Good Night Camping Equipment

Camping Equipment Find all you'll want here.

Lots Of Great Hiking Info

Lots Of Mouth Watering Camping Recipes

Breath Taking Outdoor Posters

Get More Traffic with
RSS Content Feeds

Robin's Adventures In Camping Equipment-Blog

Lets Catch Reel Big Fish Find out more! Blog

Site Map

Outdoor Tips

They're BACK! The (Dreaded) Black Flies

          By Marcia Passos Duffy

If you live in northern New England, you know that starting around Mother's Day and ending around Father's Day is black fly season. (My 6 year old son says: "They must love to bite moms and not dads.") As far as I know, black flies (which are also called buffalo gnats) don't favor either male or female humans - they only want your blood. Perhaps the appearance of black flies on Mother's Day is significant when you consider the life cycle of the insect: biting black flies are female only - they need a meal of blood to lay eggs.

I heard of the dreaded New England "black fly" season when we first moved to New Hampshire 10 years ago. While these tiny, 1/6th of an inch, black flies are found all over the US, with the exception of Florida, they seem to like New Englanders (and Canadians) the best and this area has gotten a reputation for hosting what seems to be an annual convention for these insects from mid-spring to early summer. While my friends who live outside the city of Keene, NH, complain bitterly of the black fly season - which unhappily coincides with trying to get your tomatoes in the garden, among other things - we have never had a huge problem here in Keene.

I have to say, I've only been bitten once or twice - but if you've ever been bitten, it is not something you'll easily forget. It starts out innocently as what seems to be a mosquito bite - but swells to alarming proportions. I tend to get bitten on my legs. My kids get them around their ears and neck - tender areas, I presume, for a hungry egg-laying female.

My neighbor, who grew up in Maine, says that she doesn't get bitten very much anymore. "I heard that you develop immunity after a while," she said, and proceeded to tell me a story - which was told to her - about a man who went across the country on horseback a few years ago. An eccentric fellow, he wore a huge black hat when riding through New England (right after Mother's Day, by the way) to ".catch black flies." When enough gathered on his hat, swept them up and ate them ",to build up his immunity."

Whether this is true or not (that he ate them) is subject to debate (if this is something you care to talk about at all!) but the fact that you build up an immunity has some basis in fact. According to the University of Maine's Cooperative Extension's information:

"Generally black fly bites cause some itching and minor swelling from the first few bites of the season, following which an immunity develops, with subsequent reduced reactions. Nonetheless, even individuals who have lived all their lives in black fly country and are exposed every season, can have greater effects if they get an unusually high number of bites on their first exposure of the season, or have some significant change in their physical condition or medical status."

(Ahem, note nothing about eating them is mentioned.)

Other than getting bit or having them for a snack to build up immunity, you can always try to avoid them - or keep them away!

Here's how:
Beware of sunset, right before a storm, and cloudy days. Black flies are most active during daylight hours, and particularly on cloudy days. They are active in the early morning and evening right after sunset (peak time). Black flies are active right before a storm - but hide during rain or cold.

Get a bird feeder. Much like our horseback rider friend, some birds (such as swallows) and other insects (dragonflies) find black flies to be a tasty meal. Another good reason to hang bird feeders in your yard.

Black flies have a sense of fashion. Light shades such as orange, yellow and light green are less attractive to black flies than dark shades such as blue, purple or red. But black flies can't bite through clothing - so wear long pants, a long-sleeve shirt.

They also love perfume & babbling brooks. Avoid wearing perfume, aftershave, or perfumed personal products when you're outside - they are drawn to the scent. And, unlike mosquitoes, which breed in standing water, black flies breed in running water.

Black Flies are lazy. Or maybe they're just slow. Whatever the case, they can't keep up with you if you're walking fast. But if you stop - watch out!

Garlic and baking soda baths. If you do get bit, soak yourself in a baking soda bath (about 1 cup for a full tub) to help ease the itchiness. My grandmother's old remedy for ANY kind of insect bite is to cut a garlic clove in half and rub on your bite. You won't smell great, but I can attest that it does help ease the itch, and ".cuts the poison," as my grandmother insisted.

