Bug Season

6:47 p.m. on April 20, 2009 (EDT)
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As the time for bugs is starting where I hike, I was wondering what most people do this time of year? Just some DEET, or a cap with neting?

8:10 p.m. on April 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Caps with nets work but they can be annoying if also darn right hot. There's a woman up in Wilmington NY making some cool bug hats but military ones work and I have used both.

In the Adirondacks there are some local commerical products that work-which probably started as homebrews.

I don't use any deet.

I feel ignoring them and not waving your hands and arms works well enough FOR ME USUALLY [this better with black flies than mosquitoes] I don't mind a few bites but what I can tolerate might drive the next guy nuts-heck, maybe I'm nuts...but I know there have been times when I barely noticed bugs and other people were getting out the juice or going goofy.

8:12 p.m. on April 20, 2009 (EDT)
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God... I hate bug spray. I try to do long sleeves/pants, head nets, etc. I usually end up breaking down and DEETing myself before the trip's over. I just hate going to bed smelling like chemicals.

OTOH, I almost always DEET my pantlegs, boot tops, and socks to keep the ticks out.

8:59 p.m. on April 20, 2009 (EDT)
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Acclimatation has a lot to do with it. A few years ago i went for a hike in mosquito-infested Jasper in the spring. Coming back from a planting contract buzzing with black flies that actually drove the dogs mad, i didn't mind that much. I didn't use bug spray and slep under a tarp with no bug netting for 9 days and didn't mind that much. I don't know if i'll ever be able to do this again, ever!

This is only 2 seconds' worth of mosquitos, the time it took for the camera to focus. I put on a second pair of socks after that!

9:52 p.m. on April 20, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm one of those guys insects seem to zero in on, I change my diet before trips, and start taking larger doses of vitamin B which is suposed to help (I'm not sure) but they still find me.

I don't like spraying DEET directly on my skin, but I will if things get real bad.

I've found that soaking my clothing in Permethrin (a soak made just for this) works better than simply applying products that contain DEET. The Permethrin is most useful against ticks, chiggers, and black flies, but I find it works quite well against mosquitoes too.

Part of that may be due to the fact that I soak long pants and long sleeve shirts so that's where some of the protection comes in probably.

A Permethrin soak is good for several washes, with diminishing effect at some point.

I also use Sawyers repellent spray with great results, and have recently started using Ultrathon after a recommendation here on Trailspace. Both products are micro-encapsulated (time release) and work much longer than other repellents I've tried.

One sure fire way to get some relief is to run, mosquitoes can only fly 6 - 7 mph. Do you think this is where trail running originated?

10:05 p.m. on April 20, 2009 (EDT)
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i've worked in the woods around klamath falls oregon, where the offical county bird is the mosquito. i was lucky enough to find out that a style of wrangler western shirts called brush poppers are pretty much impervious to mosquitoes. they can't seem to penetrate the fabric. it is a very tight weave with an almost water resistant coating on the inside. it is quite enjoyable to watch them trying to penetrate the shirt and not being able to.

another thing i found was that anhydrous lanolin applied to any open skin will keep mosquitoes or flies from even landing. anhydrous means that they have taken the water out and boy is this stuff sticky. i buy it in 1 pound tubs from the local pharmacy. i discovered with my horses that when i put anhydrous lanolin on any cuts no flies would even land on them for the whole day. the stuff is so sticky that just before they land they fly off. you kind of have to get used to having something that sticky on your skin but it does seem to work as well as deet. it is also probably the longest lasting worst tasting lip balm that you will ever use. you have to use it straight for a fly, mosquito barrier. if you mix with anything else it really looses its effectiveness.

11:44 a.m. on April 21, 2009 (EDT)
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Having spent time in Alaska (mosquitoes there have crossbred with B29s, but carry no diseases), Mississippi (mosquitoes there carry equine encephalitis, a nasty way to die), New England (black flies, noseeums, mosquitoes, but they don't carry diseases), the Sierra (no diseases, but the small mosquitoes are overwhelming in number and like to land in food and drink just before you put them in your mouth), California lowlands (mosquitoes carry various diseases like West Nile virus, plus we have ticks with Lyme disease), and Africa (various insects, including mosquitoes, that carry everything from malaria and yellow fever to all sorts of other incredibly painful and deadly diseases), I have experimented with all sorts of things.

