The bugs around our heads

Last Sunday while helping my pal, Bill Anderson, work on his boat, before the breeze that foreshadowed hard rain later in the afternoon, clouds of bugs constantly buzzed around our heads. They were not biting, but they were still very annoying.

At one point while using vacuuming the inside of the boat, I turned the powerful vacuum on the cloud of bugs that swarmed around my head. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, were sucked into the vacuum. Moments later there were as many bugs around my head as there had been before my vacuum attack.

There are ways to defeat bugs, but in the case of masses of bugs, a vacuum is not much help.

From the first pleasant days of spring, what few pleasant days there were, ticks have been a nasty problem in our area. Most of the ticks have been the large variety which do not transmit Lyme Disease, or at least it seems so since the tiny deer ticks which do carry Lyme Disease are so small they usually escape notice.

Then we started to be plagued by mosquitoes. This problem, I expect, will get considerably worse since the rainy weather has created countless pools where the little *?#XXX@! breed.

This week I received a news release from the folks who make Insect Shield Apparel and Gear which includes several good suggestions for minimizing problems from mosquitoes. These are among your first line of defense from these disease carrying bugs.

The first 10 suggestions revolve around eliminating water where mosquitoes breed. Some of these places might have escaped your notice. During your search for pools where mosquitoes can breed, check flower pots, children’s wading pools, watering cans, gutters, rot holes in trees and stumps and low spots in your lawn.

Water in wading pools, bird baths and planters should be changed at least once each week. Fill in low spots in the lawn. Clean gutters so water does not collect. Maintain a swimming pool properly. Clean out drains which are blocked. Correct leaky outdoor faucets, pipes and hoses. Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps with concrete or sand.

Cut grass short, depriving mosquitoes of places to hide.

Your next line of defense against biting insects is insect repellents. These include the insect repellents which can be sprayed or rubbed onto body or clothing. If possible, avoid applying questionable chemicals, which include the most effective insect repellents, directly to the skin.

Naturally the folks who make Insect Shield Apparel and Gear would like you to use their products. This really is a very good option. Insect Shield Apparel has been registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is an approved vendor to the Army and Marine Corps.

Durability is important. Insect Shield Apparel effectively lasts through 70 laundering. That is a lot of wear.

During my numerous spring fishing and hunting trips to the North Woods, I learned a lot about avoiding biting insects, in the case of the North Woods, mosquitoes and black flies. By black flies I do not mean the things folks in this area call black flies. The bite of black flies of the North Woods make our local, so-called black flies comparably tolerable. North Woods black flies have been known to drive men crazy. One bite may swell to the size of half a ping pong ball.

Step one in avoiding biting insects is wearing tan or gray clothing. Virtually all other colors attract black flies and mosquitoes. Likewise, do not wear clothing that has been dyed by ‘brighteners’, which is actually ultraviolet. Buy outdoors clothing without UV brighteners, then never launder them in detergents with UV brighteners. Most sportsmen laundry soaps do not contain brighteners.

You can buy head nets, jackets or entire suits which keep insects away from your body. Inexpensive, disposable latex, or similar material, gloves keep hands free of bugs.

Apply insect repellent at every seam in clothing through which a bug might pass.

Many of the more popular insect repellents will keep away mosquitoes. But for black flies it takes a repellent that contains a large percentage of DEET. I have usually relied on Bens 100 insect repellent. To keep away ticks, use Permethrin on clothing, but not on skin.

ThermaCell makes at least two types of units that do an excellent job of keeping away biting insects. I have tested their original unit on several spring bear hunts, and their lantern in my back yard.

Finally, if all fails and you are bitten by a bug, I recommend The Extractor, a device which sucks out the venom which causes itching that insects inject into the body, and I recommend StingEze to ease the discomfort of bites.