Ahhh dreaded bug season is upon us again threatening to send us fleeing the Canadian wilderness like Usain Bolt at 100 meter race.
After being cooped up all winter us Canadians are just itching (pun intended) to get outside. Unfortunately doing so turns our bodies into a smorgasbord and playground for all those annoying insects. Trust me, there is no differentiating among black flies who will dine on thigh or breast, white and dark meat are all the same to them! And although the biting ones are irritating enough, there are those kamikaze mosquitos trained in a torture technique called ear buzzing all night, an insect form of waterboarding, ensuring to drive you crazier than Jack Nicholson’s character in the Shining. Oh and of course the ever patient deer fly that stalks you by the river while you swim and just as your head breaks the surface of the water, swoops down and takes a large bite! And we all know Canadian’s love Tim Horton’s – that includes those dopey yellow jackets who swarm Tim’s garbage cans like a junkie in a crack house. Oh the joy of Canadian spring and summer months!
Unless you live near farmland, where the pumping of pesticides may save you the pleasure of bug season, pretty much everywhere in Canada is swarmed with some annoying insect this time of year. Hell, you even see urban dwelling mosquitos, driving mini Volvo’s in our biggest cities.
Well short of staying inside all spring & summer long, how do we continue to enjoy our outdoor activities and prevent our bodies from becoming the main course at a rather large, annoying family gathering? Here are 6 tips so you can enjoy yourself this spring, bug free.
1. Don’t smell good. If you are camping or hunting that may not be hard to achieve since smelling bad comes naturally with those two activities. But really what I’m saying is, is that sometimes perfumes, scented soaps etc. attract the bloody bugs you want to piss off and leave you alone! So if you are going outdoors, lay low on cologne/perfume and body/hair sprays. Do NOT however stop wearing deodorant! Nobody wants to be around onion pits for the sake of attracting a few less bugs! Wear your deodorant – just minimize the other sweet sprays!
2. Wear light, baggy clothing. Hell if the activity does not require you to be in shorts/t-shirt then wear long sleeve shirts and cool pants. Remember, any exposed flesh is subject to a bug’s dinner menu and those little bastards will take advantage of it! Loose clothing helps keep the little buggers off your skin directly and hopefully should they attempt to bite through, the relaxed material will keep them from contacting your skin. Bugs are not attracted to light coloured clothing, which by the way allows you to see them so you can swat them away before they take a bite!
Wear a hat, or bug netting – same premise as loose clothing in that if they can’t reach you they can’t bite you. If you are playing tennis though, you may not want to sport a nylon mesh over a bare chest without risking looking like a tool. If you are out hiking in Algonquin park people won’t think your nuts for sporting netting from head to toe. They’ll think you’re a genius!
3. Wear bug repellant. I know it’s greasy, smells bad and probably not real healthy which is why I spray it on my clothes instead of my skin. This way I can repel without absorbing all the crap and chemicals! Better yet, smoke them out! Light a camp fire or burn those citronella candles, or coils. I’ll sit those burning contraptions all around my ankles just be careful not to set your socks on fire.
4. Plan activities during midday, or late night hours and in open spaces if possible. Although you will find them everywhere, most insects will stay in the shadows only venturing out in the sun when they find and follow a meal. Same holds true for forested areas vs open fields. Yeah there will be some bugs in a field but those few brave souls will have a billion cousins waiting in the pines! If you find yourself outdoors at dusk, dawn or in a shaded, forested area be forewarned! You are now in bug devouring territory.
5. Stay clear of areas where bugs congregate, like swampy ponds which are breeding grounds for mosquitos. Yellow jackets, which everyone thinks are bees (you know the black and yellow striped ones that squat Tim’s garbages in September) are actually a type of wasp. These are not bees! Honey bees are brown or amber in colour and are fatter! And unlike the humble honey bee, who’s taking a shit kicking with all of the pesticides sprayed on those fields above, those little bastard yellow jackets can sting you multiple times – so don’t get in a fight with them, you will lose. They not only nest high in those grey, papery hives, but sometimes nest in hollowed out areas of the ground. Be careful where you step!
6. At last, make sure all enclosures are sealed tight – tent awnings, screen doors etc. No use heading inside to find you let one of those kamikaze mosquitos into the house!
Finally if you do get bit – witch hazel and baking soda mixed with water are great natural remedies for the itch and sting! If you are allergic to bee stings don’t forget your EpiPen when on outdoor excursions – remember blue to the sky, orange to the thigh!
Enjoy your outdoor activities – now BUG OFF!
~ True North Nomad
How do you prevent yourself from being the feast while outdoors? And what natural remedy do you use for those nasty bug bites?
Acknowledgement – Thank you to Aly Photography for the supplemental picture!
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