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|Camping Critters and What To Do About Them|
AH! The great outdoors, fresh air, sunshine, open spaces, critters. Yes critters…you know those uninvited little guests that can turn a fun camping trip into a less than pleasant experience. But despair not; with a little common sense and a few precautions you can keep the vermin at bay.
Mosquitoes, Flies, and other flying insects
There’s probably no other pest that can wreck a campout like these guys. They’re more tenacious than a piranha in a gold fish bowl. Keep these guys where they belong, using a bug spray or lotion if you going to be away from camp products with deet work very well. Citronella candles around the campsite will work but effectiveness decreases after a couple of yards or so. If you don’t like to use one of the chemical preparations like deet many campers rely on the natural approach using products that contain essential oils from plants, for some this seems to do the trick. Bees, Wasps and Hornets The best thing to do for these guys is don’t panic, run, swat, throw stuff etc. More times than not they will buzz around for a while and just leave.
A common mistake I see campers and people in general make here is leaving a can of soda or a drink uncovered. Bees and such just love climbing inside of an unattended drink (hey they’re thirsty too!). A word of advice …buy yourself one of those thermal cups with a top on it, they can be used for hot or cold beverages and they keep the bugs away. Don’t forget the trash containers, ones with a top will do wonders for keeping flying insects away from camp.
By now everybody knows that ticks can carry Lyme disease. The best protection against these is to stay out of tall grass and brush. Applying a bug repellent will work to some degree but wearing clothing that covers exposed skin is better yet. During warm weather this may not be possible, so check yourself often. If a tick is found remove it, being sure to get the head out.
If you happen to live in the southwest you already know about the all to common scorpion. A bite from one of these is guaranteed to ruin your day. When found it is best to leave them alone if it isn’t near camp. If it’s in your tent or immediate surroundings you’ll have to take action and remove it. They do have a supply of venom in their tail that is used to immobilize their prey, and they elderly and the very young are the most at risk. Capturing them or getting them to leave is somewhat tricky; the general idea here is to persuade them to crawl inside of a container so they can be removed. Be careful and use common sense to avoid the stinger in the tail.
As with the scorpion, snakes get more active when the weather turns warm. Just because that guy on the TV show picks them up and plays with them doesn’t mean you should. The best rule of thumb is to leave them alone. While hiking remember that snakes are often found on the backside of logs or in crevices. If encountered in camp or on the trail back off. If bitten get immediate medical attention.
Chipmunks, ground hogs, skunks, squirrels etc
But they’re so cute you say? That may be true but they can bite if provoked and may carry rabies. Take your photos but don’t attempt to make them the camp pet. Make sure your trashcan has a cover on it, I have awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of loud rustling noises only to find out a raccoon or skunk was going through our neighbor’s garbage.
With a little common sense, awareness & cooperation your camping trip will be without incident. Remember WE are intruding on THEIR homes.