Thursday, April 15, 2010

Keep black flies, mosquitoes and ankle biters away

With 30% DEET it even keeps ankle biters away
I'm often asked if bugs are a problem when fishing at Bow Narrows Camp on Red Lake.

We are, after all, way out in the bush and it only stands to reason that there would be bugs here.

But the truth is that compared to other wild places, the bugs at camp are seldom a problem.

The bug season goes like this: May and early June black flies are out; mid-June through August mosquitoes are out; July through August ankle biters (stable flies) are out; September, after the first frost, black flies come back, briefly.

Except for periods of hot, rainy weather, black flies and mosquitoes are only a bother in the early morning and late-evening. Once the sun is up they hide in the shade because they dehydrate easily. They keep away from the wind for the same reason.

Because Bow Narrows Camp is located at the end of a long peninsula, the wind sweeps down either side and keeps the bugs at bay.

We also keep the grass clipped short around the camp and this also prevents bugs from hanging around.

Likewise, out on the lake, all it takes to get away from mosquitoes and black flies is to stay in sunny or windy areas. It doesn't need to be a gale, just a small breeze will do the trick.

The bug that has caused the most grief in the past is the ankle biter fly. It's real name is the stable fly but since they only bite your ankles, the other name is quite appropriate.

In mid-summer a half dozen or so of these house fly-size critters will land in your boat and will ride along with you waiting for a chance to nip at your ankles. You can simply wear leather boots, but these are uncomfortable in hot weather.

After years of trying various remedies, we have finally found that Deep Woods Sportsmen Off with 30% DEET keeps these pests away. It is the one in the blue can, not green. (Green is Deep Woods but not the Sportsmen formula. It only has 25% DEET.)

Deep Woods Sportsmen OFF also works perfectly for black flies and mosquitoes but really, almost any spray with any level of DEET will work for them. Regular Off at 15% DEET, for instance, keeps them totally away.

Ankle biters, however, consider sprays with less than 30% DEET as condiments.

I would advise everybody coming fishing to Northern Ontario to bring a can of Deepwoods Sportsmen Off with them. One can is plenty for an individual for a week at camp.

We also have a supply for sale in our little store at the lodge.

Besides bug spray, another tip to pass along is not to wear dark-colored clothes.

Mosquitoes are absolutely attracted to black or dark blue clothing. I think they see it as shade.

I remember walking through the bush one time behind two people: one wearing a black t-shirt and the other a white t-shirt. The guy with the black t-shirt must have had 20 mosquitoes on his back while there were none on the white shirt.

Another time we were camping and had to take down a sheet of black plastic we were using as a cover over our kitchen area because the mosquitoes were horrendous. We replaced it with clear plastic and the bugs were immediately gone.

This summer promises to be exceptionally bug-free. There has been almost no precipitation this spring and that means the bush is tinder dry. It also means there is no moisture for things like black flies and mosquitoes to hatch in.

We've seen these conditions before and sometimes we have barely used insect repellant all season.

Bring some anyway, just in case.

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