While we are out in the wild it's good practice to keep a fire up to hold back several kinds of dangerous animals, isn't it? I wonder if there are any (for humans dangerous) creatures out there which are attracted to fire/light?

One might want to know in which regions he should avoid setting up a hell of a campfire.

  • 7
    I am playing around with some statistics on murder and assaults in the Great Outdoors, and I'm beginning to think the most danger is from people, who will be attracted by a campfire.
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 23:21
  • 5
    Teenagers. They'll walk up to your campfire and ask if you're getting service.
    – user2169
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 1:11

2 Answers 2


Two parts to this answer: First, I am playing around with some statistics on assaults and murders in the US National Parks, and I am coming to the conclusion that the most dangerous animal in the outdoors is homo sapiens, who will be attracted by your fire.

Second, maybe 20 years ago I read a speculation by a respected anthropologist, the gist of which was that fire was a necessary precursor to whatever the precursor of speech was. (Fire appeared maybe 700,000 years ago, and speech in the modern sense maybe 50,000 years ago, with large error bars on both.) His point -- it may have been Leakey, but I can't remember -- was that if you are sitting in the dark, you are quiet, because you are listening -- listening for the approach of something that will eat you, literally. Fire kept these animals away and enabled communal jabber.

On this second point, remember the scene in 2001, A Space Odyssey, where the anthropoids are sitting huddled together at night, scared, and listening, with their eyes darting in all directions. That scene would have been very different if they had had a fire.

The two parts of this answer may seem contradictory. If animals are plentiful and enemy homo scarce, then the fire is a deterrent. If animals are scarce and enemy homo plentiful, then the fire is not wise.


Though not necessarily attracted to fire, I found several anecdotal references to bears simply ignoring camp fires and wandering into camps. Other accounts differ on the effectiveness. It sounds like animals are more scared by smoke than just fire, but I can't really find a consensus.

It appears the only animals attracted by fire are insects that are attracted to light.

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