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Unwanted Camp Visitors


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schessl | Green Wave Forum News
Published Sunday, June 14, 2009

Raccoon It's time to chase those pesky unwanted visitors from your campsite. No, I'm not talking about the loud couple that had five too many beers or the pack of kids wandering through looking for an electrical outlet to plug in their Xbox. I'm talking about the furry kind that seems to sniff out your camp cooking from miles away.  

Here is a quick list to keep bugs, skunks, squirrels, crows, ravens, bears and, the most notorious camp bandit of all, the raccoon, at bay.


Rule #1:
Do not feed wild animals! Not only is this illegal in most parks but it hampers the animals natural ability to scavenge for food and encourages them to come back and harass the next camper.


Rule #2:
It's all about food. The main reason that animals will visit your campsite is food. They are not there for a friendly visit or to have their pictures taken. They are hungry and you are offering an easy meal. Some tips:

  • Store your food in a difficult to open container - like your car.
  • Never put food in your tent. Many a tent has been shredded as animals search for a tasty treat.
  • It's iffy if you should leave food in your kayak. If you have the food sealed in closed containers or bags inside of a dry bag, inside of a closed deck boat with airtight hatch, you should be OK.
  • No car or airtight hatch? Put the food in a dry bag and hang from a tall tree. Make sure that it is at least 4 to 5 feet from the ground and 4 to 5 feet from any nearby branch.
  • Clean up any spilled food.
  • Do not dump grease, bones or food on the ground, especially near your campsite.
  • Do not bury unwanted food - burn it, pack it out or put in trash/dumpster if you are at a state park or developed campsite.
  • Wearing dinner tonight? That food that you dumped down the front of your paddling shirt will attract animals too. Don't simply toss it in your tent or boat.
  • Wash and rinse your dishes, pots and pans.


Rule #3:
It's not bears and alligators you need to worry about - it's the bugs. One of the most challenging aspects to camping in Florida is dealing with insects. We have every type of biting pest imaginable and a few that you can't even imagine until they take a chunk out of you. Tips to save your behind (and the rest of your body too):

  • Pick a campsite away from dark bushy woods, deep grass or stagnant ponds.
  • Wind can be a bummer and make it difficult to setup your tent, however it also keeps the flying insects away
  • At night, position your lantern or other light source well away from where you are sitting
  • A campfire and Citronella candles seems to keep bugs at bay
  • Do not use a flashlight or lantern when entering or exiting your tent. Keep the mosquito netting closed at all times.
  • Don't buy the cheapest tent you can find - it usually has netting big enough to keep sparrows out, but mosquitoes and no-see-ums will find their way in.
  • When in doubt, use DEET. A generous slathering of bug repellent will keep off the nastiest of biting flies and mosquitoes. If your skin is sensitive, spray it on your clothing.
  • Wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants and socks during early morning and late evening hours.
  • A tip from paddlesolo, one of our Green Wave Forum Experts: Try bug repellent clothing, such as the Orvis BUZZ OFF line of apparel. It provides an effortless alternative to traditional bug sprays and lotions and works to help prevent bites from mosquitoes, ticks and other annoying insects such as ants, flies, chiggers, and midges or no-see-ums.
  • If you are planning on camping during the summer months, my recommendation is don't. Still insist on going? Get a mosquito headnet. With some locations like the Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands you'll need it.

So there you have it. Helpful tips to avoid unwanted camp visitors and pests. If you have tips of your own, add them in the comments area below.


Last update Wednesday, May 02, 2012


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Cmt Unwanted Camp VisitorsLogin to Post   
You are in the public comment zone. What follows is not from Green Wave Forum; it comes from other people and we don't vouch for it.
riverrat352 on 5/2/2012 9:11am
"It's not the bears and alligators you need to worry about - it's the bugs."... How true!!! ... One you forgot to mention: ANTS... They get worse as the weather warms but are allways present. The best advice i can give on this is Keep a clean campsite. Spilled or open food will be discovered quickly by these little pests. Greasy or sugary foods are a favorite keep the outside of containers with such foods clean. If they get a taste of whats inside they will chew trough zip-lock bags and such. Watch where you sit or step sitting in a fire ant hill sucks. Be carefull when gathering firewood. Getting halfway back to camp and realizing you're covered in ants is no fun. Don't eat in your tent
admin on 6/26/2009 5:26pm
Classic story about raccoons. Thank you for sharing paddlesolo!
paddlesolo on 6/19/2009 5:12pm
One of my favorite childhood camping stories concerns the coons that stole our bread and cookies. Our family had a 16'x16' army surplus tent and when we went camping we loaded up a trailer with mattresses, metal springs and set up our beds on cement blocks. Mom had stored the bread and cookies she had baked for the week in a metal bread box under the bed. During the night she heard something sniffing around and rattling the bread box. She said "Frank, (my father) get out of the cookies" But in the morning we realized the coons had gotten most of our baked goods. After that mom slept with a ball bat to shoo the coons away when they came in the tent.