ATV camping is always fun with the company of family and friends but it can get rather annoying when the company is a bunch of back country insects. Back country insects are just part of the territory when camping. It is unrealistic to think you are going to completely avoid insects but you can reduce the likelihood that you’ll have a bad experience with them.
The back country is home to several types of insects and most would prefer to avoid human contact but there are some that prey on humans and other warm blooded mammals. Then there are some that are basically harmless unless threatened or disturbed in anyway. The following is a list of back country insects one might encounter on their ATV camping excursion:
- Mosquitoes – There are about 3,500 different types of mosquitoes throughout the world and for the most part they feed on the nectar of plants. There are however several species where the female mosquito feeds on the blood of mammals. These mosquitoes are know to carry diseases from one mammal to another. Their bites cause severe itching in some cases.
- Flies – There are about 240,000 different types of flies and for the most part they are just annoying flying pests but there are some that bite or sting, ie horse flies.
- Ticks – Classified as external parasites feed on the blood of mammals and attach themselves to a host until fully engorged. These tiny little bugs are also know for carrying diseases from one mammal to another.
- Ants – There are over 22,000 species of ants. Where there is an ant there is a whole colony of ants nearby. These little scavengers are know to find exposed food sources very quickly especially at campgrounds. When disturbed or threatened they will bite.
- Bees/Wasps – Like the ant bees and wasps live in colonies and are probably the biggest threat while camping in the back country.
- Spiders – There are about 40,000 different types of spiders and the back country is home to many of these eight legged arachnids. The biggest threat will be from the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse spiders but there are others.
- Scorpions – Like the spider the scorpion has eight legs but also has two grasping claws and a narrow, segmented tail with a venomous stinger at the end. Some scorpions have been known to attack humans with little to no provocation, while others will only attack when threatened.
- Chiggers – Extremely annoying little bug with six legs whose bite causes severe itching. These little bastards can’t just bite you on the arm or leg, no they like the warm skin fold areas like your arm pits, behind your knees and most unfortunately your private areas.
To help reduce the amount of insects you might encounter on your back country camping trip try to avoid tall grass, weeds and stagnate water when selecting a campsite. Walk the area first looking for signs of insects, spider webs, ant hills or heavy concentration of bees or wasps.
Wear plain colored clothing, insects are attracted to bright colors. Treating your clothing with a permethrin repellent will help repel ticks, mites and mosquitoes. Permethrin repellents should NEVER be applied to skin; they are to be used on clothing only.
Use an insect repellent with 30% DEET on your skin to avoid having to reapply it every couple of hours. Insect repellents containing DEET are effective against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, biting flies and chiggers but will NOT repel stinging insects such as wasps and bees. There are some concerns with the use of DEET on children, always follow the directions carefully when treating children.
It is a good idea to wear gloves when retrieving firewood as these are good spots for spiders and scorpions to hide. A smoky campfire is a great insect repellent if there are no fire restrictions in the area. Keep your tent closed as much as possible to avoid insects from entering.
Keep your campsite clean of trash, food scraps and anything else that may attract insects. You will never make your campsite 100% free of insects but you can reduce the effect they have on your ATV camping adventure.