Beating the Bugs
It's bug season: Those pesky mosquitoes and carnivorous blackflies are coming out of their winter slumber packing sharpened teeth and heightened appetites. Will you let them keep you out of the woods? Or can you keep them at bay? Is there a way to avoid these backcountry spoilsports?
DEET. No one likes the stuff. It's smelly, and if it can strip the plastic off of your watchband and the coating off of your Gore-Tex, you've got to wonder what it can do to human skin. But test after test has confirmed that DEET, the active ingredient in most insect repellents, is the most effective anti-bug skin-lotion. Use it sparingly.
You don't need 100-percent DEET to do the job. Tests show that diluted concentrations work just as well. You can buy combo sunscreen-insect repellent lotions to protect your skin from two problems at once.
Know where bugs hang out. Lush grassy meadows, especially wet ones, are prime skeeter territory. Windy passes are not.
Citronella candles can help keep mosquitoes out of the area, meaning that you don't have to slather so much repellent on yourself.
Every once in a while an outdoor magazine tests the theory that Skin-so-Soft skin lotion by Avon is the bug repellent par excellence. The tests never hold up the theory. But the debunkers and disclaimers have no effect on backwoodsmen and lumberjacks who wouldn't think of heading into Maine's northwoods during blackfly season without slathering on their wives' skin lotion. After years of claiming that the lotion is only a lotion, Avon has finally buckled to the pressure and produced an insect repellent. Old-timers swear it works against blackflies.
Head-nets can be a sanity saver, and they weigh next to nothing.
Try clothes, not chemicals. Long-sleeved tightly-woven loose-fitting clothes in light colors work best.
A hat with a brim keeps bugs away from your face. Many insects fly in an up-and-down pattern; the brim keeps them at bay.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication