children are around. In this case, you might consider buying DEET-free, spray-on repellent. Or, make your own repellent: Visit www.HerbCompanion.com or www.MotherEarthNews.com for tips on homemade repellants. Chemical-free repellents use natural substances such as eucalyptus and tea tree oil, which not only keep the bugs away, but also smell great.
More about natural pest control
• Learn how to stop pest traffic without the toxic chemicals.
• Find out how high school students in Detroit took on pest control—without the pesticides.
• Not all insects are bad. Read about beneficial bugs!