- Jun 26, 2012 at 5:28 am #1291395
I have been using a tarp for several years, but, bugs at night have always been a headache. Especially on warmer summer nights, mosquitoes near wet areas can travel a ways to find you…sometimes as much as a quarter mile.
I have developed a layered defense against most bugs, averaging only one bite per 48 hour period, on average, even in black fly season. Usually while paddling, and during the day when they are most active. Deer flies are often nearly indefensible, but not out when there is no sun or very inactive.
1) Tarp – While primarily to protect me against rain/cold, it works fairly well as a barrier to bugs. However, they have a way of slipping under the edges and in any doorways you have setup.
2) Permethrin – This will stop most bugs, but is especially helpfull on clothing. While not really a repellant, bugs avoid it, anyway. I believe that instinct tells them it will kill them. Read warnings and decide for yourself.
3) DEET – On exposed skin, I use a drop or two and spread it around real good. Not Recommended, since it IS a carcinogen, but for many, a few times per year probably won't give you cancer. Read warnings and decide for yourself.
4) Clothing – long johns or the like will deter most biting bugs. Mosquitoes can bite through this layer if you give them a little time. I do not soak bottoms, socks or underwear in permethrin.
5) Sleeping Bag – Generally, a light sleeping bag is bug proof.
6) A small piece of mesh over my head in warm weather. This deters biting insects, but mosquitoes can bite through a lot of fabrics. Again, treated with permethrin, it does a good job, even if it is just getting even…bloody things. A small tent like structure can be tied up to a loop in the tarp with a pebble.
7) For very warm months, I bring a full mesh tent. This is a compromise between weight and utility. If I know I will be headed into wetter areas and nights will be warm, I bring it. This will also deter larger critters: spiders, scorpions, snakes, 'coons, etc. This is in place of the mesh piece over my head, which I often roll out of.
Durring the day, my long sleeved base layer top and hiking pants (both treated with permethrin) usually does the job well enough to avoid most bites. My hands often get washed clean, paddling. DEET needs to be reapplied fairly often (2-3 times per day)on canoe trips. My hat gets treated with permethrin, also. Then the brim gets a heavy coating of DEET. At night, the hat holds my pocket gear (knife, ID, glasses, etc) and placed near my head.
What do you use?Jun 26, 2012 at 5:47 am #1890160David GoodyearBPL Member
You pretty much have everything covered.
We use the same systems. Under tow, We use treated clothing with the exposed skin sprayed with DEET and we make sure the cuffs are tucked in. I added a tyvek floor to a mesh pyramid (treated with permethrin) to use under my tarp for the bad months.
The only thing that we add is that we burn pic coils to clear an area around you if you want to eat or socialize. We break them up into little pieces and position it to let the smoke loft around you or under a tarp to clear it. A two inch piece burns long enough for dinner. This is only used if it is really bad.
Permethrin is a godsend and we make our own dilution and spray our clothing before each trip.
DaveJun 26, 2012 at 7:47 am #1890182
Good Tip. I never used the coils…maybe I will try a couple. It seems like they would do at least as well as getting a small campfire going, probably much better.
I didn't forget about cigars/cigarettes, but most people don't smoke these days. They do chase off bugs pretty well. Especially on a portage when your hands are "tied up" with the canoe.Jun 26, 2012 at 10:11 am #1890249Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
When I first suggested using tarps to my wife she insisted on complete bug protection, i.e. bug net tents, so I made them along with the tarps. Now we take them unless we're sure there will be no bugs. They're a bit heavy but we don't care because they give complete protection.
Note that taking our 3-person tarp and net tent for just two of us on kayaking trips is a luxury. Finally, she recently insisted on perimeter bug netting on our very large pyramid tent, so I sewed about the longest netting perimeter you can imagine, about 18" wide by 45 feet!Jun 26, 2012 at 10:27 am #1890254Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
BTW, Bear Paw makes all sorts of excellent bug tents ( see http://www.bearpawwd.com )
I'm using a hammock with a built-in zippered bug net that is a joy. There's nothing like being zipped in and the bugs stuck outside :) Nyah nyah!
I use small amounts of DEET on hands, neck, ears and legs if I'm wearing shorts. I think permethrin is fine on loose outer clothing. It works great on a bandana just tied around my neck or as a "pirate hat".Jun 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm #1890281Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
My main shelters have always been tarps. I don't own a net. And I don't put up the tarp unless it is going to rain, and usually there aren't any bugs out when it is raining. Perhaps the bugs are worse where you hike than where I hike, but seems people stress over bugs in the high Sierras this time of year, and I just ignore them.
A head net or DEET is adequate for me.Jun 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm #1890324
Yeah, I don't worry too much about bugs, but sometimes at night they are exceptionally annoying. Blackflies are very bad in spring, but, I seem to manage them OK. Sometimes the mosquitoes are bad enough to carry you away, though…even after a fresh application of DEET.
Thanks again!Jun 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm #1890367Elliott WolinBPL Member
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
I think we just do not like using DEET, although we carry it if there's a chance for bugs. Maybe this is why we always bring a net tent for our tarp. Also, we do a lot of hiking in the Adirondacks and White Mountains.
We also carry bug nets for our heads although we've rarely used them.Jun 29, 2012 at 10:24 am #1891083
My thanks to everyone. As I suspected, mostly I handle bugs about the best way available under a terp. I am off for 6 days doing a yoyo of the NFCT between Old Forge and Forked Lake. We plan to relax and enjow the sights and scenery. I have a new canoe for the trip but was wondering about all the bugs around Brown Tract Inlet and Tioga Point with my daughter. Thanks again!Jul 4, 2012 at 9:15 am #1892186Peter BakwinBPL Member
We're hiking the JMT late Aug / early Sept. Are we likely to encounter mosquitos? I've hiked in the area before, but earlier in August, and we did sometimes have mosquitos, especially at lower elevations. Trying to decide if we need nets for our tarps.Jul 5, 2012 at 4:14 am #1892336
"We're hiking the JMT late Aug / early Sept. Are we likely to encounter mosquitos? I've hiked in the area before, but earlier in August, and we did sometimes have mosquitos, especially at lower elevations. Trying to decide if we need nets for our tarps."
Generally, the bloody biters don't maintain activity around 50F. If nights start getting warm you could have trouble with them, though. Watch the weather forcasts and average temps for the time you will be headed out.
We just got back last night and got two bites for the whole trip. Permethrin, DEET and reasonable skin cover seem to do the trick, OK.Jul 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm #1892886Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Well, after many years of enforced tarping (B/C of lack of funds) as a callow youth I am now happily a tenter. My TT Moment keeps bugs out just fine.
Lessee, canopy, netting, floor = 28 oz. for a TT Moment.
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