Best Bug Repellent For The Lake

Best Bug Repellent for Vacations at the Lake

Biting bugs can quickly spoil your day or evening at the lake! The common biting bugs will vary depending on the location and time of year. We will describe the main culprits and then recommend the best bug repellent to keep these critters away and allow you to enjoy your time by the lake.

The most common biting bugs at the lake are:


Mosquitoes are widespread and found near almost all bodies of water, including lakes. They are most active during dawn and dusk and can be bothersome and potentially transmit diseases. Most people are allergic to mosquito bites while others will get small itchy bumps on their skin.

Black flies:

Black flies are common around lakes, especially in areas with fast-flowing water such as where rivers enter or near dam walls. They can be particularly annoying during the spring and early summer months. Black flies bites typically leave behind small, raised, red, itchy bumps on the skin. The severity of the reaction to black fly bites can vary from person to person.

Horse flies and Deer flies:

These large flies are often active around lakes and can deliver painful bites, especially on sunny days. Horse flies create an open wound that can make you susceptible to infections. 

Ceratopogonidae (No-see-ums):

These tiny biting midges can be challenging to spot and most prevalent in the evenings. They can cause itchy bites.


Ticks are generally found in wooded  or grassland areas near lakes and can latch onto people and pets, potentially transmitting diseases like Lyme disease. Take special precautions to removing ticks.


Chiggers are tiny mites found in grassy and brushy areas near lakes. Their bites can cause intense itching. Chiggers are most common in summer months and warmer temperatures

Sandflies (Phlebotomine flies):

Sandflies are a common and annoying fly, found by lakes and other bodies of water. An issue bite will cause a rather intense sting. Often followed by a large lump.

Best Bug Repellents For The Lake

There are severals ways to protect from biting inspects. Clothes that cover the skin is a good start to protect the majority of your body. Also try and stay away from still bodies of water around dawn and dusk. However these options are not always possible and therefore we must rely on bug repellent. We suggest an EPA-approved insect repellent and also generally avoid DEET insect sprays. We have included 1 DEET spray as it is an extremely popular insect repellent. We prefer the insect repellent made of more natural insect deterrents. 


Recommendation #1 – Insect Repellent Spray

All Terrain Herbal Armor Bug Repellent

Best Natural Insect Repellent


  • Effective and Safe
  • This repelling oil-based formula is DEET-free and GMO-free; good for sensitive skin. Use Herbal Armor DEET-Free Natural Insect Repellent to keep bugs away & enjoy the outdoors, naturally.
  • Doesn’t spoil clothes or camping gear.
  • Herbal Armor is environmentally friendly & non-irritating to skin; perfect for active families & travelers.
  • Started by an outdoor enthusiast
  • Using natural ingredients
  • All Terrain: We are committed to providing safe & effective, environmentally-friendly, cruelty-free skin care protection products to help you & your family live active, healthy lives.

What we liked about the Herbal Armor

This is our number one rated insect repellent. Let me tell you why!

First up, it is effective at repelling a range of insects including mosquitoes, ticks and flies. It is made of natural ingredients and is DEET free. It is very easy to apply with the spray. Additionally, the natural ingredients provide a fresh and pleasant smell (unlike some other bug repellents). 

Other lake and outdoor folks must share a similar view of this product as it receives a high star rating on Amazon.

Recommendation #2 – Insect Repellent Lotion

Sawyer Pricaridin Insect Repellent

Best DEET Free Insect Repellent


  • Safe for use on the whole family, long-lasting insect and tick repellent lotion deters a wide variety of pests — up to 14 hours against mosquitoes and ticks and up to 8 hours against flies, gnats, and chiggers
  • Fragrance-free topical insect repellent with 20% Picaridin — more effective at repelling biting flies than DEET; repels disease-spreading ticks (Lyme, tick-borne encephalitis) and mosquitoes (West Nile, Dengue, and Zika viruses), chiggers, and more
  • Very comfortable to wear on your skin, it’s ideal for all your outdoor adventures, from activities at the lake, camping, backpacking, hunting, and fishing to backyard BBQs, sporting events, days at the park, and more
  • Non-greasy; dries quickly and won’t damage plastics or synthetic coatings — safe for use on clothing, backpacks, watches, sunglasses, fishing line, firearm finishes, and more
  • Top rated bug repellent by WireCutter/New York Times (May, 2020); maximize protection by pairing with Sawyer Permethrin tick and insect repellent spray for clothing and gear.

