Tell Us How You Keep the Bugs Away When You’re Outside

updated Dec 17, 2019
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(Image credit: Samantha Bolton)

Oh, summer! Short shorts and long nights, beach days and bike rides — for three months, life just feels more buoyant and carefree. Except when there are bugs to contend with. As it turns out, I am an absolute bug magnet. Mosquitos and midges, black flies and bees, gnats and no-see-ems — they all love me and whatever it is I’m eating or drinking. And that puts a real damper on my outdoor fun.

Short of running for shelter, how can I keep those bugs away? Can you help?

My relationship with bugs is long and itchy. If a biting insect has the choice between you and me, it will definitely choose me. When I am running, gnats fly into my eyes, mouth, ears, and hair. When I am idling outside, minding my own business, I get stung. I have even been stalked by a tarantula. (Is that even a bug? It was so big and furry.)

Then there’s the problem of bugs getting into my food and drink. Flies in my wine? Check. Ants in my sandwich? Check, check. When I was a kid, a wasp flew into my brother’s container of juice. He drank the juice, spit the wasp out and I, thinking it was dead, went to pick it up with a paper towel only to get a stinger in my finger. Naturally.

Despite the one-sided attraction, I haven’t really done a whole lot in the way of prevention. To protect myself, I’ve tried bug sprays (natural and not-so-natural), but they tend to be ineffective, smell terrible, contain chemicals I don’t really want to be putting on my skin, or some combination of the above. To protect my food and drink, I’ve mostly been inclined to take the swat-and-run approach (i.e., swat at the bugs and when they don’t leave me and my cold beverage alone, run away).

But this summer, it’s a resolution of mine to spend as much time outdoors as possible. That means going into the season with a plan — and I need your help.

Do you have any tried-and-true ways of keeping those pests at bay? A secret for keeping the sand flies out of your hoagie, the ants out of your camembert, and the bees far from your sweet nectars?