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Thread: Bugs!

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    Default Bugs!

    Hey everyone, I am starting my thru hike July 9th-10th, I have heard that the mosquitoes and especially the black flies are particularly bad at this time, does anyone have any advice on how to deal with them so I don't get torn up as I go thru the state? I have already purchased a bug net for my hammock, is there anything else I should invest in?

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    Black flies shouldn't be to bad by then. Right now black flies are moderately annoying, but that depends a lot on the specific location. A head net can be useful, but is too hot to hike in. Just hope your not allergic to them, some people swell up like a balloon. For an insignificant piece of protoplasm, they leave one heck of a welt. Black flies are out during the day, Mosquitoes are out at night, with some overlap in the early evening.
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    Noseeums are my worst problem---and no one every seems to mention them. Midges.

    Biting black flies rarely get a bite on me although gnats are terrible at times ergo the Headnet. I use the net all summer long and don't find it all that extra hot in the furnace heat, especially being that my whole body is a hot sweaty mess w/ or w/o the net.

    In my opinion and experience a good headnet is not too hot to hike in---heck I used it on my last trip climbing up Sugar Mt on the BMT---

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Black flies shouldn't be to bad by then. Right now black flies are moderately annoying, but that depends a lot on the specific location. A head net can be useful, but is too hot to hike in. Just hope your not allergic to them, some people swell up like a balloon. For an insignificant piece of protoplasm, they leave one heck of a welt. Black flies are out during the day, Mosquitoes are out at night, with some overlap in the early evening.
    On average, where would you say the black flies/mosquitoes are the worst? I would assume near bodies of water. Just wondering where a bug net would be the most useful due to the heat and in what places I should try and hammock with my net.

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    For what it's worth, when it comes to midges and black flies, both tend to ignore DEET but respond somewhat to picaridin. So, picking the right chemicals can also be helpful.

    I second the notion that, yeah, head nets are warmer than no headnets, but when the bugs are bad, what's a little extra heat compared to inhaling endless numbers of bugs every time you try and inhale and having the buggers flying into your eyes and ears?
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    Good to know, Tipi. Do you use any bug repellent for the noseeums? Just wondered if you have also found picaridin works for them. I recently bought my first bottles of picaridin, having been a lifelong DEET person. I've come to understand DEET can be hard on plastics/synthetic fabrics (of which most of us have a great deal), and I have also grown to hate the feeling of 100% DEET, as found in one particular product that is rather portable. When one is already hot and sweaty, the oily 100% DEET feels awful going on - and seems to work no better than the 25-35% or whatever Deep Woods Off! is.

    I noted that picaridin specifically says to avoid eyes and mouth - and sparingly on ears. That last bit is kind of unfortunate because ears seem to be among the bugs' favorite spots. As for eyes and mouth, although of course I don't apply on them, one may sweat into them, so I wonder if that's a significant concern.

    Last week's hike, rather warm and strenuous, and I forgot about my headnet (which was in my bag). Maybe I figured I'd overheat in it - there was no breeze. But I either should have put it on, or re-applied the DEET. I got bothered big time - many of then flying right into my eyes, where I had contact lenses that couldn't be handled with my DEET-ridden hands. Yeah, I know I should have washed them afterwards, but water was scarce. Yadda yadda.

    Anyway I think I may give picaridin a try on my next hike, relegating DEET to lawn & garden duties. Certainly the icky 100% stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Time Zone View Post
    . . .Anyway I think I may give picaridin a try on my next hike, relegating DEET to lawn & garden duties. Certainly the icky 100% stuff.
    Why use DEET at all? For what it's worth, DEET has been shown to be increasingly effective at increasing concentrations up to about 30% after which there is no significantly improved protection or protection duration. So, 100% DEET stinks more, is greasier, and eats plastics more than 30% DEET, but doesn't offer significantly improved protection.

