How did our ancestors handle biting flies and mosquitoes?

I live in N.E. Indiana. The deer flies and mosquitoes are in full force now. I often wonder how people dealt with them back in the day, before Deet and Citronella. Walking across the road and into the woods, I am instantly on the radar of hungry flies and 'skeeters. Clouds of mosquitoes and always a few very persistent, blood starved flies.
What did ancient people do?

They crushed various plants native to their area and rubbed them on their skin. Or they wore sprigs of plants they believed would repel insects. Sometimes they used smoke to keep them away.

Certain vegetation mixed with animal fat and smeared on skin and hair.

Plus, it’s possible that the changed land use that accompanied white settlement means there are more annoying bitey things than in the past. No idea whether this is in fact the case in NE Indiana, but it is certainly the case in some places.

My Grandma always had Bruton Snuff, and “spit cans” around. When we got bitten by a 'skeeter, she just clomped some tobacco spit on the wound. It worked, best as I can tell. (Still, pretty nasty.)

Totally explains some of the porn out there now-a-days.

Smoke repels insects. I’m pretty sure this is also how people invented the concept of smoking meat. They would burn wood around the meat to keep insects from getting to it, and eventually they realized that the smoke itself could cure the meat.

In Werner Herzog’s documentary Happy People, a Siberian trapper slow-cooks the resin out of birch bark, mixes it with oil, and rubs himself with it.

Maybe they were tougher. Sun baked skin. Dirt encrusted skin.
But I like the smoke idea, too.

I recall hearing years ago the scent of unwashed people was an insect repellent. Not just a few days but weeks or months of never being wet.

Northern Indiana, from east to west, is low-lying and pretty swampy/boggy by nature. If anything, human activity since the mid-20th Century have reduced the amount of biting bugs.

Allegedly, bear fat, and bear fat soap, worked as a bug repellent.

The bugs are also worse at different times of the day. Avoid being out and about during those times, sit by the fire during the bug-heavy times, and to some extent, you just put up with what you couldn’t change.

Ochre was/is commonly used as an insect repellant - people as diverse as the Himba, Eastern Woodlands Native Americans and Maori use/d it as body paint, and at least in the Namibian and New Zealand contexts, insect repelling is given as part of the rationale in addition to aesthetics. It’s not a stretch to assume the same for other users of ochre body paints.

This is analogous to the use of mud by other animals.

There is a lot of natural remedies to get rid of mosquitoes. Those insects can be scared off with the scent of basil, aloe, white tea, vanilla. Here is the article where all the methods of fighting mosquitoes are described, both chemical and natural. Hope it will come in handy.