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GROUND RULES by cl i ff jacobson

Are They Biting? Not fish. Bugs. Here’s how to prepare for the inevitable attack.

WHEN I WAS A SCOUT in the 1950s, an experienced woodsman spoke to our troop about canoeing the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. When it came to bugs, he removed his jacket to reveal a T-shirt that bore a chest-filling likeness of a female mosquito and the words, “Minnesota State Bird.” “This here’s a small one,” he said,

pointing to the “bird.” “I’ve seen some as large as bulldogs, so you boys best watch out!” I was barely 12, and I believed

every word. As I got older, I learned that canoes and mosquitoes do go together. It’s the price one pays for the fun of being outdoors. But I also discovered that biting insects are toler- able if you’re well prepared.

Know Your Enemies MOSQUITOES swarm at dawn and dusk and just before an approaching storm. Lightweight long johns or a gentle breeze stops them cold. HORSE FLIES and DEER FLIES (those “bulldogs”) attack on hot, sunny


Recommended insect repellents Active


Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II

Cutter Backwoods

Off Family Care Smooth & Dry

3M Ultrathon 8-hour

Repel Plant-Based

Natrapel 8-hour With Picaridin


deet 30% Aerosol or pump

deet 23% Aerosol or pump

deet 15% Aerosol or pump

deet 25% Aerosol, pump, or cream

oil of lemon eucalyptus

Picaridin 20%

S COUTING ¿ MAY•JUNE 2011 Pump Pump Type

days—calm or windy. They bite through thin clothing and produce painful wounds that can become infected. BLACK FLIES, which are the size of rice grains, breed in moving water. The larvae form dark-brown “nets” that look like nylon hose in the water. Don’t camp near these. Black flies prefer confined areas around wrists, ankles, and ears. They can’t fly in wind (any wind) or bite through thin clothing or long underwear. Unlike mosquitoes, black flies won’t bite when confined inside a tent. Instead, they just climb to the roof and try to get out. Wait until they mass then crush them by the thousands with your bandanna. “NO-SEE-UMS” are smaller than the holes in mosquito netting. Their bite—a sharp, painful sting—subsides quickly.

Chemical Solutions Almost any commercial repellent will, at a minimum, deter mosquitoes and no-see-ums—for a while. But only those that contain “deet” (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) work well for biting flies. The Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention and the U.S. Army recommend 30 percent deet for problem bugs. My own experience in the Canadian Arctic suggests that’s enough for all but the meanest black flies.

Although government tests conclude that deet does not cause health problems, adults with sensi- tive skin and all children should use a mild, cream-based (low-deet or no-deet) repellent or a “controlled- release” formula that uses submicron encapsulation. Here, a patented skin-nourishing protein builds walls



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