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The Bugs That Bite – Chigger, Tick, Mosquito and Black Fly

By Editor | March 18, 2008

Bugs bite, Insects bites, Chigger, Ticks, Mosquitos and Black FliesBugs buzz, they fly, they swarm and they turn your skin into red itching sores. Camping in high, windy spots and spraying on lots of DEET are usually your best defenses, but here are few more tips for avoiding the biting insects you are mots likely to encounter in the woods.

Chigger – The larva of the harvest mite is commonly called a chigger and it is virtually invisible. You would require a magnifying glass to see it. The chigger’s however produces an very itchy red welt. Mostly the chigger is found east of the Rocky Mountains and these parasites are a seasonal plague throughout the Southeast and Plains of the U.S in early summer, when they attach themselves onto hikers who brush against low shrubs, grasses and especially berry patches (which attract birds, rodents and other potential hosts).
The easiest way to avoid these harvest mite larvae (chiggers) from biting you is to wear long pants and tuck the cuffs inside your socks. However, before tucking the cuffs in, treat the pant cuffs and upper sock with DEET or permethrin. Skip wearing sandals or shoes with mesh type ventilation where chiggers can enter, and avoid thick undergrowth by staying on the trails.

Mosquito – If you want to avoid mosquitoes, the only place really is in polar regions. Antartica is the only place on earth, the buzzing sound of the mosquito going past your ear. However, not many outdoor lover wants to spend their time hiking in the polar areas, right? Unfortunately, for the fair weather explorer, mosquitoes thrive pretty much anywhere where there is standing water. From the Alaska tundra through Canada to the Southwest desert to Florida’s salt marshes, some species of mosquitoes work over-time and bite at dawn and dusk, while others prefer only midday.
Mosquito season is typically spring and early summer, and when it arrives you can avoid them by staying on the shoreline and ridgetop locations, where breezes keep the insects at bay, or if you prefer walk in the rain. By wearing colors that blend in with the background can also help, as mosquitoes recognize contrasts of light and dark, another option is wearing a headnet if there is a swarm of mosquitoes in the mist.

Black Fly – Black Flies can flourish and breed in unpolluted moving water, like streams but not swamps. The black fly is also known as the “buffalo gnat” because of their humpbacks, and in northern locations such as Maine and Michigan they can be bulky and thick. Unlike mosquito, which uses a needle like mouth (proboscis) to suck blood, a black fly will chew a hole or gnaws in your skin and then sips the blood that pools there.
To avoid the black fly and what the black fly can do to your skin, you should cover up all exposed skin with light-colored clothing and skip shirts with buttonholes (black flies can find their way in). Mornings, late afternoons and cloudy days are when they’re at their friskiest. Also you can avoid these pesky black flies, by going out hiking when the weather is a bit chillier (cooler) or consider walking at night.

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Topics: Articles, Camping, Hiking and Backpacking, Nature, Wildlife, World and Environment | 211 Comments »

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