What is your best advice on how to control and avoid insects

david d.david d.
edited March 19 in Survival 101
In particular we have had a mild winter in the south and I expect the ticks and mosquitoes to be brutal this summer.  Anyone have any advice on avoiding them, especially ticks.

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Answers

  • At least in the north...a cold winter with a blanket of snow/ice will preserve the tick population as opposed to a freeze, thaw, freeze scenario warmer winter that will kill them off — contrary to what most consider. Never worry about tick repellent, tucking, extra clothes, etc. Must remove clothes, separate from others and wash. Shower ASAP, inspect, inspect and inspect again the following day. Anything else is futile. 
  •      This answer may not be helpful in a practical way, but most insects that torment us are only around for a short time, so timing is big.  I hike yearly with a group of 15-year-old girls to a nearby mountain lake; two summers ago we were nearly carried away by little black flies that didn't bite, but they were intent on crawling into our eyes, nose, and ears.  It was so bad that we had to forgo the pleasant time around the campfire and retreat to our tents shortly after dinner.  When I went back the next week with my sisters, prepared with head nets, we didn't see a single one.
         It varies by region, but where I live, ticks are only around for a couple of weeks in early spring, and each variety of biting fly, gnat, and hornet seems to have a week or two when they peak during the hottest months of the year.
         I don't like winter hiking as much as summer, but the freedom from irritating bugs partly makes up for the snow slowing me down.
  • Kasey M.Kasey M. ✭✭✭
    Permethrin is excellent against ticks - read up about it though because it can be lethal to cats.... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permethrin

    I drink Apple Cider Vinegar before hiking because when you sweat it comes out your pores and is offensive to bugs. Bugs are also very attracted to sugar and if you consume a lot of sugar it comes out in your sweat and breath. Another reason why cutting sugar out of your diet is good for you!

    But - I do bring the highest deet content stuff too for my neck, ankles and bandana or hat because black flies in Maine are so horrific in May. I understand the aversion to deet but can it be worse than daily microwave use, or cell phones, or fast food, or the thousand other things mankind subjects themselves to? I don't know - but I do know I like a peaceful walk in the woods without black flies trying to invade every orifice of my body to suck my blood.

    Just my 2 cents!

    Best,

    Kasey Marsters
    foxtrickadventures.com
  • Mark E.Mark E.
    edited April 13
    Army research says over 30% DEET is much more toxic to us, little more effective against bugs and is more likely to damage plastics and synthetic fabrics. I once used a "Biter Fighter" non-powered mosquito and tick catcher which worked incredibly well. Someone is now selling a tiny butane powered one for backpackers. The CDC says the attractants are species specific, but none of the manufactures state what species they work on (or what species are biting where and when you're going), so it's a bit random. If I'm with complainers, I always light a mosquito coil to make them feel like something has been done so they will complain less (that's the only thing mosquito coils are good for).

    If you're in Tick country, read the CDC's website. Lyme disease can be devastating and it's easily prevented.
  • For mosquitoes, I try to be aware of the time of season, the location, the weather, the time of day, etc.  E.g. to go into a wetland forest area at dusk is asking to be swarmed by mosquitoes, and likely any repellent would be less effective. for most other times I use a deet-containing pron my skin but product, where I have seen them alight on my skin but not bite.  Also for summer evenings outside in the backyard or at the campsite, I light 3 mosquito coils arranged in a triangle outside the perimeter of the activity/seating area (then no matter what the wind direction, the pyrethrum smoke will kill the lingering mosquitoes in the area).  That's what I do and what works for me.
    Black Flies in May or June in Ontario are a plague and I don't have recommendations for it except clothing and window screens.  For Deer Flies in summer wear a protective hat and use spray, I guess.
  • Kasey M. said:
    Permethrin is excellent against ticks - read up about it though because it can be lethal to cats.... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permethrin

    I drink Apple Cider Vinegar before hiking because when you sweat it comes out your pores and is offensive to bugs. Bugs are also very attracted to sugar and if you consume a lot of sugar it comes out in your sweat and breath. Another reason why cutting sugar out of your diet is good for you!

    But - I do bring the highest deet content stuff too for my neck, ankles and bandana or hat because black flies in Maine are so horrific in May. I understand the aversion to deet but can it be worse than daily microwave use, or cell phones, or fast food, or the thousand other things mankind subjects themselves to? I don't know - but I do know I like a peaceful walk in the woods without black flies trying to invade every orifice of my body to suck my blood.

    Just my 2 cents!

    Best,

    Kasey Marsters
    foxtrickadventures.com

  • I totally agree with Deet, even on my face, and thanks, will try Apple Cider Vinegar.   Also, have found mega dose of B complex throughout mosquito season makes one abhorrent to those nasties!
  • When I went to Nicaragua, we used sulfur to keep ticks off. We would fill an old sock with sulfur powder, tie the open end, and pat down our clothes with it. Doesn’t smell great, but it’s non-toxic and effective. 
  • Personally, I don't think DEET repellent is worth it. Would rather not intentionally expose myself to it if I don't have to. 
  • Kasey M.Kasey M. ✭✭✭
    edited April 25
    Ryan - come to Maine in the middle of May and try to go fishing - you'll meet the infamous black fly aka 'Punky'. You'll be begging for a deet cocktail. haha!  ;)
  • i’m trail running in michigan and most often deal with mosquitos black flies and ticks. The number one way not to get bit is to wear clothes not expose any skin hats with nets are awesome! In the summer its impossible to wear clothes covering all skin its way too hot. Moving fast enough solves mosquito problem. For ticks I am careful not to leave trails. Try to make least contact as possible in disturbing tall grass, brush and branches is how they shake off and fall on you. Throw clothes in wash by themselves and shower right away checking head to toe. Black flies I wear headphones with music so i dont have to hear them buzz diving my head. Deet doesnt work on black flies and ticks. I found natural sprays (see blackberrycreeksoaps.com and bellades.com) made with essential oils that work well but have to reapply frequently. It works in that they dont bite but will still swarm and follow. Black flys are drawn to black and royal blue color clothes, movement and CO2. Also its true that they have hatching periods where there are swarms, then in between hatches there are none! Hey can someone figure these hatching periods out and put them in the local weather report or an app? I would pay good money for a bug report app! Just a thought!
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