Avoiding Those Itchy Bug Bites

As we approach summer, we eagerly await the departure of the black, deer, and horse flies in the Adirondacks. For those of us whom have never experienced these infamous creatures, they’re a real marvelous annoyance. Though they’d never prevent a die hard hiker from chasing an adventure, they do make a hard case for staying home. For those, alike to myself, whose itch for the mountain is stronger than a fly bite there are a few things we can do to limit our exposure.

1. Bring bug nets- yes they look funny, but trust me they work. Just wear a baseball cap, and throw the net over top. Keeping the bugs out of your eyes, nose and ears will help you enjoy your mountains that much more.

2. Wear and bring bug spray- While bug spray isn’t perfect, and smells pretty terrible; it does help. Spray your hat, ankles and shirt. Try to keep the spray off of your skin, especially if it contains deet. You can buy a travel version of bug spray at stores such as Target. Try applying a new dose of spray every 2 hours.

3. Wear a shirt with short or long sleeves and hiking pants or tall socks with shorts- I have found the most common spots for bites to occur are my elbows, ankles, neck and shoulders. Though time to time a real bugger will get the back of my knee. By wearing light, breathable spandex or hiking pants, I limit my skin exposure.

4. If you plan on camping, using a tent is the best option for keeping bug bites to a minimum during your resting hours. Be sure to keep the bugs from entering the tent, by keeping the doors zipped closed as much as possible. Try taking your shoes off before unzipping the tent, and pitching your tent away from standing water.

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a tent with a mosquito.” ~African Proverb

If a tent is too heavy to bring on a backpacking trip (even though there are light options) there are full body bug nets for those using a lean-to. There’s also an option for a bug net to go with a camping hammock.

While none of these techniques are new, or original, they do help. If you cannot stand having the constant buzz of June’s creatures, then try choosing mountains with limited standing water or trails that receive a lot of sunshine.