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They Will Eat You Alive!

The Upper Peninsula bug season  can occur from March through July causing some folks to seek shelter indoors and avoid these troublesome bugs!   The rest of us  outdoor enthusiast's forge ahead, bugs be damned, glad to head into the woods after a long winter/spring season.  It' s hard to determine which bugs we dislike more, mosquitoes or the dreaded black fly.


Mosquitoes are insects that have been around for more than 30 million years. And it seems that, during those millions of years, mosquitoes have been honing their skills so that they are now experts at finding people to bite. The feeding habits of mosquitoes are quite unique in that it is only the adult females that bite humans and other animals. The male mosquitoes feed mainly on plant juices.  Mosquitoes have a battery of sensors designed to track their prey, including:

  • Chemical sensors - mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide and lactic acid up to 100 feet (36 meters) away. Mammals and birds gives off these gases as part of their normal breathing. Certain chemicals in sweat also seem to attract mosquitoes (people who don't sweat much don't get nearly as many mosquito bites).
  • Visual sensors - if you are wearing clothing that contrasts with the background, and especially if you move while wearing that clothing, mosquitoes can see you and zero in on you. It's a good bet that anything moving is "alive", and therefore full of blood, so this is a good strategy.
  • Heat sensors - Mosquitoes can detect heat, so they can find warm-blooded mammals and birds very easily once they get close enough.

Something with this many sensors sounds more like a military aircraft than an insect. That's why mosquitoes are so good at finding and biting you. As we'll see later, the only way to stop these buggers from finding you is to confuse their chemical receptors with impenetrable clothing or with Bug Spray.

Upper Peninsula Mosquito

Black Fly

Like mosquitoes, black flies gain nourishment by living on the blood of other animals. It's just the females who do all of the damage by biting and feeding on blood: the males feed mainly on flower nectar. Unlike mosquitoes, black fly eggs are laid in moving water where the larvae attach to rocks using tiny hooks and survive under ice, waiting for the spring thaw. There, they pupate under water feeding on passing organic debris and emerge in a bubble of air as flying adults. When they hatch, they are often preyed upon by fish, such as trout. They live about 4-6 weeks, depending on species, temperature, and food supply

Upper Peninsula Black Fly


Sea To Summit Mosquito Headnet

When it's bug season, make the outdoors more enjoyable by protecting your head with this lightweight net. It's black mesh netting offers better visibility than white mesh and when not in use it folds down into a small pouch that fits in the palm of your hand!

  • Fine, 500 hole per square inch hexagonal mesh
  • Made of a soft multifilament polyester
  • Packaged in its own tiny stuff sack
  • Elasticized draw cord closure
  • Wide enough to wear with a hat or without
  • Also available in an Insect Shield® Permethrin treated model
  • Weight: 1.3oz
Sea to Summit Headnet

Outdoor Research Spring Headnet

This no-see-um headnet gives you reliable insect protection without the chemicals. The collapsible metal hoop holds the mesh away from your face. A drawcord neck closure prevents the tiniest pests from entering your air space and it collapses into a pocket for easy storage.  Perfect for trudging trough Mulligan Swamp!

Outdoor Research Spring Headnet

NATRAPEL Lemon Eucalyptus

Looking for a more natural way to keep the bugs off? Natrapel's plant based repellant effectively repels mosquitoes and is pleasant to use! A DEET-free insect repellent, Natrapel won’t damage synthetic materials and is safe to use on gear and clothing, plus its cool, refreshing scent and non-greasy formula make Natrapel a great bug spray for kids.

NATRAPEL Lemon Eucalyptus

Ben's 100

Ben's® 100 Tick & Insect Repellent is the perfect solution to staying 'bite free' in a insect populated environment.  As anyone knows who has been in the woods for awhile, nothing ruins an outing more than biting and stinging insects.   Ben's 100 Max is one of the longest lasting DEET formulas available from any manufacturer and is recommended for use in areas of heavy insect infestation. Ben's Tick & Insect Repellent is so effective, there is no need to keep reapplying. Use just enough to cover exposed skin and apply to clothing. It is simply one of the best and strongest insect repellents available.

Ben's 100 insect repellent