For me, I find that "natural" repellents (and SkinSoSoft) keep the beasts at bay for no more than 30 seconds. Most DEET products last about 10 minutes, with 100% DEET lasting 30 minutes (regardless of what the claims are). But the time-release forms of DEET (Ultrathon, Sawyers, a few others) work for 6 to 8 hours (the containers and ads claim "up to 12 hours", but much shorter for me). Soaking clothes in permethrin works well, but still leaves skin exposed, so the time-release DEET goes there. For Africa, we got Ex-Officio's BuzzOff shirts (here is a photo of us at the hippo pool from my Africa report here on Trailspace, wearing the BuzzOff shirts)

There is a fairly new product, picaridin, which is registered with the EPA , and is supposed to be nearly as effective as 100% DEET without most of the problems (I have no experience with it so have no comment on its effectiveness for me personally).

In Africa, we slept under netting when in mosquito territory. This works to some extent, except that the critters get inside while you are climbing in and out, and it is hard to be sure that you have the edges tucked in all night when you are tossing and turning.

As for diet, I have found that if I do not cut down on my diet which is high in fresh fruits, especially soft fruits like bananas, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, and dried fruits as well (we have lots of fruit trees at our house), the mosquitoes seem to be much attracted to me. Cutting out the soft fruits a week before going into mosquito country helps a bit, as does ramping up on garlic and onions - but only a little bit. In Africa, a large part of the diet includes bananas and other fruits.

Different people seem to attract more or less, even eating the same diet. Barb, for example, seems to be a major attractant (well, she is very sweet ;) ). Me not quite as much, and some friends seem to repel the beasts, sending them my way. 2 weeks on the trail with no change of clothes and lots of hot sweaty days doesn't seem to have any effect one way or the other, as far as the black flies, noseeums, and mosquitoes are concerned (hiking companions are a different matter, as are the tourists when we get back and head for a restaurant for a "real meal".

12:00 p.m. on April 21, 2009 (EDT)
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I agree with Bill, most of the planters in Quebec and Ontario use a cream called Watkins, it's the only thing that works more than 1/2 hour, and it doesn't smell as bad a other products.

Microfiber ripstop windbreakers are good too, except in nortern Saskatchewan:the skeeters are so big they can get through. Actually, some of them are soooo they have name tags on them. Same goes for horse flies.

9:36 a.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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I would suggest spraying/soaking your clothing with Duranon. While this product is not to be applies to skin, it works wonders on keeping just about any biting insect at bay. Long lasting and will work after washing. A good first defense for ticks and chiggers/red bugs

9:51 a.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Duranon is permethrin based, I believe. There's also the Sawyer permethrin products. Spraying them on clothing items works pretty well. I have a sea to summit headnet to go over my hat and use permethrin on pant legs, gaiters, hammock, and hammock straps. It stays in the fabric for six washings if not longer. I tend to rash and must be allergic to something in the permethrin so will apply.

11:21 a.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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I find that the wash-in, soak permethrin lasts longer than the spray type. Ex Officio's Buzz-Off clothing seems to last much longer (it's more expensive, too!), maybe because it is thoroughly impregnated into the fibers and fabric in the manufacturing process. My shirt is now several years old and still repels the mosquitoes.

NotQuite, there is a comment on the EPA website that some people are allergic to permethrin.

Barb and I also use headnets, but find them to feel a bit claustrophobic and to block breathing a bit. Plus, when the mosquitoes decide to swarm, the cloud of bugs is still a bit annoying, even if they can't get through to the skin.

8:28 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Bill;

I was just fixing to ask you about your opinion of the Buzz Off shirts, I use the Ex Officio Air Strip shirt in hot weather as well as Columbia's Fishing shirts.

I guess you've already answered my question.

Okay second question, I have found the Ex Officio Air Strip shirts to be quite large for the size on the label. What has been your experience. I'm curious because I got mine on discount (Sierra Trading Post) and I'm wondering if there was an oops factor (sizing) involved in the shirts I ordered. The smalls were like XL's

1:04 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Odd. My Ex Officio Air Strip XXL seems smaller then most companies XXL's the arm length is lacking.

3:06 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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NotQuite, there is a comment on the EPA website that some people are allergic to permethrin.

Barb and I also use headnets, but find them to feel a bit claustrophobic and to block breathing a bit. Plus, when the mosquitoes decide to swarm, the cloud of bugs is still a bit annoying, even if they can't get through to the skin.

I'd rather have the rash from permethrin than the one from embedded ticks. One got me in an embarrassing area while I was sleeping - the doctor was smirking at my helplessness at getting it out but finally resorted to a scalpel himself. Tweezers only work if you have someone else to hold them; I can't see that well and it was a very awkward spot to reach to begin with, so only ended up tearing the tick to pieces. And then I had to take doxycycline for two weeks - it made me ill as well.

