Bumps. Welts. Red splotches. Itchy spots.
If this is your body after an outdoor outing, you need help. No matter what you do, you can’t completely eliminate the creeping, crawling, flying pests. However, the following tips will at least decrease the number of offenses you suffer and the amount of liquid refreshment you donate to the nasty little suckers.
Get that woodsy smell as soon as possible. Bees and bugs are attracted to strong fragrances, so avoid using soaps, lotions, shampoos, and colognes. Forgo the deodorant before heading into the woods.
Be aware of the colors you wear. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, especially blue. Pick beige or other neutral colors for hiking clothes.
Learn to recognize places that are popular with bugs. Look before you sit down to make sure you’re not about to take a break on an anthill. Ticks gather on tall grasses and overhanging brush, yellow jackets nest in the ground, flies hover around animals, and mosquitoes like cool, moist places. (Ladies, you’ll be gratified to know studies show that mosquitoes prefer men. Bring along your boyfriend, husband, or other member of the opposite sex and watch the bugs go for him instead of you.)
Be aware of the times of day bugs will be most active. Black flies are busiest in the morning, mosquitoes just after sunrise and before sunset, and deer flies during midday. (If you happen to be in a place where all of these are present at the same time—good luck!)
Use clothing to cover your skin. Some authorities suggest wearing long sleeves and pants year-round. Of course, it can get mighty hot and humid wearing those clothes during a southern Appalachian summer, so if you hike in a T-shirt and shorts, bring along repellent. (I’ll be discussing various repellent options in a future posting.)
Check yourself and your hiking partners for ticks and/or bites. In the case of deer ticks, which are the source of Lyme disease, the thing you are looking for could be as small as the period at the end of this sentence. Treat a bite with hydrogen peroxide and watch for a bulls-eye rash or flu-like symptoms. The presence of either should prompt a visit to your doctor.
The long days of summer are made for outings in the woods. Just be prepared and don’t let the little buggers get to you.