BE PREPARED FOR SUMMER FUN
Well it's here...summer that is. Weather previously had been a warm spring so to speak as we have been very lucky with a lack of heat and humidity usually associated with summer here in the northeast.
Kids are enjoying their vacation with fun in the sun, fishing, outdoor picnics, family BBQ's and time at the beach. There are concerns of insect bites from mosquitoes, ticks, bees and any number of assorted pests, which can cause Lyme Disease and the most recently West Nile Virus not to mention infections and allergic reactions. Pests are way up in numbers because of the wet, cool spring.
As fishermen and women, pest problems are a major concern because we fish in out of the way places, during prime insect activity times, near water and travel woodsy paths to get to where we're going. To enjoy our recreational sports, we certainly can't be expected to stop participating, so there are some things we can do to control them. Some towns and cities will spray and about the only thing individuals can do is stay indoors.
That's impractical and virtually impossible if you're an outdoors enthusiast, so you have to take other precautions when pursuing your favorite outdoor pastime. Avoiding problem areas, dressing correctly and using proper insect control and prevention are the soundest advice. So I'll try to lay down a few tidbits on what I do to ease the "sting" of fighting insects.
DRESS CORRECTLY. When heading outdoors, you must take the necessary steps in precautionary fashion. This advice goes for both flying pests and ticks. Wear light, loose fitting clothes of a tightly woven fabric and also go light in the color department. It's much easier to see ticks on light colors than dark colors.
If you're clothing is light in material, wear long sleeved shirts with cuffs buttoned and long pants. Tuck your pants inside your socks. Ticks have a nasty habit of climbing up your pants leg and attaching themselves behind your knee or the first sign of hair and you don't want that to happen! Don't walk barefoot, stay away from brushy areas and stay on already established, well-worn paths.
Do periodic buddy checks in the outdoors. Have your companion check over your clothes and head for ticks. Look behind the ears, the base of the neck and crown of your head. When you get home, turn your pants inside out and check. You don't want to bring them into the house. Check your underarms and remember the deer tick is the size of the head of a pin at full maturity, so check carefully.
FLYING PESTS. In knowing thy enemy, there are 160 species of mosquitoes in the U.S. and the ratio for mosquitoes to humans is approximately 42,000 to 1. A female mosquito draws in 200 percent of her body weight in blood! Not very pleasant when you think about it...is it?
For flying insects, wear light, khaki and neutral colored clothing, stay away from flowery designs and blue. Mosquitoes are attracted to blue, while bees and wasps like flowers and don't wear perfume or cologne, they drive flying pests wild! Be alert to the time of day when certain flying pests are more active. Blackflies like early morning, mosquitoes tend to favor twilight and deerflies like mid-day feedings.
Mosquitoes favor cool moist places, flies prefer to hover around animals and blackflies are attracted to dark moving objects. Yellow jackets are drawn to food, particularly sweets and garbage, so picnic areas are favorite places for them.
REPELLENTS. Choosing the proper insect repellant is critical. Topical insect applications can be effective in preventing bites from occurring in the first place. One of the most common ingredients is Deet.
The real name is too long to pronounce, so we just call it Deet, which was developed by the government in 1951, after testing 11,000 compounds for their effectiveness in pest control.
The EPA approves it and no other substance has been found more effective! Deet is safe when used with the product instructions on the label and when problems are reported they are generally from accidental eye exposure causing simple irritation.
I have used all sorts of products in my many years on the water and in the woods and I have continually used Deet with no problems, short or long term. Many products use Deet in their repellents and in any number of concentrations. I have found the Tender Co. of Littleton, NH products to be the best with Ben's Insect Repellent far and away the number one choice.
It far and away surpassed any repellent I've ever used and it comes in liquid or aerosol with many Deet concentrations for those who have concerns. Concentrations range from 24% to 36% and even a liquid that has 95 to 99% Deet. As I stated, I used this in a terrible location and walked away, truly unscathed by mosquitoes or gnats!
I never leave home without it now, no matter where I fish! Tender makes a full line of repellents including one called Natrapel, whose main ingredient is natural Citronella. That's the same ingredient from the candle repellents for those who are concerned about Deet and children. They should be available in your local tackle shops as of this writing.
SELECT THE PROPER PRODUCT. A wide array and various forms and concentrations of insect repellent are available through today's technology. Keep in mind a few things when deciding on one:
Aerosol and pump spray products are generally preferred for treating clothing as well as skin applications and give an "even" application.
Liquid, cream lotions and sticks provide more precise applications
Lower concentrations of Deet products are appropriate when exposure to insects is minimal and exposure time is short
Increase the Deet concentration in heavily infested areas or long exposure periods.
Use a product with Citronella if concerned about Deet and children.
Follow some of these tips and advice and your time in the outdoors will be greatly enhanced, once you rid yourself of pest problems. See you on the water.