As spring draws tantalizingly closer, if you’re anything like me, you’re starting to itch for outdoor adventures that don’t include frostbite or sliding around on ice. When you love camping/hiking/getting your butt outdoors to enjoy nature in all its forms, you’re well aware that you can easily spend as much time preparing to battle the elements as you’ll get to relax in the sunshine.

I’m all about taking shortcuts and skipping some of that not-so-essential gear, but one thing you can’t cut out is warding off bugs. Fortunately, you can combine insect-repelling with planning your food intake while you’re away from home. Here’s a handy list of natural bug repellents that you can end up snacking on or throwing into a cozy campfire soup:


repel bugs

Photo by Caroline Liu

Lemon juice mixed with water can be sprayed on yourself, your pets, and your gear to keep the bugs off. Use the leftovers for some pineapple lemonade at your campsite, add zest to a lightly-flavored meal, or top some rice.


repel bugs

Photo by Lynden Orr

Slice up some cucumbers to take along a simple salad and then leave them lying around your campsite to keep the ants at bay – the bugs will hate the bitter skins.


repel bugs

Photo by Anna Beckerman

Eat something garlicky every day leading up to your excursion and become less attractive to bugs. Incorporate as much as you can into your outdoor cooking and the smell will also ward off pests.


repel bugs

Photo courtesy of

Take some with you and sprinkle in a circle around your campsite or tent and the scent will make bugs reluctant to cross the line. Then make up some delicious dessert or top off a mug of hot chocolate.

Vanilla Extract

repel bugs

Photo courtesy of Stuart on Flickr

Rub some vanilla on your exposed skin and not only will you smell delicious, you’ll also be safe from mosquitoes and other bugs for about half an hour to an hour. You’ll also be prepared for some simple no-bake cookies you can whip up over the campfire.