Black fly fever in the Adirondacks

Lake Flower, Saranac NY

I’ll admit to hating just one thing about the Adirondacks in early summer – the bugs. Biting, buzzing, blood-sucking, rash and hive-inducing bugs.

I keep thinking that I’ll get used to them, maybe build up some type of resistance. In fact, one reason I haven’t made the annual trip the last few years is that on each visit my reaction gets worse. On my last visit my ankles, feet, and neck were actually swollen from all the bites and the welts on my scalp hadn’t gone away until the fall. It was bad.

The culprit is the gnat-like black fly. Billions of them hatch in May and June. They fly in your eyes, up your nose, in your mouth, they find their way inside your clothing through the seams, they get caught in your hair. They bite and then you itch miserably for weeks.

Short of covering myself with bug netting and Deet I’ve found no relief, but to stay out of the North Woods that I love so much. The kind people that I bird with like to kid me about the black flies. They think my suffering is funny. Someone took my picture while I was hiding out in the back of our van and suffering from “black fly fever” induced craziness. I think I was trying to swat them away from my head with the water bottle. I was already bright red from the itching.

I don’t think black flies carry any diseases, but they due threaten the sanity of this birder.

6 thoughts on “Black fly fever in the Adirondacks”

  1. In the book A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, he speaks LONG about the black fly as he hikes the Appalachian Trail, and it sounds so gross and painful and madness-inducing.
    I feel for you…and it’s a shame that it’s keeping you from that beautiful area. I hope they come up with a super-duper charged bug spray so you can go back!

  2. That was a great book – I don’t remember him talking about the black flies – maybe I read it before going for the first time.

    I don’t think bug spray works. ;-(

  3. I didn’t realize some people had such a reaction to the black flies! I’ve encountered them on trips to Vermont and to my aunt’s lake house in the Berkshires, but I’ve only found them a nuisance.

    Yeah, they get everywhere, though. They can make it hard to just take a simple walk. The town near my aunt’s little vacation property holds an annual Black Fly Festival. They figure if you can’t beat ’em…

  4. Our world revolves around Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring and Black Fly season. I get an extreem reaction to the bites. You have great sympathy from me. I did discover some limited relief from a paste of water and msg – found this suggestion from another person who loves the outdoors yet suffers from the bites -It hasn’t let me get outdoors just a bit of relief once I am bitten

  5. Ugh! I hate black flies. Once when I was a kid we were camping in upstate New York and I got bitten so badly my eyes swelled shut. It was awful. You have my sympathies 🙂

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