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Mosquitoes and flies

Old 03-09-21, 11:28 AM
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gauvins
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Mosquitoes and flies

We may do a week-long tour in Northern Quebec (boreal forest), where mosquitoes and flies can be extremely abundant. How do you deal with insects (1) riding and (2) at your campsite. I remember one terrible stretch (somewhere across a bog, in Maine) which was no fun at all.

Based on what I read, thermacell backpacker is getting rave reviews. That should do at camp. I am also considering catnip oil when riding (research suggests it is 10 times more effective than DEET !). Other suggestions? Anyone riding with a head net?
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Old 03-09-21, 12:20 PM
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I have changed to repellent made with Picaridin, it is less likely to damage plastics or other equipment than Deet. I only buy the lotion, not the spray. Spray seems to always get sprayed somewhere other than where you want it.
https://sawyer.com/products/picaridin-insect-repellent/

But when the bugs are REALLY bad I dig out a tiny little bottle of Deet (100 percent) that I bought a couple decades ago.

I bought some Permethrin that can be used to treat clothing, last year I sprayed that on two of my jerseys, some hiking boot gaiters (more for tics than mosquitos), a few other things. Seems to help. Bike jerseys that are a knit fabric almost seem to attract mosquitos. I think this is illegal to buy in Canada, but am not sure. This reminds me that I think I need to re-spray those knit jerseys that I sprayed it on last year.
https://sawyer.com/products/permethr...ent-treatment/

Occasionally use a headnet when the bugs are really bad. I like to wear that with a wide brim hat, the brim holds it further away from my skin.

I have never carried mosquito netting pants or jacket on a bike trip, but I have used it in campsites on kayak and canoe trips. Often only a couple percent of the skin surface area is in contact with the netting pants or jacket, that is the only place that a mosquito can bite you. I wished I had brought this on my bike tour in Everglades and Big Cyprus, lots of bugs there.
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Old 03-09-21, 12:21 PM
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Worst stretch of mosquitoes, horseflies, biting flies, etc. I've encountered was in the West Siberian plain, between the Ural Mountains and Lake Baikal. Essentially five weeks where except for large cities, the insects were always present. In that regard different from Yukon Territory, Alaska and parts of outback Australia where I've been in localized places with bad mosquitoes but as continuous repeatedly day after day for multiple weeks.

1. During the day, riding there was typically some air movement so didn't have as much of an issue. Mostly needed to keep a watch out for horseflies that landed and would walk around a bit before biting. So keep a guard and keep swatting before they bite. I had a headnet but didn't wear during the day. Have cycled some with headnet in Australia but found it mostly annoying to do for too long.

2. Worst spots were once one stopped to camp. As shown below the regimen was to (a) don the rain gear to cover surfaces as much as possible (b) use a head net. Once we changed, we would as quickly as possible set up our tents.

We would then jump into the tents and as much as possible get any mosquitoes or flies that happened to get in while setting up. After that, the mosquitoes could cluster under the rainfly but we would be away from them. We pretty much stayed inside tents after that.

In the morning, it would be a reverse procedure. Get everything staged in the tent and put on the raingear and headnets. Jump out as quickly as possible to get the tent down and pack everything up.
Some places we camped it was bad enough, I would wait in going to the bathroom until a few kilometers down the road.

Still got some bites, but not as bad as it could be.

As far as DEET goes, I used it somewhat sparingly in Siberia. Mostly because we traveling for multiple weeks and I was wary of longer-term use. It did seem to help when dashed in local places like exposed hands.
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Old 03-09-21, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
We may do a week-long tour in Northern Quebec (boreal forest), where mosquitoes and flies can be extremely abundant. How do you deal with insects (1) riding and (2) at your campsite. I remember one terrible stretch (somewhere across a bog, in Maine) which was no fun at all.

Based on what I read, thermacell backpacker is getting rave reviews. That should do at camp. I am also considering catnip oil when riding (research suggests it is 10 times more effective than DEET !). Other suggestions? Anyone riding with a head net?
I spent a couple of summers working in the bush, in Northern Saskatchewan on the Canadian Shield, where there are more bugs per square mile than people on the earth.
The answer is DEET, DEET, DEET,
I don 't believe anything can be 10 times more effective than DEET. Deet works, its just unpleasant to use and don't drink it.

