It’s Hungry Out There

A member of our camping group sips a drink with supper while trying to remain under the protection of her headnet. Six of us were camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness last week, where mosquitoes and blackflies were persistent.

Buggy trip
Six of us spent five days in the canoe country north of Lutsen and Brule Lake last week. It was a good trip, but the bugs were a factor, as we had expected. Mosquitoes were abundant, and blackflies were present and persistent at times. Headnets were the rule for portages and much of the time in camp. And this was despite the fact that it was fairly breezy for three of our five days.

With all the rain we had received earlier this summer, we expected mosquitoes to be a problem. Mosquito eggs, as I understand it, can survive for several years, waiting for water to cover them so mosquitoes can hatch. I don’t know how many years’ worth are hatching this summer, but plenty.

Blackflies hatch from tiny sacs that cling to rocks in moving water. I know that blackflies pollinate blueberry bushes, so there’s a purpose for them in the greater scheme of things. I just sometimes wonder if we need quite that many blackflies to get the job done.

Dealing with bugs is a challenge. Repellent works to a certain extent, especially on mosquitoes, though some people don’t like putting those kinds of chemicals on their skin. Headnets hold the little vermin at bay, although it’s warm inside the nets, and the world looks a little dingy through the mesh. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts help, too.

Trips in the canoe country are no doubt more difficult when bugs are present, but, for me at least, they don’t ruin a trip. It’s still well worth getting out there in all except the most extreme cases. Traveling by paddle and pack, listening to loons, watching the occasional eagle dive to pluck a fish from the water, lying in the tent listening to a rousing thunderstorm — all of that makes canoe-country trips worthwhile even when the bugs are pesky.