Pests, including insects such as flies, ants, and spiders, and rodents including mice and rats, are common in many camping and remote travel areas, and are an unpleasant occurence when exploring the great outdoors. This article provides an overview of the common pests you are likely to encounter, and how to stop them from spoiling your fun!

Flying Insects

Flying Insects are both the most mobile, and common, pests you will encounter, keep reading for all of the information you need to help you protect yourself from Flies and Mosquitoes.

Flying Insect Species

Australia is well known for its abundant fly population, particularly in semi-arid areas, and these are likely to be the most persistent and annoying pest you'll run in to. The most common are the non-biting species known as the Common House Fly, and their relative the Bush Fly and although they are not harmful to humans, the sheer number of them make them a priority when planning insect protection. Also commonly found are biting fly species including Horse/March Flies, Stable Flies, and Biting Midges (also known as Sand Flies), which can deliver painful bites that may also trigger allergic reactions in rare cases.

Another flying insect to watch out for are the various species of Mosquitoes found near water bodies and in temperate and sub-tropical climates. The main threat posed by Mosquitoes (as well as the annoying bites) are the blood borne diseases they may carry, in Australia the diseases spread by mosquitoes are Dengue Fever (Far North QLD only), Australian Encephalitis, Ross River
Virus and Barmah Forest Virus. For this reason, personal protection from Mosquito bites is crucial, particularly when travelling through areas where these diseases are reported as being active.

How to Protect Yourself from Flying Insects

There are many effective ways to protect yourself from flying insects, both while at camp and out and about, here are our top tips:

  • Physical Barriers

    Wear as much protective clothing as possible including long sleeved shirts and long pants, and if possible a Mosquito Headnet, also ensure that you have ample mosquito nets setup at camp.

  • Personal Insect Repellants

    Either commerical insect repellants such as Bushman's and Aeroguard or home-made insect repellants (common ingredients include Dettol, Citronella Oil, Eucalyptus Oil etc), should be applied frequently to exposed skin), also avoid wearing black or blue clothing as insects are attracted to these colours.

  • Repellants at Camp

    Use insecticide sprays formulated specifically for flying insects, as well as items such as citronella lamps and candles to keep bugs at bay, another tip is to use yellow camp lights as these are not as attractive to insects as white lighting.

Crawling Insects

Crawling insects such as ants and cockroaches have the potential to invade your campite, belongings and food, here are some tips for how to stop this from occurring, as it's far better to stop them before they get into your things, than to get rid of them once they're there!

How to Protect Yourself from Crawling Insects

  • Setting up Camp

    The best protection from ants is to make sure that your camp site is as ant-free as possible from the start. Check the surrounding areas for anthills and if you find any, try to set up camp as far away from these as possible. Stay away from thick bushy areas and tree trunks. Also, try to set up camp away from any tall grass and rubbish facilities (if staying at an established campground).

  • At Camp

    Keeping your campsite clean is also very important. Food crumbs, spilt drinks, or exposed garbage are likely to invite ants and cockraoches. Ensure that you dispose of all garbage appropriately. Also ensure that all entrances to your tent or other accommodation remain securely closed to prevent access by larger insects such as cockroaches.

  • Deterrents and Insesticides

    A common deterrant suggested particularly for ants is using talcum powder as a barrier around your tent/campsite/camper trailer or caravan. Another investment is a non-toxic (to animals and humans) insecticide surface spray (a good tip is to look for natural insecticides from gardening product manufacturers).


Introduced species of rats and mice in Australia carry diseases, cause damage to tents and vehicles, and can reach plague proportions in remote outback and farming areas. Here are some tips for minimising their impact on your trip.

Don't Attract Them

As with ants and cockroaches, rodents are attracted to food. Properly dispose of food waste, and keep food in secured storage containers. They are also attracted to warmth and enclosed spaces, so firstly if you're in an area where there are rodent problems, once your vehicle is parked, leave the bonnet up to clear residual engine warmth and prevent rodents from nesting in your engine bay (as they can nibble on wiring and hoses causing expensive and inconvenient damage). Also ensure that you make your campfire a sufficient distance from your tent or other accomation, as the warmth generated (even when extinguished) can attract rodents.

Repel Them

There are a number of commercial rodent repellants on the market, alternatively repellants such as peppermint oil, moth balls, dryer sheets, napthalene or camphor could be used to deter rodents at your campsite.

Trap Them

Whether you're using commercially available (such as snap traps) or home-made traps (such as a bucket trap), traps are the most efiicient way for delaing with a rodent problem at your camp site. Baits such as peanut butter, bacon, or cheese all work well, and another important tip is to ensure that you dispose of dead mice carefully by wearing rubber gloves, placing dead mice in plastic bags and then disposing of in outdoor rubbish facilities, and disinfecting the area the mice were trapped.

Pest Control While Travelling

Pests are a part of camping and experiencing nature and cannot be completely avoided, however, taking some simple precautions will minimise their impact on your trip. Using the tips from this article, and remembering not to take any measures that may have a harmful impact on the environment or the native wildlife, will ensure that your pest control measures are not only effective but responsible. Also important is to learn about the areas you will be travelling to, and to find out whether there are any potential pest problems so that you'll be prepared, and as pest free as possible!

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Created: September 2011
Revised: March 2012
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