What we liked about the Sawyer Pricaridin Insect Repellent

This is a comfortable lotion to apply to your skin. It is fragrant free which means no unnecessary ingredients. It is also DEET free which is important to us.

Best of all, this lotion is a one-stop solution to a range of biting bugs. It is very effective against mosquitos, ticks, flies and chiggers.

This is always packed in our car or backpack when we head down to our favourite lake spots. 

Like most insect repellents, keep this away from your eyes.

Over 13,000 Amazon reviews at over 4.6 stars. This product is a winner!

Recommendation #3- Bug Repellent Clothing and Gear Spray

Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent for Clothing, Gear and Tents

Best Bug Repellent Spray


  • Add a layer of protection to your clothing and gear 
  • Effective against more than 55 kinds of insects — from disease-spreading ticks (Lyme disease) and mosquitoes (West Nile and Zika viruses) to chiggers, spiders, mites, and more
  • Permethrin spray bonds to fabric fibers for up to 6 weeks or through 6 washings (whichever comes first) and won’t stain or damage clothing, fabrics, plastics, finished surfaces, or outdoor gear; odorless after drying
  • Reduce likelihood of a tick bite by 73.6 times by treating shoes and socks with Permethrin (University of Rhode Island study – 2017)
  • 24-ounce trigger spray bottle treats five complete outfits (updated EPA dosage is 4.5 ounces per outfit consisting of shirt, pants, and socks)

What we liked about the Sawyer Premethrin Insect Repellent Spray

When the bugs are out thick and fast, you may need to add a level of bug repellent protection to your clothes and gears. This spray will do the job!

I find this spray most useful on warm nights when I am wearing light and thin clothing that insects can bite and penetrate through. Spraying this long lasting clothing bug repellent on my clothes keeps the bugs away and me a happy camper!

This is another highly rated product with over 23,000 4.6 star Amazon reviews! 

Recommendation #4 – Insect Repellent Aerosol Spray

OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent Aerosol, Dry, Non-Greasy Formula, Bug Repellent Spray with Long Lasting Protection

Best Insect Repellent Spray For The Lake


  • DEET mosquito repellent formulated with 25% DEET
  • Repels mosquitoes that may carry the Zika, Dengue, or West Nile viruses
  • Long-lasting protection from mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, gnats and chiggers
  • Tick repellent that protects against ticks that may carry Lyme disease
  • Powder-dry insect repelling formula – not oily or greasy
  • Twin pack 4 ounce aerosol

What we liked about the OFF! Deep Woods

This is a very convenient insect repellent. It is what many folks are used to when it comes to bug repellent. You simply spray it on! It is easy to re-apply.

I personally try to avoid DEET products. However they are very effective in tropical conditions when the bugs are unbearable.

This is however the MOST POPULAR insect repellent on Amazon with over 30,000 4.6 star reviews! That is amazing really!

Recommendation #5 – Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

Cliganic 10 Pack Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

Best Mosquito Bands


  • Made with Essential Oils
  • 10 Individually Wrapped Bracelets
  • Keep it Fresh – Each bracelet comes in a resealable bag
  • Suitable of Kids & Adults – When used as directed
  • One Size Fits All – Fully Adjustable
    Suitable for Indoor & Outdoor
  • Cruelty-Free and Vegan
  • Amazon Best Seller

What we liked about the Cliganic Mosquito Bands:

These bands are a good alternative if you don’t like sprays and lotions. They are mostly used for Mosquitos. However we find that they also keep flies away as well.

These are DEET free and they are an Amazon best seller with over 18,000 4+ star reviews!

Conclusion On The Best Bug Repellents

We are know that bugs can be a real pain when trying to enjoy our great outdoors.

Luckily, there are a great range of insect repellents to choice from. Sprays, lotions and bands are some of the options. 

Our recommendations are what we see as the best insect repellents products on the market. However there are quite a number of other products. I am sure you will find the something that will allow you to stay outdoors longer.

Always remember that insect repellent is only one aspect of keeping yourself free from bug bites. You should also consider appropriate clothes and even gloves.