Attack of the killer black flies

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of May 9-16, 1996
The Bahamas' low-key Out Islands
Green Tortoise for alternative travel
West Virginia is for mountain biking
Attack of the killer black flies
Wildlife and nature resorts
Pacific Crest Trail weather

Attack of the killer black flies
Question: We would like to go for a canoe trip in Algonquin Park from May 28 through June 7. How bad are the black flies at that time of year and how do they compare to the midges in the Scottish Highlands? Can we have a relaxed dinner or will we be tormented continuously by the black flies? By the way, are there mosquitoes, too?

Marc Beckers
Ithaca, NY
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: I won't lie to you, Marc. They're bad. If you go, bring plenty of insect repellent, a large and powerful fly swatter, and a high tolerance for gigantic, buzzing insects, because they'll be out in force.

Sadly, the cold, hard truth is that June is peak black-fly season, which means that not only will you likely be tormented during dinner, but pretty much throughout the day. And, while you're thinking about that, factor mosquitoes, sand flies, and deer flies into the mix: They make their first appearance of the season in early June, but--surprise, here's some good news--they're not in prime human-biting form until July. Bear in mind, of course, that fly populations vary depending on weather conditions. If it's particularly rainy and muggy, you'll need to switch into high insect alert.

And finally, I'll leave you with the words of a cunning, practiced black-fly dodger who also happens to be an Algonquin Park ranger: "How do I deal with the pesky things? I just don't go out. I mean, I won't have a barbecue on my patio and I won't suntan in my backyard. I only go out when I have to. It's that simple."

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