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How to Not Get Eaten Alive by Bugs This Summer

From bug-repelling sweatpants to chic citronella candles, here’s everything you’ll need to properly outfit your summer bug survival kit.
Ian Burke
Brooklyn, US
June 24, 2021, 5:58pm
Screen Shot 2021-06-24 at 10
Photo: Composite by VICE Staff

Ahem. We’re pro-mosquito killing. There, we said it! [PETA loads crossbow.] We’re also pretty much pro-killing any and all bugs that pose an itchy, bite-y threat this summer—of which, there are many. And, as hot and spicy as it may be, we think many of you probably share that take. (Though, if you do know anyone who enjoys getting eaten alive by summer bugs, please shoot us an email at your earliest convenience. We’d love the pageviews on that op-ed.)  

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Now, there are lots of methods—and just as much madness—that purport to coerce and convince bugs to leave you and your tasty, tasty flesh alone. According to our paint-throwing friends over at the aforementioned nonprofit, for example, “Taking B-complex vitamins or eating brewer’s yeast daily (including taking it in tablet form) during the summer months will help keep you mosquito-bite-free.” So, you could try that. (We’re sure that if you explain to the mosquitos that you took your vitamins, they’ll politely not bite you.) Or, you could actually avoid a yeasty summer full of bug bites by simply zapping as many of the dirty bastards as possible with big-ass electric bug lamps, dousing yourself and your yard in bug spray, and lighting up enough citronella candles to make a Catholic church jealous. 

We've put together a list of all of the components you’ll need to properly outfit your summer bug survival kit. And this isn’t just for the hardcore outdoors peeps, either—mosquitos and other summer bugs aren’t on Strava, and don’t care how many miles you hiked last weekend. They’re equal-opportunity assholes, and they’ll bite anyone they can get their grubby, disease-ridden proboscises on. So refresh your anti-bug arsenal with these warm weather must-haves, and may the world (and not insects) feast its eyes on your bare, bite-free skin this summer.

Generations of mosquitos will perish at your hand

You’ve had enough. We get it. Now is not the time for attempts at diplomacy—it’s time for action. Which, in your case, means electrocuting as many mosquitos and other bite-y bugs as humanly possible. Or, until they get the idea and tell their friends that you’re very much like Wu-Tang. These zappers and shockers lure bugs in, and quickly make sure their biting days are over. 

Flowtron

Flowtron Electronic Insect Killer, 1 Acre Coverage

Brison

Bug Zapper Indoor Plug-In

BLACK+DECKER

White Plug-In Indoor Table Lamp

Create a bug force field

An invisible shield to prevent bug bites is the only wall Rec Room supports. (Well, that and the Wall of Fame at the Hot Dog Palace.) While it’s a little more low-tech than your run-of-the-mill sci-fi force field, a backyard ground spray coupled with a rechargeable, scent-free repellent diffuser is tough to beat. 

Thermacell

Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller

Smack the trails, not your lower legs 

For on-the-go protection, Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Balm is the way to go. It’s convenient to apply and easy to store in a travel pouch or hiking backpack. Plus, everything from Murphy’s Natural is free of harsh chemicals and made with all-natural, bug-repelling oils. 

Murphy's Naturals

Mosquito Repellent Balm Stick

Murphy's Naturals

Mosquito Repellent Balm, 3-Pack

Some mood lighting 

The mood being, “fuck mosquitos.” Citronella candles aren’t as lame and smelly as they used to be. These ~aesthetic~ choices from Food52 and Anthropologie actually work, and they’re cool enough to earn a spot next to your NSYNC altar. 

Yield

Citronella Outdoor Candle

Anthropologie

Citronella Ancona Ceramic Candle

Don some literal anti-bug armor

Some of you probably have it worse than others. If you live in a swampy area, or one that often floods and leaves lots of puddles (mosquito-breeding heaven), you’ve probably tried most of these products already. Well, if you’re serious about not getting torn up this summer, you can always pop on the ol’ anti-bug armor set. We’re talking anti-bug mesh, socks, shirts, sweats, and much more. (We've tried these socks, and can confirm that they work shockingly well.) 

ExOfficio

BugsAway Tiburon Shirt

ExOfficio

BugsAway Della Jogger Pants

Lixada

Outdoor Ultralight Mesh Hooded Bug Jacket

Outdoor Obsession

Mens Insect Shield Crew Socks, 3-Pair Pack

Then, once you’re decked out in your anti-bug gear, spray everything down (clothing, tents, sleeping bags, dog beds, horse saddles) with some Ranger Ready Repellant for an extra layer of protection.

Ranger Ready

Ranger Ready Repellent

Saging is out

Luckily, burning all-natural, mosquito-repellent incense is in. These sticks and cones from Murphy’s Naturals are great for enjoying cool summer nights on the porch, patio, or fire escape without having to worry about any unwanted visits from our six-legged foes. They’re also DEET-free and full of natural oils. 

Murphy's Naturals

Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks

Murphy's Naturals

Mosquito Repellent Incense Cones

Drench yourself in bug spray

You’ve tried your best to parley with the winged enemy, but to no avail. And when it comes to matters of bug bites, there’s no shame in resorting to chemical warfare. C’est la guerre. Insect repellents come in a variety of formulas, ranging from the classic big-name brands to all-natural herbal topicals (that actually work).

OFF!

Deep Woods Insect Repellent

Repel

Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent

In case you forget any of the above

Some bug bites are unpreventable. That’s why they make soothing balms to slather all over your eaten-up skin. They’re all natural, and they work. What more could you ask for in a bite balm? Does anyone regularly ask for stuff in a bite balm? 

Murphy's Naturals

Insect Bite Relief Soothing Balm

Nature’s Willow

Bug Bite Balm

Just realizing we missed out on some “bug-out bag” jokes. Oh well, maybe next time. 


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