11 Foods That Keep Bugs Away From Your Campfire (Slideshow)

Like Dracula, bloodsucking mosquitos can't stand the smell or the taste of garlic. Eating a ton of garlic or taking a supplement are also deterrents for mosquitos because the chemical compounds and the smell of garlic mask natural body odors from carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and sweat. Biting insects will have a hard time finding your campfire crew once those scents are disguised. Protect the area by hanging a string of garlic bulbs, but remember to stay inside the magic circle.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is often forgotten, but there are a slew of benefits associated it. Along with numerous health properties, apple cider vinegar also may ward off mosquitos when consumed with regularity. Also, cups filled with apple cider vinegar left around your site will keep buggies at bay. 


You may have heard that bananas attract mosquitos, but forget what you heard. There is evidence that shows that the mosquito avoids the smell of 3-octanol, a chemical found in bananas, grapes, and strawberries. Chowing down on these fruits will make you less appealing to pesky mosquitos.


Much like garlic, onions can be a good way to keep bugs away while enjoying nature. Placing onions in a bowl of water and rubbing onion over the skin are super great mosquito and bug repellents. Some say increasing the amount of onions in a diet helps to deter mosquitos and other insects. Unfortunately, it might be a people repellent as 


We all know that herbs and spices are excellent when whipping up a summer salad or a tasty meat marinade, but some of our favorites are helpful in deterring insect invasions. Using herbs and spices like bay leaves, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, mint leaves, turmeric powder, cloves, and garlic helps to repel ants because of their scents. Putting stalks of rosemary on the hot coals of the barbecue emits an aroma that fends off mosquitos, while adding sage to the campfire or fire pits keeps other bugs away. Lavender, and lavender oil, have a similar effect in driving back the buggies and make for great repellent when mixed with vegetable oil and rubbed on skin.

Tonic Water

Who knew that tonic water had uses other than a summer gin and tonic? Tonic water contains the alkaloid quinine, which is another natural mosquito repellent. Keep tonic water around as a mixer during that summer cookout or campfire gathering to keep away biting bugs.

Brewer’s Yeast

Brewer's yeast, high in thiamine (Vitamin B1) and used in beer, happens to be yet another natural mosquito deterrent. Though undetectable by humans, the odor of brewer's yeast secreting through pores is repulsive to mosquitos. Brewer's yeast comes in tablets, but is also easy to add to recipes or to dilute in water or juice. A couple tablespoons of the stuff in water or food, and the bugs will usually leave you alone. 

White Vinegar

Like apple cider vinegar, white vinegar is a great household ingredient that can help keep your outdoor activities bug-free. Just moisten a cotton ball or cloth with it and rub the dampened cloth over exposed skin to ward off gnats and mosquitos. Use the same technique to bug-proof your picnic table and area. 


Vanilla scents are comforting and homey, but turns out that bugs don't like the smell of vanilla at all. Warding off bugs can be as easy as diluting one tablespoon of vanilla extract with one cup water, and wiping the aromatic mixture on exposed skin and even the tent or the table cloth loaded with your goodies. This sweet-smelling mixture will discourage mosquitos, blackflies, and ticks.

Instant Grits

Instant grits are great for a quick filling breakfast, though some people turn up their noses at the instant variety. Little do they know, instant grits can help keep away ants — a definite campfire, picnic, and barbecue buzzkill. Just sprinkle a little wherever ants are spotted. Maybe instant grits aren't something to be snobby about after all. 

DIY Bug Spray

Camping is made easier with DIY projects, from coffee can toilet paper holders to plastic bottle spoons. Why not bring DIY to bug spray and repellents, too? Try DIY all-natural bug spray using essential oils, witch hazel, water, and vegetable glycerin. For something a little stronger, a vinegar insect repellent will do wonders.