Natural Bug Repellents for Camping

| 6/11/2010 4:11:00 PM

I shared the long Memorial Day weekend with friends on 40 acres of Ponderosa Pine and White Oak forest near the Klickitat River. This was my first trip to the rugged Washington wilderness and I found its rocky hills and thick woods crawling with lizards and rattlesnakes and scorpions breathtaking!

It was sunny spring perfection, so we hiked deer trails for hours exploring wild plants like Lomatiums, tasty Alliums, and ripening blackcap raspberries.  A fresh spring trickled from the rocks and we collected cold mountain water to make wild rose tea in the mornings.

Klickitat, Washington.

During one afternoon expedition, we came across a wet patch abloom with yellow arnica flowers. Anyone who has spent time in arnica habitats will know the strong affinity this plant has for mosquitoes. Thousands and thousands of buzzing, blood-sucking mosquitoes! As we gathered to admire the heart-shaped leaves of the Arnica cordifolia, a hungry swarm clouded around us. Thankfully, I was prepared with a strong homemade insect repellent that kept them at a comfortable distance. Thinking ahead, I’d also made an astringent spray and poultice powder to apply to pesky bites, hiking scratches, and campfire burns.

Back at camp, a band of excited children wrapped white sage and cinnamon sticks in newspaper to make fragrant and effective fire starters. They marched triumphantly around the blaze, tooting their horsetail whistles as the herby campfire smoke proved inhospitable to the buggy invaders.

Herbal fire starters are fragrant and effective.