Mosquitoes, Flies, or Bees, which one would you pick to annoy and harass you when you are out camping? We already knew that we would encounter a lot of mosquitoes on the East Coast given that it typically has more rain than the West Coast. When we heard that New England got a record amount of rain during the spring and early summer, we knew we needed to be prepared: we bought mosquito net hat, mosquito backpack cover, and a couple of fold-away food covers to go along with the car seat mosquito cover we already owned (see the picture below with Bryden in the infant car seat).
The trip started out well. In Nevada and Utah, there weren’t many flies or mosquitoes, probably because it was almost like a desert there. By the time we got to Iowa, mosquitoes had become vicious. Even when it was hot, we had to put on long sleeve shirt and long pants during dinner time; otherwise, we would be eaten alive. Although we brought two different kinds of insect repellant, we didn’t use them much yet (to avoid any chemical, DEET free or not) , relying on mosquito net hat, mosquito net car seat cover, mosquito net child carrier to keep mosquitoes at bay. Mosquitoes are known to attract to heat (actually CO2), male, blood type O+ and black color. I happened to fit that category almost perfectly so I would routinely get a few bites each day. Luckily because of such mosquito magnet I was, the rest of the family were visited less often. I stopped counting when I reached 100 sometimes in July.
As we traveled east, we learned to pick camping spots which potentially would have fewer mosquitos, away from standing water but with some breeze (over 10 MPH wind, a condition mosquitoes do not fly well). Still, in some places such as New England, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec, mosquitoes were not only numerous and large but also would bite through 2 layers of clothing, that sometimes we abandoned eating outside or abandoned cooking altogether. We also started using insect repellant abundantly to some degrees of success. There was also the worry of West Nile Virus as we saw signs posted from time to time. It was a risk we took just like driving can lead of an accident but we all accept and drive nevertheless.
As we started heading back west, we started running into more and more flies. They were very annoying, buzzing around our heads and food all the time. Our fold-away food covers became indispensable (see the food cover toward the rear of the picnic table in the picture on the left). I remember while camping at Apostles National Lakeshore, I used an old map as a fly swapper and killed at least 30 of them. We also learned to put some food scraps about 10 feet away from our picnic tables to attract flies there. That helped. Eventually we had to buy a fly swapper as a weapon.
When we got to the west coast, we thought we had seen everything. Then we ran into a lot of bees at Memaloose State Park, Oregon. With flies and mosquitoes, we could always brush them away barehanded but we didn’t dare to do the same with bees. And we didn’t really want to kill them either so we had to quickly finish our food so they would go away.
So now, pick your poison.