You’ve probably heard of buffalo gnats if you’ve ever spent any significant amount of time in the woods that surround the Great Lakes, particularly those that are located to the north of the lakes. They are called black flies, and you can find them in a wide variety of forests all over the world, including those in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ontario, and Manitoba. In point of fact, North America is home to around 255 unique species, and these species may be found throughout the majority of the United States. However, just a handful of these species are problematic, and by “problematic,” we mean that they have the potential to drive you completely insane.
The female buffalo gnat needs your blood to nourish her eggs, and the best method for her to acquire it is to bite you around the hairline, where the carbon dioxide that you breath attracts them. It is common practise for a person to not realise they have been bitten until they get a tiny itching, and when they touch it, they discover a small amount of blood on their finger. This is a warning that you will be experiencing severe itching in a few hours, and depending on how susceptible you are, you may also experience swelling, headaches, and fever in addition to these symptoms.
In most years, the season for black flies lasts from the beginning of spring through the first month or two of summer. If you go hiking or camping in the woods during this time period, you should be aware that black flies are an inevitable risk. Even if there is minimal evidence that they transmit illness, you still need a technique to keep them away if you don’t want to spend two or three days in terrible agony. There is a large number of options, but only few of them are effective.
Reach for the DEET
You wouldn’t think that an insect repellent with a name like N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) would be completely risk-free, would you? In point of fact, the general agreement is that it is safe, according to reports in Consumer Reports and Popular Science. Multiple research have been carried out over the course of many years, and the results of these studies indicate that there are very few to no negative effects on people, children, pregnant women and their offspring, pets, and the environment. What exactly is DEET, and how does it prevent mosquito bites?
The United States Army began research and development on DEET in 1946, and it was first used as an active component in commercial insect repellents in 1957. The majority of people are most familiar with it in its role as the primary component of insect repellent. It acts more like a repellant than a killer since it does not truly kill the insects; rather, it merely drives them away. No one is certain why, but experts assume that it either limits the capacity of an insect to smell or smells so foul to insects that they avoid it. Neither explanation is certain.
How to Use DEET
Although the effectiveness of DEET repellents against mosquitoes could lead one to believe that using a commercial mosquito repellent would be the best way to protect oneself against black flies, this is not always the case. Others have reported little to no impact at all from using it, while others have found that it works well for them. That might be due to the fact that the substance they utilised had an insufficiently high concentration.
In most cases, the quantities of active ingredients in commercial insect repellents are far lower than 10 percent. DEET is effective in low quantities, but it is more effective and lasts longer at larger concentrations. Because of this, manufacturers also produce products that contain close to one hundred percent DEET. There’s a sale on one of these products! Deep Woods Sportsmen Insect Repellent I. It has a concentration of 98.5% DEET and is packaged in a spray container for straightforward application. Repel 40, which includes DEET at a concentration of 40 percent, is another another product that comes highly recommended by the Tick and Mosquito Project.
You will need to apply the repellent to the area around your head and hairline since black flies have a tendency to concentrate in that region. Although there is no evidence to suggest that shutting your eyes, holding your nose, and spraying it on your face would be dangerous, you may find it more comfortable to wear a hat that has been fully sprayed with the product rather than subjecting your face to the spray directly. Before visiting an area known for black flies, you should also spray the repellent on the rest of your body.
Want to Avoid DEET? You Have Natural Options
In spite of the fact that there is just a little amount of data to show that DEET is dangerous, you should probably avoid using it nevertheless. After all, the herbicide glyphosate has been widely considered to be completely risk-free ever since it was first developed in the year 1970 up until quite recently. On the off chance that you want to avoid getting welts when hiking through the northern woods, here are a few natural repellents that you may try.
Create a spray with mint: Spraying yourself with a mixture that contains two cups of water, one-fourth of a cup of vinegar, and ten drops of oil derived from peppermint or spearmint is an effective way to get rid of body odour. Put your hands over your eyes and pinch the bridge of your nose since it won’t be nice, but it’s safe and it could solve the problem.
Drink apple cider vinegar: Starting the programme approximately three to four days before you are expected to be exposed to black flies is required for this kind of insect repellent to be effective. If you take a spoonful of it three to four times a day, it will work as a natural repellent by penetrating the pores of your skin and preventing mosquito bites. This will work out more effectively.
Use lemon eucalyptus oil: Applying this essential oil on your skin as soon as possible before coming into contact with black flies is recommended.
Applying the rubbing of a pine branch to your skin: If you suddenly find yourself in the midst of black fly territory without any protection, snap off a young pine branch from a tree and massage the sap from the branch all over your body. The fragrance of pine serves to ward off those annoying little buffalo gnats.
What to Wear in Black Fly Country
Insects are less likely to bite you if you cover your face with netting, wear a jacket with a high collar, long trousers, boots, and gloves, but you probably won’t want to wear all of those things in the summer when the temperature might reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day. On a day when the temperature is high, wearing additional clothing that is not made of a material that is lightweight and breathable may be excessive; however, wearing a hat with netting that covers your face is a good idea at all times.
Put on clothes that is beige or light in colour. Dark clothing, for whatever reason that nobody really understands, is a magnet for bugs.
Permethrin, which can be found at any shop that carries equipment for outdoor sports, may be used to turn garments into an insect repellent. This can be done by spraying the clothing with the chemical. Permethrin, unlike DEET, is hazardous and should never come into contact with your flesh; thus, you should only spray it on your outerwear and do so when the clothing are removed from your body. Even after washing your clothes, permethrin will continue to be active; however, it will lose its effectiveness over time, so it is important to launder clothing that has been treated with permethrin in a separate load.
Keeping Black Flies Away From Your Campsite
If you are going to be camping in the woods, you really must remember to bring some additional supplies with you to ward off the black flies, or else you will be very regretful. One of them is a battery-powered fan. It would be ideal to have a huge one, but any size would suffice. It will prevent the insects from sensing the carbon dioxide that is drifting about your temples and tempting them to meal, as well as keep the air moving around the campground and inside your tent.
A coil of insect repellant is something else that would be useful to have. Even though the majority of coils contain citronella, a natural insect repellent, having one burning in your surrounding vicinity should keep you comfortable. However, you should still apply an insect repellent to your body just in case. If you are unable to locate a coil, you also have the option of using a citronella candle, which can also ward off insects but not to the same extent as a coil. Coils are readily available and don’t cost too much money.