Blackflies and Noseeums

We all know that bugs can make a trip to the north country miserable if it is too early in the season. But what is that magic date when it’s safe (or tolerable) to head out to Maine or upper MN or Canada? We’ve been going in the fall mainly to avoid crowds and bugs. Some cold, wet weather made this year’s trip nearly as miserable as the bugs for me and my bride. So when do you think it’s safe to head out?

April… ice out
April is one of our favorite months to head out before the bug season starts. Or as soon as the ice is out but before the Mayflies.

In the fall Sept is one of our favorite months of no bugs.

Bug calendar
Bug calendar for northern Minnesota and western Ontario:

  • Black flies: from the first 70F day in spring (late May) through late June. Another spurt in the fall during Indian summer.
  • No-see-ums: from mid June through end of July.
  • Mosquitoes: June and July.
  • Deer and horse flies: July and August.
  • Friendly flies: July. Hords of flies about ever 10 years following tent catapiller outbreaks. We are due for this to happen in the next couple years.
  • Stable flies (ankle biting fly): July and August.
  • Hexagenia mayflies: late June through mid July. Don’t bite but could affect your fishing success.
  • Wood ticks or rarer deer ticks: May through July.

    So take your pick, but it seems to me you would be better off just accepting and tolerating the bugs OR pack a bug shelter along when you need to get away from the bugs in camp. Life is too short to limit yourself when you go canoe tripping. You can almost always leave the bugs on shore just by being out on the water canoeing. But the persistent exception to this would the stable flies. They are happy to hide out among your packs and bite your ankles all day long.

There is a bug for all seasons
I just go.

Living in the woods in Maine it matters not if I am taking out the trash at home or paddling a canoe elsewhere.

Its a roll of the dice as to the bug schedule. While there is a general scheme of insect emergence, water plays a key role.

Wow, Duluth Moose
YOU ARE GOOD! This was great. Bugs eat me alive no matter what time of year I go outside. I am just way too sweet.

I would like to bring a friend as bait, to distract all these critters so they leave me alone. I have not found anything to spray/spread on the friend to attract all the bugs. Any ideas? :slight_smile:

Bug Magnet
Bringing along a paddling friend who happens to be a bug magnet can be a perfect solution. And I’ve been doing that for many years. Don’t know if there’s a standard stereotype, but mine happens to be a redhead and I tell her to eat lots of bananas several weeks before a major trip. But she would easily outrun me if a bear ever decided to give chase.

roll em in mud
always works heah in de woods. I live in de woods all year round.


I like mud. I dont like bugs.

Or you can attach a fan to your guests.

If all else fails
I am very happy with my Original Bug SHirt in cotton, treated with permethrin.


I’ve read that a lot of bugs don’t like garlic. What about getting garlic in capsules and sprinkling it around? Or maybe get some liquid garlic, add it to water in a small spray bottle and spray it around?

Garlic makes me sick… :slight_smile:

Sounds like 'camper marinade’
I knew a bear that had a recipe like this, except he added some oregano & parsley. Soak in tent overnight to make tender…


might just work, to a degree. I got my wife a bug shirt for Xmas. Dumb move.

You get used to it.
Really, you do.

Mosquitoes are the easiest. AFter the first 10,000 bites or so, you no longer react to them.

Blackfiles take longer, and I never have gotten completly immune to them. However most flies bite less on grease. I knew guys working on the lines running up to Kettle Falls on the east side of lake Winnipeg who would work without shirts. They used motor oil for the bugs.

I’ve used lard, or margarine.

A Streetsweeper with very, very fine

I was sort of suprised to see this post

– Last Updated: Jan-08-11 2:14 AM EST –

again. I found my first year in bug country was not at all bad. The black flies chewed my legs and arms and occasionally got me on the face. I'm fortunate to not have a reaction to the bite. Just profuse bleeding, no whelps or itching. The mosquitos were worse in Missouri when I went home for a visit in June. The advice that DuluthMoose gave was what I'll go by. Last spring and summer was an unusual one up here as far as the local folk were concerned. They called it a "bug free year" up here on the Gunflint Trail. The late Darryl (DuluthMoose) spent his life, his career up here in the woods, on the lakes and in swamps hanging out with the bugs and other critters that make us miserable. His insect/calendar is posted on my wall. I think it's probably as reliable as anything we'll ever find.
BTW....I bought a complete Bug suit, top and bottom. Never needed them. Only used spray once. That was spring and summer 2010. Spring and summer 2011 could be different. Probably will be. I'm keeping the bug suit.

Get over it!

Bug Calendar
Keeping the Duluth Moose Bug Calendar on the wall next to the camping gear cabinets will be a lasting reminder of our late friend and sage.


OMG, those horrible mayflies!..LOL

– Last Updated: Feb-23-11 7:09 PM EST –

per kayamedic: Just Go.....
all the best in 2011..


In central Canada, we shoot for July 15 as the earliest put in date. I can’t tell you how many times we have gone one-two weeks earlier and white socks (black flies) were relentless; which for some destinations you have no choice but to put up with them. For Mn and south Canada, mid August is awesome; bugs can be gone by then. Don;t know about Maine.

Course, it all varies if the weather for the year has been warm, cold, wet, or especially dry; and some areas are worse than others. Mosquitos? You can laugh at Mosquitos compared to BF’s :slight_smile: No see-ums, stable flies (ankle biters) and friendly flies are annoying but much more tolerable. A bad case of aggressive black flies is really something to experience.

What about HERBAL ARMOR?

– Last Updated: Apr-26-11 4:56 PM EST –

I have used
"All Terrain HERBAL ARMOR Insect Repellent"
on the tundra to great effect against flies.
It is free of most chemical crap and smells great, like you've been run over by a truck loaded with flowers (lemon grass, geraniums, etc.)
It has worked really well for me.

Has anyone used it against the horrid no-see-um?