By Bob Humphrey
Summer is finally here and with it comes the opportunity for all sorts of outdoor activities like camping, fishing, boating and riding. You have to take the good with the bad however because along with the warm weather, sunshine and tourists comes a host of six- and eight-legged biting, stinging pests. What follows are a few hints on dealing with the latter. As far as the tourists, you’ll just have to grin and bear them.
In the case of hornets, wasps and bees, the best solution is avoidance. Leave them alone and they won't bother you. Much the same is true for spiders and scorpions. Stay away from woodpiles, fallen trees and the dark, neglected corners of old buildings (ground blinds and shooting houses) and you should be alright. It’s also standard practice when in scorpion country to check your boots every morning before putting them on. Turn them over and pound on them. Don’t stick your hand in.
Ticks and chiggers require a more active approach. At the very least, check yourself every day after leaving the field. Wearing a tightly woven base layer like Rynoskin, or a standard base layer with tight cuffs can help reduce bites. Another method is to apply permethrin - a chemical sold under several different trade names - to your clothing. Spray it on. Let your clothes dry and the permethrin will act as an effective insecticide for several weeks. Standard repellents like DEET also work and can be applied directly to the skin, but have a much shorter period of effectiveness.
The most abundant and to many the most annoying pest are mosquitoes and black flies. Fortunately there are several solutions. Reducing the amount of exposed skin is one. Extreme cases, like spring bear hunting or fishing at dawn and dusk -- when the fishing is typically best -- might also call for a head net and gloves. Applying insect repellent is another, though as already noted, they have a short period of effectiveness and frequent re-application.
Another, more effective option is something called a ThermaCELL. It’s a small portable device consisting of a tiny heating element powered by a replaceable butane cartridge and a pad saturated with a synthetic copy of a naturally occurring insecticide. When activated, the device will maintain a 200 square foot mosquito-free zone around you.
When camping, keep food covered. Put a ground cloth under your tent and always keep windows and doors zipped up. Keeping a good smoky fire going, even during the day, can also help reduce bugs.
When riding your ATV or Side-by-Side, bugs are less of a problem but still worth some preventive action. In addition to a helmet and eye protection, you should always wear boots and long pants, long-sleeved shirts and gloves. This is especially important on a four-wheeler because you’re more exposed.