If you’re out there in the woods, there’s going to be bugs. (Sorry, but it’s true.) Your first step in dealing with bugs is to be away from the areas they like best. Basically, they like to be damp and cool (but not wet and cold). It’s all about knowing your enemy and its likes and dislikes.
Bugs Like It Damp
Stay away from swampy areas, or places with a lot of wet vegetation. When making camp, choose sites away from these areas for sure, but because they like standing water, make sure to get rid of any standing water left in rocks, logs or anything else that might hold a puddle. For ticks in particular, stay away from areas with tall vegetation and anywhere known to attract birds (they like them). You’ll also find that camping along the river or on the lake, obviously you’ll find a lot of wet areas that soak up and hold water. Check for sites that border the water with sand or rocks. These areas either won’t hold water or will at least drain it away a lot easier than soil and vegetation. Sites that are raised well above the water level are also a good idea.
Bugs Like It Cool
Conversely, they don’t like heat – they dry out. If you can, stay in sunny areas. In the heat of summer, this might not seem like a great alternative, but it’s one of the great outdoor dilemma: Bake in the sun bug free (relatively), or cool down in the shade while the pests snack on you. If you can, make camp somewhere that has some open areas, so even if you don’t want to hang out in the sun, you can at least step out and get a bit of a reprieve.
Good Excuse to Stay in the Boat
One of the reasons I like to keep moving when I go out tripping is that the bugs don’t usually follow you (as much) onto the lake. I mean, if they’re bad, they’re all over the place, but generally this rule holds true. Why? I’m not sure whether it’s because they can’t get out there and back to shore without rest, but part of the reason is that the breeze from an open area like lakes and rivers keeps them at bay. Either way, while I can’t guarantee a bite free boat ride, I have often found an excuse to paddle around when the bugs are at their worst.
So when it comes to dealing with bugs, your best defense is what Mr. Miyagi suggested: The best defense no be there. Now of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t come get you though.
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