I didn't finish the sentence above - I apply then wash the clothing once to reduce the concentration. It's also been suggested that I may actually be allergic to something other than the permethrin in the solution.

I spray permethrin on the bugnet of my hammock as well. No skin contact with me and it means the swarms don't land and hang around buzzing.

3:28 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Doxycycline made you sick? That's pretty rare. Sounds like you had a whole rash of bad luck with this encounter (pardon the pun).

10:25 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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For what it's worth, and may not be any help at all, I am sensitive to insect bites, poison ivy, etc. I tend to get rashes a little faster than the next guy, and I have found that for me, using baby powder or Gold Bond powder really helps in summer. This may help block the absorption of irritating substances into the skin I think.

Anyhow, it seems to work for me.

12:53 p.m. on April 24, 2009 (EDT)
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For our Africa trip, we chose doxycycline for the antimalerial medicine. I found that it upset my digestive system, plus the side effect (that is on the label) of increased sensitivity to sunlight resulted in getting a badly sunburned face (especially nose) on summit day (nooo, not on the ascent between midnight and dawn, it was on the descent all the way from the summit to Mweka Camp, some 13 hours in the high altitude sun), despite using SPF80 sunblock and reapplying frequently. My PCP (Primary Care Physician), who is also an avid outdoor type who we see frequently when backcountry skiing, says this is a very common side effect.

But speaking of ticks, I spent yesterday with out professional forester wandering through the redwoods and the hardwood and brush area marking environmentally sensitive areas in preparation for our revised timber management plan (with consultation with CalFire and the state biologist). At one point our forester asked me if I had picked up any ticks, and noted that he felt something crawling around. I had not, but as I was driving home, I felt a sharp pain in a sensitive spot (not as sensitive a spot as NotQuiteThere's, I don't believe). When I got home, I stripped and there he/she/it was, tiny little black bugger, head bored into my flesh, legs wiggling in the air. I got the tweezers and removed it/her/him, but unfortunately lost the critter before I could find a container to take it to Urgent Care for identification (we do have Lymies here, though pretty rare in the Peninsula). I have never had a tick bite feel so painful. Hopefully it wasn't a Lymie (it was a deer tick, though, the carrier kind). But I am re-reading the section of Auerbach's book and will be watching for the telltale signs. I wasn't using any special precautions, since there are no ticks in the redwoods (famous last words, since I forgot we had to mark the marshland and some class 2 and 3 streams with lots of sedge around, prime tick habitat). Not supposed to be any poison oak in the redwoods, either, but there was along one of the streams.

12:59 p.m. on April 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Trout,

STP sells seconds and overstock, not new gear. So you might have gotten a mislabelled second. However, ours are a little on the generous size (not by as much as a full size step, though). Barb's is a women's, which normally have shorter sleeves than men's, and is slightly generous in sleeve length, as you can tell by the photo above.

5:34 p.m. on April 24, 2009 (EDT)
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I have a few shirts & paints that are Ex Officio's brand with Buzz-Off protection and they seem to work pretty well as long as there isn't enough bugs to carry you away. If it gets that bad I use a little and I mean a little deet (I hate the feel and smell of that stuff but it works) But I normally eat a lot of garlic and I regularly take vitamins and when I get ready for a trip I double up on them.

For thouse of you interested in the Ex Officio clothing I have found a lot of deals on them at Sierra Trading Post.

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/

Years ago I use to have Adirondack Black Fly Dope and it was phenomenal the cloud may follow you but they wont land on you. I haven't seen in years nor have I really looked for it it also worked for misquotes.

6:03 p.m. on April 24, 2009 (EDT)
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It is my understanding that removal of ticks within a 8 - 10 hour time frame makes transmission of lyme disease unlikely. I would like to see some recent studies on the subject. If I find something credible I'll post it.

A real study I mean, not something from wikipedia or backpacker and such.

6:15 p.m. on April 24, 2009 (EDT)
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Part of the trouble with sleeping well in the wilderness - if I had been in a tent instead of a hammock I would have been awake when my embarrassing little parasite bit me, and gotten him out right then instead of sleeping the night through, hiking out to the car, driving home and finding him in the shower 10-14 hours later.

I now use permethrin and gaiters, and do nightly tick checks before going to sleep. DEET was a complete failure for me.

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