How to keep bugs out while car camping?

Keeping bugs out of your car while camping shouldn’t be too complicated. Simple measures such as using bug spray are sometimes efficient. But these methods have limited success compared to solutions such as installing window screens.

Bugs make their way into camping cars through open windows or open doors. Some bugs are attracted by light while others are attracted by the smell of food inside the car. Bugs and insects that make their way inside a car while camping includes the following.

  • Fleas
  • Gnats
  • Mosquitoes
  • Spiders
  • Chiggers
  • Ticks

Few methods are truly as good as a physical barrier for keeping bugs away.

Here are the most common solutions to enjoy bug-free comfortable in-car sleeping while camping.

7 Best Car Camping Tips to Keep Bugs Away

1. Keep light sources away from the car

Lights attract bugs and flies. You need to ensure you keep all lights off while around the car. The car’s lights as well as other interior light sources such as laptops, phones, and tablets might need to be switched off in the evening as they attract bugs.

2. Install car camping window screens

Car camping window screens are the ideal physical barrier that keeps bugs and insects out of the vehicle. While other methods can work, this is the only true method of keeping all bugs out.

car camping window covers

What are the benefits of installing car camping window screens?

There are more benefits than drawbacks to using car camping window screens. They aren’t complicated to install and they are also some of the best when it comes to real results.

  • No more bugs

Almost all car camping window screens keep all bugs out. Made from mesh, nylon, cotton, elastane, or other soft materials, car window screens are an efficient barrier against all types of bugs and they allow you to leave the windows of your car down.

suv camping window covers
  • Better privacy

Bug car window screens add privacy to your camper or camping car. You will enjoy more privacy inside the car since these window screens are hard to see through.

  • Plenty of fresh air

Fresh air easily makes its way inside of the car when using car window screens. You don’t have to keep car windows up anymore and you can enjoy a cool night sleeping in the summer when cars can be too hot to sleep in.

How to install car camping window screens?

Installing car camping window screens is easy. These go over the frame of your car’s door and they stay in place given they’re made from elastic materials.

Car camping window screens allow you to put the window up or down without removing the window screen.

Some car camping window screens come with tightening shades. You install them by pulling them over the top of the window frame and then pulling them tight to fix them at the bottom, typically by an elastic material.

3. Use bug spray

Bug spraying the perimeter of the car can be one of the methods that keep bugs out. This solution might need multiple applications. It’s recommended to spray at least once around the car for every day you spend camping.

You can spray the car interior with bug spray. However, you then need to open all windows for good air circulation as this is going to prevent inhaling potentially toxic bug spray.

Alternatively, you can spray the car’s exterior. Doors and car panels next to windows are the most important areas to spray.

To choose the bug spray that suit your needs, check out this.

4. Park away from water

Bugs and insects are attracted to still water. It’s best to stay clear from all water sources as they’re known as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Since some bugs eat flies and mosquitoes they’re also attracted to these locations.

Camping cars can be parked away from ponds, lakes, and marshes. Ideally, you’ll find a place that is further from water so that you can enjoy bug-free sleeping.

Water sources that attract bugs can also be man-made. This is why it’s also recommended to park away from pools, gazebos, and other water sources which serve as an ideal spot for insects to lay eggs in.

5. Use bug and insect candles

Bug camping candles work. While they’re only efficient in small areas, they can be grouped around the camp or around the car so that bugs are kept away.

Many bug and insect candles burn essential oils such as mint, lavender, and eucalyptus. These essential oils are known bug deterrents.

6. Leave food outside of the car

Food attracts many types of bugs and spiders that bugs eat. It’s best to store food away from the car, preferably upon a tree where insects and other animals can’t reach it.

One way to store food inside the car is to use camping coolers. Sealed coolers ensure the smell of food doesn’t go out of the cooler. Otherwise, the food needs to be stored away from the car, especially when sleeping in the car.

7. Avoid parking the car in dense vegetation

Dense vegetation tends to attract multiple bugs and insects. Bugs are known to replicate quickly in vegetation where they find food and shelter.

Dense vegetation includes areas with many shrubs and trees. Parking the car in open areas with little vegetation is generally safer when it comes to staying away from bugs.

For additional tips on how to repel mosquitoes while camping, see my article on repelling mosquitoes in the wild.


You can keep bugs out of your car while camping by using one or multiple bug-deterring methods. This includes storing food away from the car, switching off all lights, using camping bug and insect candles, as well as installing car camping window screens.

Car camping window screens can be used in combination with other bug-deterrent methods. For example, you can still spray the exterior of the car with bug spray to keep all bugs away and to prevent them from making their way inside of the car when you open a door to get out.

Car camping window screens can be small or large. The typical car camping window screen goes over the windows of your car’s doors. Larger car camping window screens go over the trunk. These are ideal for those sleeping on car camping mattresses or those using sleeping bags to sleep in the car.