I will never forget the time when, camping as a child in Algonquin Provincial Park, the black flies were so bad that we had bites all over our bodies. It was late June and it had been rainy and cool that month. I remember having red welts and itchy skin for days after returning home from the camping trip. Over the years, I have come to realize that sometimes you need to make adjustments to accommodate the things that you cannot change in your life. The same rule applies to camping in bug season. I have one of the less common blood types. I guess bugs find me more appealing, almost like dessert, because my blood tastes a little different. Anyway, my rule is to not go camping in black fly and mosquito country during bug season. For me, this means that I avoid my favourite camping spots in Ontario’s Canadian Shield during late May and June. During bug season, I camp at other regions in Ontario that are drier and warmer. How do you know when it is bug season? It depends on the region that you are camping in, the climate, the time of year, and so on. After you go camping in your region for a few years, you quickly come to learn when the bugs are biting. Here are more suggestions for coping with the bug season that traditionally kicks off camping season every spring in Ontario:
Insect Repellent: Pack the best insect repellent that money can buy. The oily repellents that you rub onto your body are more effective and last longer than the ones that you spray on. Apply the repellent liberally to all exposed flesh. Repellents that contain Deet are considered to be good, especially for protecting against West Nile virus. Apply the repellent to your hat and it will help to keep the pesky critters from landing on your head. Sprays work the best on hats and clothing. Incidentally, Deet should not be used on very young children. For young children, you also need to use milder repellents for comfort and to minimize the burning sensation if they accidentally rub it into their eyes.
Dress Properly: Wear clothes that cover your entire body. This means long-sleeve shirts and long pants, socks and shoes. Exposed feet are a favourite for the bugs. Hats, because bugs also love your head, especially when you start sweating on hikes. Lighter clothing colours seem to be less attractive to bugs than darker colours. Screen netting over your face can be added if the bugs are in a really nasty mood.
Avoid Certain Scents: Do not wear makeup, perfume, cologne, or scented deodorant, as these fragrances attract bugs.
Select an Appropriate Campsite: Try to camp in more open areas where there is a breeze instead of near swamps, creeks, marshes, and bushes.
Keep Your Tent and Screen House Zipped Shut: Bugs enter through any little gap they can find, as they are very opportunistic. Do not encourage them by leaving your tent and screen house unzipped. Turn off your flashlights at night when entering the tent and screen house, as light attracts bugs.