Festival season has arrived and it's in full swing! That means means late night jam sets, meeting new friends around a campfire, and seeing your favorite artists – all in one weekend! Summer also brings a slew of pest problems, especially if your home for the weekend is a tent in the woods (shared with 20-50k other people). There is a lot of preparation needed before a music festival to make sure that you’re ready to have a comfortable weekend with your friends.
You know what will put a damper on your music festival weekend? Getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, stepping on a red ant colony, or finding out weeks after you're back home that you’ve contracted Lyme disease. My name is Katie Nelson, and I am the Regional Manager at Spidexx Pest Control. I have been attending music festivals for seven years, and have dealt with just about every pest issue over that time.
I will be attending my 7th Summer Camp Music Festival, in Chillicothe, IL, over Memorial Day weekend in a week. Here are my personal pro tips for a bug free festy weekend!
Make Bug Spray a Priority and Dress Appropriately
Whether you prefer a more natural spray using essential oils, or prefer to just soak yourself in Deet – that’s your decision. I personally make my own spray for mosquitoes, which uses lemongrass and lavender with water and alcohol (and smells amazing!!). If you’re looking for something with a little more protection, you can opt for a product with Deet as an active ingredient; but be careful when applying as it can be harmful if applied directly to skin.
It’s a good idea to throw a flannel or long sleeve on at dusk, which is prime feeding time for mosquitoes. If you’re in an area with heavy activity, like next to a lake or river, a light throw will be a must-have for the weekend. Hopefully it’s not too hot, and you can protect some of the easier to reach areas day and night.
Shut your Tent – EVERYTIME
This doesn’t need explanation. Zip your tent up every time you leave it, to keep spiders, ants, and other pests from moving into your space.
Know the Environment You’re Camping In
I have attended over 35 music festivals, from West Virginia to Illinois, and down to Southern Florida (and everywhere in between). If I’ve learned anything, it’s that no festival is the same – and neither are the bugs common to the area. It’s crucial to know what type of environment you’re entering. Are you spending the weekend in Arizona, or are you in the swamps of Northern Florida? Are there poisonous or dangerous insects/creatures common where you’re going? If so, be aware of their identification and what to do if you’re bit by something poisonous (like the Brown Recluse Spider which is common near Southern Illinois). A little research about the area will go a long way.
Choose Your Site Carefully
When you arrive take time to scope out the lay of the land, and choose an ideal site to reduce insects hanging out around your campsite.
Here are things to look out for and avoid:
- Heavily wooded areas
- Areas near water
- Trash/bathrooms (but not too far!)
- Low ground – not only will your tent get flooded if it rains, but all that water will attract more bugs
Keep your Campsite Clean
This goes without saying; but trash is still a HUGE problem at larger festivals like Summer Camp, where there are over 30k+ attendees every year. Please don’t trash your campsite, the festival grounds, or anywhere else for that matter. Bring trash bags for your campsite and keep them as far away from your hang out areas as possible.
No one is expecting you to clean up at 2AM after a long day of walking and dancing – but make it a habit to clean up anything that wasn’t handled the previous day once you wake up. Separate recycling, garbage, and compost. This helps the trash team remove the trash easier and get it out of the area in a timely manner. Every morning take your trash to the designated area, after you clean up your campsite. This will greatly reduce the amount of bugs you have around your area. It will also make your campsite feel more homey with a fresh start each morning.
Check Yourself for Ticks Daily
This is extremely important. I have had several friends contract Lyme disease at music festivals, which changed their life significantly. Check your hair, edges of clothing, etc.; and remind your friends to do the same. Lyme disease is just one of the diseases ticks carry. If you did get bit by a tick check out the symptoms of Lyme Disease.
Citronella is Your Friend
Citronella oil is a plant-based insect repellent and can be found in candles and tiki torches. They are great for adding extra lighting, and creating a relaxing vibe at your site. Just be careful if you set them up that they’re away from other tents or objects that could potentially start fire. They work best for smaller festivals, where space isn’t an issue; and they can help to separate your site from the neighbors. And as a bonus, that citronella will naturally repel insects from your site!
Bring Bug Bite Medicine and Ibuprofen
If you do find yourself with a bug bites whether from mosquitoes, ticks, no-see ums, spiders, etc – make sure that you treat the area with a bite medicine, and take Ibuprofen if you’re having any pain. If you’re having a severe reaction, find the medical tent and they will be able to help you get the medicine you need, or transport you to a hospital if necessary.
Prepare for the Worst…then Enjoy Your Weekend
As long as you’re prepared, you’ll be ready for whatever challenges come with festival living (there’s always something)! Make a list of everything you need, and check things off as you pack them. If you forgot something (like bug spray), check the vendors and you’ll usually be able to find one on site.
Happy 2018 Festival Season! Drop your personal top tips to keep your campsite pest free this season in the comments below!