Headnets work, they just tend to be hot and make me claustrophobic. I have a bugshirt with a hood and face net I use on my property in BC, it works fine but it is hot and I haven't tried riding with it on.
I have a thermacell for sitting on the deck and it doesn't seem to work that great and last year it was impossible to get refills.

I have never had a problem with bugs when actually riding, as opposed to being stopped, but I can imagine that black flies that like to crawl behind your ears and down your collar and places like that, might be an issue.
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Old 03-09-21, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
Worst stretch of mosquitoes, horseflies, biting flies, etc. I've encountered was in the West Siberian plain, between the Ural Mountains and Lake Baikal. Essentially five weeks where except for large cities, the insects were always present. In that regard different from Yukon Territory, Alaska and parts of outback Australia where I've been in localized places with bad mosquitoes but as continuous repeatedly day after day for multiple weeks.

1. During the day, riding there was typically some air movement so didn't have as much of an issue. Mostly needed to keep a watch out for horseflies that landed and would walk around a bit before biting. So keep a guard and keep swatting before they bite. I had a headnet but didn't wear during the day. Have cycled some with headnet in Australia but found it mostly annoying to do for too long.

2. Worst spots were once one stopped to camp. As shown below the regimen was to (a) don the rain gear to cover surfaces as much as possible (b) use a head net. Once we changed, we would as quickly as possible set up our tents.

We would then jump into the tents and as much as possible get any mosquitoes or flies that happened to get in while setting up. After that, the mosquitoes could cluster under the rainfly but we would be away from them. We pretty much stayed inside tents after that.

In the morning, it would be a reverse procedure. Get everything staged in the tent and put on the raingear and headnets. Jump out as quickly as possible to get the tent down and pack everything up.
Some places we camped it was bad enough, I would wait in going to the bathroom until a few kilometers down the road.

Still got some bites, but not as bad as it could be.

As far as DEET goes, I used it somewhat sparingly in Siberia. Mostly because we traveling for multiple weeks and I was wary of longer-term use. It did seem to help when dashed in local places like exposed hands.
Much of northern Canada is like Siberia, so I can imagine what it was like. When I worked in the bush, we had one guy who used to take a can of Off and spray his neither regions before he did his business. I personally cannot recommend this procedure.
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Old 03-09-21, 12:49 PM
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Donít get DEET on your shorts and other synthetic clothes. Same for the foam of your helmet.
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Old 03-09-21, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Don’t get DEET on your shorts and other synthetic clothes. Same for the foam of your helmet.
Also be careful handling your phone and camera equipment.

When I was working, I had a flat tire on my truck miles back in the boonies. My radio would not reach town, and one of the lug nuts was "frozen" on. I just could not get it loose, even standing and jumping on the lug wrench did not work. In desperation, I took my bottle of military grade DEET and soaked the wheel's stud and lug nut with it. I'm not sure if it was the DEET, perseverance, or the big rock, or all three, that finally broke the lug nut loose. It would have been a long walk.
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Old 03-09-21, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
We may do a week-long tour in Northern Quebec (boreal forest), where mosquitoes and flies can be extremely abundant. How do you deal with insects (1) riding and (2) at your campsite. I remember one terrible stretch (somewhere across a bog, in Maine) which was no fun at all.

Based on what I read, thermacell backpacker is getting rave reviews. That should do at camp. I am also considering catnip oil when riding (research suggests it is 10 times more effective than DEET !). Other suggestions? Anyone riding with a head net?
May I suggest timing your trip either before the bugs get bad or after the worst of the season? I understand you can avoid them upto mid-May or after Labour Day.
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Old 03-09-21, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by bOsscO View Post
I understand you can avoid them upto mid-May or after Labour Day.
There are plenty plenty all summer long. Varies from mildly annoying to unbearable depending on the weather.
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Old 03-09-21, 02:34 PM
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Some other ideas if a head net isn't used.

I usually spray a wide brimmed hat and a rolled up bandana that I wear around the neck - sprayed side out, instead of putting repellent on my skin directly. The zone of spray seems to work, although Mevs experience may be more extreme than that could even handle
Also, double layer shirts and or pants of thicker material.
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Old 03-09-21, 02:45 PM
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Gauvins, we once went camping up near Tremblant area in June, and the black flies were terrible. I think I may have mentioned this to you before, but I suspect that anywhere where the water is going to be still running and still cold, black flies are going to be bad until it gets hotter later in the summer.
I have a compact head net that I use with my sun hat, but it does tend to be claustrophobic--but there are times that this is better than the alternative.