    That being said, again, why use DEET at all. Picaridin works as well against mosquitoes and better against fly species like midges and black flies. Picaridin doesn't stink and doesn't melt plastics. I do think DEET lasts slightly longer than Picaridin, but not all that much and maybe not at all (I've never compared their duration of function side by side).
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    Why use DEET at all?
    No good reason. Inertia. It's what I grew up using, and didn't have any understanding of the relative effectiveness of picaridin. Nor, until about 5 yrs ago when I resumed hiking as a hobby, was it terribly relevant. I used Off! for the yard and that's all I really needed to know.

    I still don't know if DEET has any relative strengths (other than perhaps duration, as you mentioned). But I really had no understanding of the effect of DEET on synthetics until recently, nor would I have had reason to be concerned. Now that I have some gear, and know what DEET can do, I'm a little more circumspect about its use.

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    Last summer I really did an experiment with picaridin and took a bottle out with me for several trips. It just didn't have much effect on midges, and then I remembered using skin so soft years ago and switched but like most herbal mixes it didn't do a thing. Lemongrass and pennyroyal etc etc all sound cool and wonderful but often don't do a thing.

    So I bit the bullet and started using 30% deet and it's now part of my standard load.

    But really, I only need to use these kind of repellents in camp and not so much when I'm hiking---except for the headnet. And then there's big horseflies which attack when you're walking. Nasty little bastardos. Best repellent? A fast moving swatting ball cap.

    This thread reminds me of something I do all the time---bring citronella stick incense and burn in the tent vestibule when in camp. It creates a smoke smudge in the tent and bugs hate it. (Problem is, if you're not careful YOU WILL burn a hole in something valuable like a tent door or your thermarest.

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    I was wondering about incense. Is it only citronella that drives the bugs away? Or is that just the best of the lot? Thanks -

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Mouth View Post
    Hey everyone, I am starting my thru hike July 9th-10th, I have heard that the mosquitoes and especially the black flies are particularly bad at this time, does anyone have any advice on how to deal with them so I don't get torn up as I go thru the state? I have already purchased a bug net for my hammock, is there anything else I should invest in?
    The black flies and mosquitoes just started to be an annoyance this past weekend in the Katahdin area. A few weeks from now and the worst of it will be over for the black flies. If it continues to stay dry, the areas with standing water will dry-up and mosquitoes will die-back around the same time. Still, carrying some Picaridin is a good idea. You should be fine with the bug net at night.

    Don't forget to check yourself for ticks. Those are the bugs to really worry about.

  12. #12

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    I'm finding my floorless mid fly alone to be surprisingly effective and plays on the black fly/mosquito own instincts. With the door latched open, perimeter gap, and peak vent - it's only ~80% coverage, but that seems to keep ~same % of the fliers from even entering. Then of the ~20% do follow me in, it seems like ~80% shift their focus from nourishment (me) to survival/escape and bang along the walls up to my large peak vent/headhole/skylight where they exit. I now only setup my inner net tent for sleeping so I don't have remove boots, zip though doors, and have more space. A pryamid fly can also be set-up/take-down in about a minute, so might be worth longer lunch/rest breaks.

    I also carry some Picaridin, and use a headnet w/long pants/sleeves outside, but often prefer not to cover myself in chemicals or heat-trapping clothing... it's nice to have more options.

  13. #13

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    The problem with a floorless tent or tarp are the occasional camps infested with black carpenter ants. On my last trip I had to find a stealth camp off the BMT in a place called Tate Gap (now renamed Hate Gap). So I explored and found an old logging cut off the main trail which unfortunately was being used as a truck driveway and dirt bike motorcycle play zone. Bummer.

    Trip 190 (306)-L.jpg
    Here's my Carpenter Ant Camp---looks harmless enough but the little critters were a'swarmin'.

    Trip 190 (313)-L.jpg
    This show my stealth camp with the actual BMT--now road---on the right.

    Anyone who has backpacked and camped in the Southeast knows about carpenter ants. They only bite when roll on or pinched, otherwise if they control a campground and you find out later all your crap will be covered with the beasts---so a zipped up tent is awesome. They will even chew thru ziplocs like a mouse to get at food.

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    I agree with floorless shelters vs ground bugs/creepy crawlies, and that's why I always set up my inner net tent for sleeping (when I'm oblivious to the creepy crawlies) - then it's the equivalent of a traditional double-walled tent.