Insect repellents work to keep them away. You can always use any product that includes DEET. But for more natural remedies, "Olde Time Woodsman's Liquid Fly Dope" is one of the oldest black fly formulas, created in 1882 and bottled in 1937 after being tested by loggers at woods camps in northern Maine. It was sold in sporting goods store throughout New England for many years. I found it for sale at one website called PredatorPee (don't ask) , 2 ounces for $6.99. You can also use Crocodile! Citronella (made here in my hometown of Keene, NH) which can be purchased online at

Whatever you use, make sure you put it on your neck, ears, face, wrists and hands.

And if all else fails: You're safe in your house. Unlike mosquitoes, black flies won't go inside your house (or in a tent).

Marcia Passos Duffy is a freelance writer and the publisher/editor of The Heart of New England online magazine and weekly e-newsletter (, a publication that celebrates the unique character of the northern New England states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. To subscribe to her free weekly e-newsletter on bed & breakfast deals, New England thrifty tips, contests, and gardening reminders, simply send a blank email to

Camp Cooking

10 Wide Open Tips For Food Safety In The Great Outdoors 
Baked Salmon Recipies 
 Camping Food That Works for You
Cook-Ahead Campouts
Dutch Oven Cooking Basics

Camping Tips

Camping Equipment Essentials
Top Tips for Successful BackCountry Navigation
Primitive Navigation in the Outdoors
Camping and Outdoor Activities
Camping Makes the Weekend Perfect
Great Family Camping Trips
Camping With Man's Best Friend
17 Tips That'll Safeguard You and Your Family From Dog Bites or Attack
Backpacking South East Asia on an Adventurous Route
They're BACK! The (Dreaded) Black Flies
Bird Watching at Its Best-5 Great Tips

Camping Equipment

What To Know When Buying Binoculars
Night Vision Devices
Highpointing: It's Not Just For Mountaineers
10 Benefits You Get from Using Trekking Poles For Hiking
Things You Should Know About Tents
20 Tips on Sleeping Warm in the Outdoors
Let There Be Light, Part 1 “ The Camping Lantern
Camping Lanterns Guide: Backpacking And Camping Lantern Tips
Twenty Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Sleeping Bag

Outdoor Survival

If You're Ever Lost in the Outdoors!
Understanding Frostbite
Post-Hiking Pain
The Power of Ice
Five Life Skills for BackCountry Enjoyment
5 Things You Must Do If You Want To Create a FIrst Aid Kit For Your Family
(Dog)Basic First Aid
Be the hunter, not the hunted - Hunting Safety Tips everyone should know
Black Bear Chasing Kid Style

Water Tips

Are You Buying a Boat Check Out These Tips First
What You Need To Know Before You Sell Your Boat
Costa Rica White Water Rafting Trip
Enjoying Your Vacation in an RV
Kitesurfing Equipment Dangers

Skiing And Winter Fun

You Too Can Ski Down Mount Everest
The Ultimate Skiing Experience
Organize a Cat Skiing Trip, Ski at a Discount
One for Ten Cabin Fever in Haines Alaska
The Road to Expert Skiing
Blind Skiers See the Light
Skiing Exercises for Recreational Skiers
You Don't Have to Hurt Yourself to Snowboard
Fun Places To Go For A Family Snowboarding Holiday
Snowboard Girls Take Your Skills To The Next Level At Girls-Only Camps
Alpine Snowboarding

Skatesailing “ The Ice Age
A Look at The Intriguing History of Snowboarding

Photography Tips

Photography Contest - a Fun and Rewarding Experience
7 Things You Must Do If You Want To Make That Perfect Camera Shot
Nine tips for taking great digital photographs
Have You Read Your Digital Camera Manual?
Digital Camera Auto Exposure and Auto Focus
Digital Camera Macro Mode
Exposure Compensation
Reduce Red Eye
Scouting Cameras
Take Spectacular Nighttime Photos with your Digital Camera - Part I
Landscape Photography
Some Tips On How To Find The Right Camcorder

Fishing Tips

Making the most of your time - Fishing Safety rules everyone should know
Be Prepared!
Red Ear Sunfish
The Tackle Box of Quotes
Change Your Clocks
Uplevel Your Fishin' Rod For Power & Strength!
Photographing Your Trophy Fish
Finding Trophy Bass
Care And Repair Of Fishing Lures
Fiberglass Reproduction “Today's Answer to Taxidermy
6 Things You Must Learn If You Want The Secret To Catching More

Winter Trout Fly Fishing

Tell A Friend About This Page

© 2004 All Rights Reserved
162 Park Ave., Cambridge,
Ontario, Canada N1S 2S6
Phone: 1-519-740-3123