Brooks range (/Alaska) bug reports/predictions 2021
Jun 4, 2021 at 9:02 am #3717126Bjorn WBPL Member
I was reading a thread from March about bugs; someone said to check back as the summer approached.
Grateful for any information or predictions or news! I’ll be up there from June 12 through July 22, but I hope others will find this thread useful, too.Jun 10, 2021 at 9:02 am #3718007Bjorn WBPL Member
Anyone been out there yet this year? Thanks in advance for any info.Jun 11, 2021 at 1:04 am #3718091David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Geoff PM’ed me the same question. Here’s a cut&paste of my response to him:
Down here in Kenai, the mosquitos have been a little worse than average. Down here, certainly, and to the extent I was tracking temps statewide, winter 2020-2021 got cold and stayed cold. Karen who is pretty active on BPL lives in Fairbanks and could give a more local data point. That means more bugs the next year compared to multiple freeze-thaw cycles (think freezer-burnt meat) that seems to kill off the eggs from last year). The bad news (for you, with that report from that pilot) is that when the early species are good or bad in April/May the later species in June/July/august are also high
So definitely you want mosquito head nets along with you (and I’d bring one extra between the four of you since they’re light but important) and have a compatible hat under it to keep the netting off your face/head.
One summer out of me 23 down here, I wanted gloves for the back of my hands. Those conditions happen more often on the North Slope (my fishing buddy did security on the pipeline for some years).
I’ve compared lemon eucalyptus oil versus DEET on a beach in New Zealand, counting mosquitos and biting flies on each leg and the LEO did better than the DEET. I’d bring both in your case (redundancy and options based on your experience).
I haven’t tried permethrin-treating my clothing (but others on BPL do that and seem to think it’s worth it). I’ve got a few shirts that claim to be factory treated, and *maybe* they work a bit better, but I haven’t done a side-by-side.
What I have compared, many times, is dark versus light clothing. Say, standing around outside at a Solstice party in the evening and past midnight, I’ll count the number of mosquitos on different people’s backs and it will vary 5-fold between the darkest (most mosquitos) to the lightest clothing. Maybe dark clothing looks more like a moose or bear? Certainly it emits more infrared. So my summer-time pants and shirts are pale blue, very light tan, etc.
Speaking of shirts and pants, I never go off trail in my part of Alaska without long pants and a LS shirt in 100% nylon (tough, dries quick) along with me – usually a fishing shirt with a traditional collar for a little more neck protection for any bush-whacking. I might wear shorts and a t-shirt, but I have those long options with me. That 20 miles I did in the Brooks Range had some spruce to bash through and some alders. No devil’s club that I recall. So it wasn’t as bad as getting from the treeline to above the bushline down here.
In addition to the usual micro-climate considerations for where to camp (not at the lowest spot, but 20 feet higher in elevation for warmer air, amongst trees when you can for wind break and IR benefit, etc); I’d factor in the bugs, too. Then you’re looking for windy spots and to get away from standing water, trees, bushes and high ground cover.
After 20 years of part-time engineering work, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse, and am now working 9-5 in Kenai so I’m doing far fewer road trips past Denali and on to Fairbanks for my former toxic-waste sites. Which is to say it’s very unlikely I could do any trail-angel Uber things this summer like I did for Manfred on his trip.
Hope the trip goes well. I’m not sure about access and quarantines in the villages along your route. I was in Adak last week, and they’d taken it very seriously (89% of locals vaccinated, which is huge for Alaska) and pre-registration required before flying in, but they’re relaxing about that. Sometime in the last 10 days, everyone in Kenai decided they’re just done with masks. The local Walmart went from 75-80% masked to 5% of us just as the tourists showed up.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.