Natural bug spray alternatives
May 22, 2006 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Help me have sex with my boyfriend outside without being eaten alive by ticks and mosquitos.

My boyfriend and I are going camping this weekend and are very much looking forward to getting naked in the tent. However, bug spray is a necessity, and the smell (and taste) of it doesnt really make us want to take off our clothes.

Are there any natural bug sprays that wouldn't make us recoil so much but still give us the same amount of protection that OFF gives? Do those citronella candles really work?
posted by a red so deep to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I blush to admit this, but I've had sex in a tent many times. Here's the key:

sponge bath.

I'm assuming here that your tent is a modern nylon tent with netting and whatnot, so the ticks and bugs won't actually be *inside* the tent. So use the bug spray or whatever you need to use during the day, then, as evening comes on, take a bath (or shower, if you have a portable shower type thing) just before bed. Then get into bed clean ... and naked.
posted by anastasiav at 6:38 PM on May 22, 2006

Assuming that you do have a modern tent, and that some mosquitoes will leak into the tent when you get into it, just spend a couple minutes swatting the population back down (with the lights on) and then get on down.

Awesome user number, BTW.
posted by intermod at 6:43 PM on May 22, 2006

Well, if I remember correctly from my year in the woods north of Montreal, the secret formula was Avon Skin-So-Soft, mixed with almond oil, mixed with citronella extract. Not really too bad-smelling and definitely worked to some extent.

You could put citronella candles around the outside of your tent, for a romantic effect.

None of these things actually repel the bugs, they just make them unable to locate you, so treating the outside of the tent near the door might help.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:51 PM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus or Bite Blocker. Not as effective as DEET, of course, but they work very well for me, the mosquito-magnet. (DEET irritates my skin.)
posted by desuetude at 7:13 PM on May 22, 2006

A mosquito net maybe ?
posted by elpapacito at 7:20 PM on May 22, 2006

Don't even consider using something DEET based. You do NOT want that anywhere near your genitals.

Trust me on this.

Does your tent not keep bugs out?
posted by tomble at 7:23 PM on May 22, 2006

Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus in Gentle Breeze works surprisingly well and smells very nice. Not perfumey or anything, just a refreshing unisex scent. I'd say it definitely gives the same protection OFF does. I won't use anything else after finding this. You probably can't get it from an Avon rep in a week, but you can certainly order it off amazon.

Also, if you're doin' it in the tent, you don't really need to worry about bugs and the like.

Hope this helps. Good luck, and getcho freak on!
posted by viachicago at 7:35 PM on May 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've had good luck with Off Skintastic. It only has a little DEET in it so it doesn't give you that "I just had a bath in chemicals" feeling that the regular stuff gives you. It has aloe or some other crap in it and it smells and feels ok on your skin.

You could also try a couple of these, which would probably be the only item of clothing in the world that doesn't have a fetish website devoted to it. Not very intimate, I know, but with a little imagination...

The best way to deal with filth when you're camping is to just accept it, but as long as you're still in the denial phase you could bathe each other with baby-wipes before you get busy.
posted by bondcliff at 7:40 PM on May 22, 2006

Tea-tree oil.
posted by RoseovSharon at 8:45 PM on May 22, 2006

I second anastasiav -- shower before bed and zip up that mosquito netting!
posted by kaseijin at 8:54 PM on May 22, 2006

Mosquito coils probably are toxic but they do keep the bugs away. Don't burn yourselves up.
posted by mecran01 at 9:15 PM on May 22, 2006

Put the tent downwind of the campfire with window screens open. The smoke will keep the mosquitoes away. As fire dies down, get in, and close up quick. Bring some wet wipes, wipe off any bug spray from earlier in the day. Use a flashlight and check each other for ticks. They really like the hairline, behind ears, waistband, and any other folds and cracks. Let it get interesting. You should be able to do what ever you want in the tent at this point without worrying about being bit except by your lover.

BTW, if you get in the mood out in the woods, make certain that you are not leaning against a tree with ticks on it. My husband and I had a great time one time, but afterwards realised that the tree was absolutely infested with the little ticks. I picked off over 50 in the 20 minute ride back to town and shower, and ended up bathing in OFF and then a shower. Yuck. Spoiled the whole thing.

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 9:46 PM on May 22, 2006

Some newer repellents using Picaridin as their active ingredient appear to offer about the same protection as the DEET based repellents, without the greasy feel and awful smell of DEET.
posted by paulsc at 10:56 PM on May 22, 2006

Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus in Gentle Breeze works surprisingly well and smells very nice. Not perfumey or anything, just a refreshing unisex scent. I'd say it definitely gives the same protection OFF does.

in my experience, you'd be totally wrong in saying this. I only bring this up because I spent two summer weeks in Venice with that absolute piece of shit Avon product as my only protection from the goddamned monster swarms of mosquitos that emerged out of the canals. I trusted that crap and STILL got bit to death every night. I explained away the problem by deciding that the infestation was so bad as to render ANY bug repellent ineffective.

However, I was not particularly surprised when I read, months later, about the results of a test Consumer Reports had run comparing mosquito repellents. The Avon Skin So Soft repellent had the worst performance out of every product they had tested. I may be making this into a bit of a fish story, but if I remember correctly, the tester got bit MORE with Avon Skin So Soft then when doing the CONTROL, with no repellent.

This washington post article summarizes the conclusions of the Consumer Reports test, the conclusion of which was basically, "If it doesn't have DEET you are wasting your money". Seeing as how the Amazon page for this product touts *as a feature * the fact that it is deet free, I would not buy it. CR apparently *did* test a new type of DEET free (picaridin-based) mosquito repellent that appeared effective, if you are interested.

sorry to not offer too much practical advice, but man, that Avon stuff pissed me off so much. I hate bug bites, and I'm still mad that I could've just gone and bought some DEET repellent and have enjoyed my trip much much more.
posted by fishfucker at 11:02 PM on May 22, 2006

I agree with fishfucker (god that's fun to type) in that anything without DEET has been a placebo at best. I've found wearing long sleeves with a collar and floppy hat protects me better than any product. The DEET can reduce bites but it's not 100% at all, there are always some insane DEET-proof bugs that gun for you anyways.

I did a canoe trip in the Northern Tier Wilderness between Minnesota and Canada, which has I believe the 2nd highest concentration of mosquitos after Alaska in the springtime. Despite the fact that we would all pile into our tents as fast as possible and zip up, the air was so dense with them that easily 10-20 would get in each night.

This is pretty disgusting, but after a few days each tent independently came up with a 'blood towel' that was used each morning to kill all 20 blood-gorged mosquitoes that were all perched at the apex of the tent. Each tent's white fabric was completely bloodstained after a week, we looked like a bunch of serial killers.

F mosquitoes, man.
posted by spatula at 11:17 PM on May 22, 2006

I spent a few months in bug heaven a few years ago and my experience wast that I had to to use DEET, as nasty as it was, to deter bugs. Nothing else worked nearly as well.
posted by rdr at 3:37 AM on May 23, 2006

Here's the actual New England Journal of Medicine. article. Note the list. Bite Blocker is #4 (it's the soybean-oil-based repellant.)
posted by desuetude at 5:59 AM on May 23, 2006

I am a natural mosquito magnet and have had great success with 3M's Ultrathon which has reduced levels of DEET. I am not a big fan of a chemical that can destroy certain materials. Anyway, if you go DEET you can go with lower levels.

About Avon Skin-so-Soft. Yeah, the regular lotion did nothing for me but I was hiking in Alaska so maybe I was doomed from the start.
posted by jadepearl at 8:42 AM on May 23, 2006

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