summer

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

updated Dec 17, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(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?