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What Can Spoil Camping Faster? Bugs!
What can ruin a camping trip faster than the sun can set in Hawaii? Insects! Camping, in my opinion, is by far the best recreational hobby you can share. You can go for it with a lot of excitement like climbing a mountain or it can be a leisurely walk on a path through a winding meadow. Absolutely anyone can go camping. But nothing less than a hurricane can ruin a camping trip faster than insects. At the outset, let me openly admit that my experience with insects is in northern North America.
My travels have been as a tourist, so I’ve never trod the jungles of Central America, although I’ve encountered very small biting insects in Mexico, much like my black fly, and only a few hours after the sunset. I have been to Europe, even Northern Europe and had no problems. Southern Europe and the Balkans nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true. On a Greek island, I encountered a cockroach in my bathroom. It was the tapping of his feet on the tiles that woke me up. I finally got it but it was so big it wouldn’t flush.
In Canada, I have experience. I’ve been to some of the worst infested areas and I could go on to brag about my survival. Let’s deal with the biting kind one at a time.
MOSQUITO: They are everywhere, in varying quantities. In big cities there are very few of them, while in the countryside and in small communities they can be a real problem. They are evening and night insects and can ruin good sleep. The mosquito net is good. Historically, bug killer drugs have been an awful substance and not something you wouldn’t want to put on before bed. If you are in an area where they are really bad, modern insect repellents are good and not greasy. The ingredient that does the trick is DEET.
It’s really effective but with all that sort of stuff, I don’t think you want to overuse it or get in your mouth, nose or eyes. Traditionally the Natives used smoke and I think mind power. I remember seeing an old man sitting on a bench on a high bank of the Mackenzie River. It was spring and the mosquitoes were terrible. I was just a kid and they were driving me crazy. He, however, didn’t seem bothered at all. I studied him and every once in a while he would slowly raise his hand and snatch a mosquito from his neck. I came to the conclusion that it would only respond to biting and not buzzing. uh huh. I’m still working on it.
BLACK FLY: In Canada, a song was written about the black fly. They are notorious and it is a deserved reputation. The black fly is a diurnal bug. They like the heat and your blood. Unlike the mosquito, they don’t like to be indoors. So you can get relief by stepping inside. It can be a house, a tent or a car. It’s weird, you can be sitting in a car with the window down and the black fly won’t go past where the window was.
The deet mosquito repellent drug is also effective against black flies. If you don’t have drugs, cover up as much as possible and make sure all openings in your clothes, cuffs and collar of your pants and shirt are tight. A smaller cousin of the black fly is also a real nuisance. They are so small that they are called no-see-ums. Treat them as you would a black fly. There are few others that bite that you should be aware of and I will blog about them later.
Mosquitoes and black flies are the main culprits it can ruin a perfectly wonderful camping trip. There are a few other stinging or stinging insects that you should be aware of as they can cause you a lot of discomfort. If you have allergies, they can be very dangerous. Even without the allergies, if you get caught in a bad situation where you get a lot of bites, that can be dangerous too.
At the outset, let me clarify that I am not an entomologist. I don’t know the proper name of an insect, so the names I will use will be the popular local names of the territory where I come from, the north.
The Bulldog: This critter is a biting fly. It doesn’t sting but it literally tears off a piece of your flesh. It’s not a huge chunk, but it looks like it’s taken on an ounce of flesh. The Bulldog is more aggressive when wet. If you’re at the beach and you dive in, when you surface they’ll be waiting for you. They will harass you to the shore. As you leave, they will invade you.
You want to dry off as quickly as possible and maybe put on a T-shirt. It won’t stop them completely, but they will become bearable. These flies have two wings, a dark head, black and yellow-orange eyes and abdomen. At the very front is the dangerous part. It looks like a big nose, but it’s actually two claws they use to tear off the flesh. Luckily, they’re not bad when you’re not wet. In fact, you will hardly notice them.
The nameless fly: There’s a flying insect up north that I don’t have a name for. Fortunately, they are not common because they are horrible. For lack of a name, I called them black hornets. I’ve only been bitten by this bug once. It was about forty years ago, and the memory is still fresh. I haven’t studied it very well because every time I see one in the distance I start running for cover.
They look totally black, are about 3/4 inch long, and have a stinger protruding from the back that looks like a darning needle. I try not to exaggerate. I think they only have two wings, unlike a dragonfly which has four. I can’t tell you more about this insect, but if from my weak description you could help me, I would surely appreciate it.
The deer fly: Again, I’m not sure this is the right name. It looks a bit like a housefly, but a bit smaller, and it’s not black. On its two opaque wings it has a round colored spot about 1/8 inch in diameter. It is a kind of yellow-green. They are not stingers, they are biters, taking small pieces of flesh. They are not abundant.
The hair eater: It’s a flying beetle. It is entirely black and has two long antennae. I know next to nothing about this bug. I have no recollection of being bitten by one, but my wife assures me that she was. She says they have a horrible bite. Whether they bite for food, to be aggressive, or just for fun, I don’t know. Why are they called hair eaters? Again, I don’t know, maybe it’s because when they land in a woman’s hair she goes absolutely crazy and they seem to do that quite often. I don’t have a lot of hair so it’s not a problem for me. My wife says they bite, and I believe her.
These are the main to keep an eye out. I’m sure there are many more, but they are not significant. I should add that there is the usual series of bees and wasps, but for the most part these simply react when disturbed; although the wasps come to eat the food from your plate.
DEET insect repellent is the best. Be careful around your eyes or any open wounds. I was very careful applying it to babies, and I did so without the backing of any scientific evidence. I would cover them with a net.
Yes, there are bugs there, and yes some of them will bite or sting you. But with the proper precautions, there’s no reason not to enjoy the many wonders of creation. Remember, my motto is “You’re not having fun if you’re not comfortable!”
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