I still have one of those bug net shirts combined with an attached hood+mesh thing, but I just recall it being very stuffy.

I don't know, but from my canoe camping experiences when younger, I would be hesitant about biking during bad bug season--I guess it would really come down to it very possibly being like how Mev describes his days in Russia--but I guess it really does depend on the location.

In general, mosquitoes tend to get bad towards the end of the day and then when it starts to get dark, they let up. Personally, I guess because I had so many tough bug experiences growing up, I'd shy away from a bike trip where every time you stopped, you get bitten a lot.
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Old 03-09-21, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
We may do a week-long tour in Northern Quebec (boreal forest), where mosquitoes and flies can be extremely abundant. How do you deal with insects (1) riding and (2) at your campsite. I remember one terrible stretch (somewhere across a bog, in Maine) which was no fun at all.

Based on what I read, thermacell backpacker is getting rave reviews. That should do at camp. I am also considering catnip oil when riding (research suggests it is 10 times more effective than DEET !). Other suggestions? Anyone riding with a head net?
The Thermacell has some concerns. It uses allethrin which isn’t toxic to people but it can be toxic to fish, bees, and cats. Caution should be used with some thought to location when using it.

The catnip oil isn’t what you think it is. Just looking at the abstract, it’s not raw catnip oil. The catnip oil is hydrogenated which changes the chemical character of the oil. You can’t hydrogenate the oil without some really serious chemical equipment...pressure vessels, exotic catalysts, high temperatures, etc. That’s not something you can do at home. There may be a product in the future but it won’t be just catnip oil.


Edit: The paper linked to does not say that hydrogenated catnip oil is “10 times better” than DEET. It says that it is equivalent to DEET in repelling Ae. aegypti mosquitoes.
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Old 03-09-21, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post

The catnip oil isnít what you think it is. Just looking at the abstract, itís not raw catnip oil. The catnip oil is hydrogenated which changes the chemical character of the oil. You canít hydrogenate the oil without some really serious chemical equipment...pressure vessels, exotic catalysts, high temperatures, etc. Thatís not something you can do at home. There may be a product in the future but it wonít be just catnip oil.
Right, TBH not clear if this is a fluke or not. I'll probably try to dilute catnip essential oil and see if (a) there a fewer mozzies or (b) there are more cats buzzing around our heads
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Old 03-09-21, 05:32 PM
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My GF purchased and carries a full-body mosquito net..suit. She hasn't worn it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I'm hoping I receive the view with humor & not envy.
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Old 03-09-21, 07:32 PM
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well, it will be handy for any impromptu beehive visits, so there's that.
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Old 03-10-21, 07:39 AM
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Old 03-10-21, 08:35 AM
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The headnet is great just remember you're wearing it when you spit, drink or eat. I always wear thicker long sleeve cotton clothing, seems to deter them. Wear nylon/poly and they will get you.
Horseflies, ride fast, they love to eddy out behind you and go for your neck
Black flies, hate the bastards, they draw serious blood. I wait for their season to end.

I usually plan my outdoor adventures when insects are minimal, weather is good (enough) and crowds are low.
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Old 03-10-21, 08:58 AM
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I hit bug season in northern Minnesota on one trip, where the mosquito is the state bird. One farmer up there told me they killed a cow--then the big ones came and carried it away. (Sorry, old joke.)

As long as I was riding I was okay. When the sun was low I could see the shadow of the cloud behind me, and pastured horses were kicking and biting. I got real good at removing my helmet to let horse flies out. I tried riding with a net over the helmet once, but I needed the airflow more. Temps were in the 90s. I also got fast at donning the head net at stops. The head net was quite literally worth its weight in gold.

I wore long trousers and a long sleeve shirt all the time and I treated them (and socks) with permethrin. I used the head net at every stop. I used the smallest amount of DEET (in a solid stick--safer that way) on hands while camping. Ditto the warning on DEET with plastics--my wife got poisoned by it after she over-sprayed some on her hydration tube and it migrated into the water stream--nasty stuff.

Wearing long sleeves and trousers helped with sun protection as well. That's become a habit even where bugs aren't the main issue.
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Old 03-10-21, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
I hit bug season in northern Minnesota on one trip, where the mosquito is the state bird. One farmer up there told me they killed a cow--then the big ones came and carried it away. (Sorry, old joke.)

... and I treated them (and socks) with permethrin. ...
I grew up in Minnesota. The mosquitos that carried away the cow were probably the mosquitos that bit Paul Bunyan.

