Tis’ the season…  for flying insects here in Oz! So, here’s some hacks on how to bug-proof your next outdoor mission.


I can’t be the only one that forgets flies exist for nine months of the year?

I was reminded of them today when one landed on my face. When it landed there for the sixth time, I remembered how much I hate them. 


Not my feet… thank god. Pic: Michael Lusk/Flickr


Those little buggers are harbingers of summer, but they’re not the worst flying insect you’ll encounter out and about this insect season. 

As bad as it is watching a fly rub its grubby little mitts together before vomiting on your food — you just know that’s what they’re doing — it’s much worse getting the life sucked out of you by mosquitoes (Spanish for ‘little fly’) while camping, hiking or otherwise enjoying the outside world. 

Thankfully, there’s a thing or two you can do about those bloodsuckers, flies, ticks and whatever else creepy crawly that’s bugging you — pun very much intended.


Insect Repellent Gear - Our Guide To Getting Them To Bug-Off

There’s also this wacky thing called the ‘Shooaway Fly Fan‘ which I discovered writing this piece. It’s basically an anti-fly windmill! Say what!!

Insect Repellent Gels

The most obvious place to start, and the method everyone’s familiar with, insect repellents are pretty self explanatory!

‘Pass the bushman’s’ is an iconic summer catch cry in my house and there’s plenty of application methods to choose from. 

The most common active ingredient in these sprays and gels is DEET, which has a 60 year history and is consistently voted the most effective.


Insect Repellent Gear - Our Guide To Getting Them To Bug-Off


While many confuse the higher the DEET% with the strength of the product, it actually refers to the duration of its effectiveness.

In theory, a 20% DEET product will be as effective as an 80% DEET product, it just won’t last as long. 

A Bushman’s Pump Spray with 20% DEET will offer around 8 hours protection, while their Ultra DryGel with 80% DEET will last for 15 hours, making it supposedly the most effective formula in Australia. 

At just 75 grams the Gel is also highly portable for overnight hikes and camping trips when you’ll encounter any manner of biting insects. As a gel it’s also more water and sweat resistant than some lighter formulas. 


Insect Repellent Gear - Our Guide To Getting Them To Bug-Off


There are three other widely proven repellents in addition to DEET which are picaridin, permethrin and allethrin. 

If you’re looking for a slightly more natural active ingredient, ‘Oil of lemon Eucalyptus’ (OLE) is also an effective ingredient for flies and the like, but reportedly less so for ticks.

Insect Repellent Candles and Coils

When you think Mozzie coils or candles, you’re probably thinking about Citronella — a naturally occurring oil that repels insects. 

Although it’s been around for centuries, the jury is still somewhat out on its efficacy — or at least its reliability. According to an article published in the Malaria Journal in 2011: ‘Citronella has found its way into many commercial preparations through its familiarity, rather than its efficacy.’

‘Originally extracted for use in perfumery, It was used by the Indian Army to repel mosquitoes at the beginning of the 20th century, and was then registered for commercial use in the USA in 1948.’



But this is supposed to be a guide and not a history lesson, so all you really need to know is, it’s one of the most widely used natural repellents on the market today.

Sandalwood is in a similar boat and the two are often combined in coils for a more pleasant smell. Other essential oils derived from plants and commonly diffused include peppermint, lemongrass, geraniol, pine oil, pennyroyal, cedar oil, thyme oil and patchouli.

They work to distract and disorient mosquitoes from locking onto your scent, more so than being actually harmful to them.


Insect Repellent Gear - Our Guide To Getting Them To Bug-Off

You can even find Citronella infused washing liquid to keep bugs away from camping dishes.

Insect Repelling Accessories

Another way to enjoy those natural oils mentioned above is through things like wrist and ankle bands. 

The Parakito Insect Repellent Colour Band uses a pellet infused with essential oils from geranium, rosemary, mint, peppermint, clove and cinnamon. This is tucked into a wristband which acts as a diffuser for an ultra-natural approach to combating mosquitoes.


Long Clothing & Insect Repellent-Infused Clothing

If the mozzies have circumvented your candles, coils, fancy bracelet, and thick insect repellent (kudos to them), then your last and arguably best barrier of defence is the layers you’re wearing. 

While it’s not always practical to wear loose-fitting long sleeves and tucking pants into socks at your neighbours BBQ, it will help. 


Hiking the Bibbulmun Track: A Thousand Emotions in 1000km, Photos by Steve Willems and Caroline Grandjean-Thomsen, woman, hike, pack, flies, grimmace, hat

Caroline Grandjean-Thomsen putting up with a few hundred flies in the southern section of the Bibbulmun Track. Pic: @greatwalksoftheworld


It’s also reported that dark colours attract mosquitoes more than light colours

However, it’s actually possible to buy, or create for yourself, insect repellent infused clothing.

Mosquito repellent clothing is typically infused with the insecticide permethrin. Brands like Insect Shield bond the permethrin with the fabric fibres in clothes that are ready to buy, for an invisible and odourless protection that lasts up to 70 washes. 

However, you can buy permethrin treatment packs for yourself and even apply these to other outdoor gear like camp chairs, tents and sleeping bags. Insect Shield believes that permethrin will stay adhered to gear for up to 25 washes.

To bite or not to bite?

Obviously all the above brands will be the first to tell you, ‘there’s no such thing as mosquito-proof clothing.’

So, while there’s plenty you can do to stop flying pancrustacean hexapod invertebrates (been doing some research Matt? – Ed.), sometimes they’ll just have the last laugh. 

Especially, when they see you wearing this…


Insect Repellent Gear - Our Guide To Getting Them To Bug-Off


When all else fails, pick a camping buddy more desirable to mozzies than you…


Cover Image by braerik/Flickr