It's that time of year where hungry bugs are everywhere. I just go out into my backyard and I swear there's a few dozen mosquitoes sitting on the fence just waiting for me to come out so they can try to get a free snack.
In the woods, as most of you know, it's 50% worse then in your own yard (depending on where you live and what is around your house of course) and while there's plenty of ways to take precautions using chemicals and other various man-made products like citronella, I found what I think is one of the best ways to keep the mosquitoes away. Your campfire is not only great for comfort, cooking and mental state, it's also great at keeping the little nasty's at bay to some extent.
A month back when I got away for some hammock camping in the deep woods of the Deam Wilderness, and found that the mosquitoes were insane with hunger. I did have some Deep Woods OFF with me and always use it on my boots and around my lower pants to help prevent ticks from hitching a ride home with me, but didn't on my upper torso. Even though it was still early in the day, I did some early gathering and got a full day and nights worth of dry tinder. With the Aurora firsteel and a bit of dry crushed leaves, I got a fire going in no time. When I'm alone, I almost always keep my fires small and well contained.
After the fire is established and I have some coals starting to build up, I like to add a few small green branches to the fire to produce a little more smoke than what is typically drifting out.
Even if you're not directly by the fire, just the heat alone seems to keep the worst of the mosquitoes at bay. In the direction the smoke is traveling, they are practically non-existent. being able to do some wood work, cook and just relax in a bug free zone is much more relaxing than smacking yourself over and over AND you don't need to hose yourself down with chemicals this way as well. I'm not saying you need to engulf yourself in a smoky campfire, just stick around it when you're ready to relax and you're set.
Sleeping in the hammock was a complete joy and bug free. The fire remained smoldering most of the night (with one session of adding some sticks around 5:00AM) so I was able to sleep without a bug net and enjoyed a swinging sleep all night long.
As always practicing safe campfire rules is the way to go and be sure your fire is completely extinguished before you leave camp. I always try my best to leave no trace behind that I was even in the area. This is a pic after I broke camp and was walking out. I wish I had a before pic, but it looks just like this.
In closing for the day, I leave you with a pic of a little guy that fell out of a tree and landed on my pant leg. Ticks are think this year so take all the necessary precautions against them as well.
Be safe campers!!!