Thanks for mentioning socks, I forgot to mention socks when I mentioned Permethrin in my previous post. Anything that is knit is easy for mosquitos to bite through.

This is one of the smaller ones:

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Old 03-10-21, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
I wore long trousers and a long sleeve shirt all the time and I treated them (and socks) with permethrin. I use
1. is it something you have to do regularly (spraying permethrin on your clothes)? or something permanent, better done at the factory such as a GoreTex layer
2. does it damage (some) fabrics such as capilene (like DEET would)

[EDIT]

Info below is from the Canadian Government. My emphasis. Begs the question of where to find better suppliers.
  • When purchasing permethrin-treated clothing, look for the Health Canada Pest Control Product (PCP) number on the label. Always read and follow the label instructions. Labels for pest control products are also accessible by searching the online Pesticide Product Label Database.
  • Permethrin products in the form of liquids or sprays for consumers to treat their own clothing are not approved for use in Canada.

Last edited by gauvins; 03-10-21 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 03-10-21, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
1. is it something you have to do regularly (spraying permethrin on your clothes)? or something permanent, better done at the factory such as a GoreTex layer
2. does it damage (some) fabrics such as capilene (like DEET would)

[EDIT]

Info below is from the Canadian Government. My emphasis. Begs the question of where to find better suppliers.
  • When purchasing permethrin-treated clothing, look for the Health Canada Pest Control Product (PCP) number on the label. Always read and follow the label instructions. Labels for pest control products are also accessible by searching the online Pesticide Product Label Database.
  • Permethrin products in the form of liquids or sprays for consumers to treat their own clothing are not approved for use in Canada.
Permethrin on clothing needs to be renewed every 6 weeks or every 6 washings, whichever comes first. It works great. Picaridin is superior to DEET and doesn't damage plastic. Also works great. Just repeating the Tourist's post here, for effect. Headnets are very effective in camp. Just need a hat with a brim to keep the net away from your skin. I find it hard to remember to lift the net up when eating, though. Never could figure out why some folks think tarps are so great. Gimme shelter!

You don't need anything on the bike as you easily outrun insects, plus mosquitoes are attracted to CO2, so on the bike that's dispersed. But that does make stoves attract them, so mealtimes can be a bit plague-y.
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Old 03-10-21, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post

You don't need anything on the bike as you easily outrun insects
Until you are chugging up a steep hill on a loaded bike and ride through an infested space. My ex-GF and I got bites in MT when that very thing happened. We rode by a cattle ranch that had draining ditches along the road. When we got to the hotel we sam that her butt looked like the face of a teenage with a case of acne.
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Old 03-10-21, 02:53 PM
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The permethrin treatment for clothing lasts 6 weeks. Treat your stuff before you leave and you'll be good to go, and won't be bringing any verboten liquids into Canada.

On one of my trips to the northern Rockies, the mosquito situation was off the scale. It's usually not bad and on several trips we never needed any repellent. The "bad" year, I had picaridin and my companions had DEET. It quickly became apparent that the picaridin was working more effectively and we all switched to my supply. We literally applied the last of it a few hours before exiting the mountains. Although it did work well, the 8 hour advertised effective duration was a bit optimistic.

We also had a ThermaCell, but could not get the piezoelectric igniter to work. We've noticed the same thing with other igniters at altitude (10,000+ feet). The damn thing lit right up when we got down to Red Lodge at 5600 feet. The unit is mostly plastic and we were afraid to try getting a lighter flame into the innards. If you are not going up high it should work for you.

PS. Holy Mackerel, stay out of Siberia!!!!!!
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Old 03-10-21, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe View Post
The permethrin treatment for clothing lasts 6 weeks. Treat your stuff before you leave and you'll be good to go, and won't be bringing any verboten liquids into Canada.
Well, I live in Canada, so...

We can get it locally, although the approved uses are different forms of pest control. Among the warnings, it could read - avoid skin contact. (... ...)
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Old 03-10-21, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Well, I live in Canada, so...

We can get it locally, although the approved uses are different forms of pest control. Among the warnings, it could read - avoid skin contact. (... ...)
certainly not anything I would want near me and my skin.

I figure that you (Gauvins) should try to find some local knowledge of how the specific area is during a specific time, and then hopefully guess how it will be, as some years can have different bug situations depending on how hot/cold it is, how much snowmelt there is that year, rain etc

hope you can get some reliable info
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