    However, while I'm awake, I now find I prefer fly & footprint only - ~95% flying bug barrier, more interior space, easier access to gear (no zipper doorways), lie down w/ boots on. Then in heavy rain - inner tent set-up/take-down while dry under cover of the fly, and the interior can be a giant vestibule for spacious cooking, a low camp chair (Qwikback), and even cat-hole latrines (#2 as the last step before packing-up/moving on ).

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    Quote Originally Posted by reppans View Post
    I'm finding my floorless mid fly alone to be surprisingly effective and plays on the black fly/mosquito own instincts. With the door latched open, perimeter gap, and peak vent - it's only ~80% coverage, but that seems to keep ~same % of the fliers from even entering. Then of the ~20% do follow me in, it seems like ~80% shift their focus from nourishment (me) to survival/escape and bang along the walls up to my large peak vent/headhole/skylight where they exit. I now only setup my inner net tent for sleeping so I don't have remove boots, zip though doors, and have more space. A pryamid fly can also be set-up/take-down in about a minute, so might be worth longer lunch/rest breaks.

    I also carry some Picaridin, and use a headnet w/long pants/sleeves outside, but often prefer not to cover myself in chemicals or heat-trapping clothing... it's nice to have more options.

    Well, black flies are not generally a problem at night because they "sleep" once it gets dark. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, are quite happy to fly at night, feeding on their victim. I have found that mosquitoes will "sleep" if the temperature drops down to about 50 degrees or colder. So, at this time of year there's a good chance that neither the black flies nor the mosquitoes will be bothersome once the temp drops at 1am or 2am. However, if you get a warm night, those skeeters can be brutal.

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    FWIW,since I started taking 2 apple cider vinegar capsules and a B complex vitamin daily the mosquitoes have no interest in me,not even here in Central Georgia in deep summer.Can't say about black flies as we don't have them here.I carry a small bottle of picardin based repellent but never use it.YMMV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Mouth View Post
    is there anything else I should invest in?
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    When the flies are bad, the first thing I do when arriving at camp is to build a small, smoky fire to drive out the swam which followed me into camp. Of course, that requires staying at designated sites with a proper fire ring.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    When the flies are bad, the first thing I do when arriving at camp is to build a small, smoky fire to drive out the swam which followed me into camp. Of course, that requires staying at designated sites with a proper fire ring.
    In the White Mountain National Forest, fires are permitted in most areas (outside of alpine zone) including most places within Wilderness areas.

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    Default Bugs!

    There are no poisonous snakes or spiders in Maine and most of new hampshire so floor less tent is OK. This past week I've camped in along Pennsylvania and all the way down to Washington DC. There were some funky spiders in my teepee...I was glad I had a mesh insert with a floor.

    Anyway, about the maine and new hampshire bugs... During the bug season wear long sleeves and long pants, also a sun hat is useful that covers your neck or a baseball cap with a bandana underneath that covers your neck...if it is hot you can soak the bandana with water to stay cool.

    Cut a branch (or use the baseball hat) as you hike to wave it around. This really helps if the bugs are really bad. I have tested it in many places, especially early July in wind river range or may and early June at Baxter State Park.

    In general if you keep moving the bugs will have a hard time to keep up with you. Take breaks on windy spots if available and otherwise don't rest for too long. It only takes a minute for them to find you.

    At the end of the day I would first quickly pitch my shelter, get in, kill all the bugs that got inside, rest and then think about starting a fire or just cook inside your vestibule and wait for the bugs to go away (in theory)

    Then start early in the morning before they get active again....

    running fresh water is where black flies breed, standing water is where mosquitoes breed. So I would pitch in dry and breezy areas (in theory...haha) and walk to get water.

    In theory, you could manage without deet this way.

    Ticks: will take several hours crawling before they attach so tick check mid day and after you pitch shelter/when you put on your sleeping clothes you should be all set. Long sleeves and tucking your pant legs into your socks in intensive areas should keep you safe.

    Godspeed


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    Last edited by T.S.Kobzol; 06-02-2018 at 22:42.
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