Are you planning on doing some hiking in the Adirondacks this weekend? Better bring the bug spray because it's black fly season.

Swarming black flies can make outdoor events miserable, and their bites pack quite a punch leaving you with itchy red swollen bumps that take a long time to heal. They go straight for your head, face, the back of your neck, and if your allergic one bite can send you to the hospital.

Black fly season is the middle of May through early July, and they're most active a few hours after sunrise and just before sunset. They lay their eggs in clean, fast-running rivers and streams in the woods, which is why we battle them when we're hiking, camping, paddling, or fishing.

Here are some tips to repelling black flies according to

  • Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors.
  • Wear light-colored clothing (flies are attracted to dark colors).
  • Wear a hat with attached netting to prevent flies from swarming your face.
  • Try natural repellants, like vanilla extract, lavender, and pine branch extract.
  • Avoid wearing perfumes and consuming sweetened foods or beverages.
  • Use insect repellent, like those containing DEET.
  • Light a campfire to disguise your scent.

You can try to avoid black flies by planning activities in the middle of the afternoon and try not to hiking near streams where they lay their eggs. Go canoeing or kayaking in lakes and ponds instead of rivers and streams as they're not drawn to open bodies of water. Because of their size, they won't have much biting you on a windy day.

Adirondack Explorer says Keene, Stratford, Arietta, Benson, Black Brook, Caroga, Chester, Indian Lake, Inlet, Jay, Lake Pleasant, Morehouse, Newcomb, North Elba, North Hudson, Wells, and Wilmington have state-issued permits this year to apply the pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) to streams where blackflies breed to kill the larvae.

Bti is not toxic to fish, birds, or other wildlife and is used throughout the world to suppress disease-carrying mosquito populations.

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