Black Fly Protective Head Gear

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Cruise
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Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by Cruise » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:40 am

My wife and I will be visiting a region of Canada known for its black flies that like to nibble on humans. The last time we were in that region, my wife ended up in an emergency room as she developed such a bad allergic reaction that her lymph nodes became very swollen.

I've heard some suggest a type of headgear that covers the face in netting, providing a barrier against being bitten by the flies. Can anyone suggest a type or brand that will keep the flies away?

Any other advice for warding off the bites of these flies?

Many thanks!

The Wizard
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by The Wizard » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:58 am

I would check LL Bean to start with...
Attempted new signature...

livesoft
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by livesoft » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:06 am

Besides a bug head net, I would suggest permethrin-treated clothing, in particular, socks (knee highs), and a neck gaiter (buff).

Read about Canadian restrictions on permethrin:
https://canadianrockiestrailguide.com/t ... hypocrisy/

A long-sleeve shirt with collar would also be helpful. Don't forget a hat (wide-brimmed, with neck strap) and possibly gloves.

In the US, I have treated my bug net with permethrin, too.

Will she bring benadryl or equivalent?
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Finridge
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by Finridge » Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:14 am

Whatever you end up getting, make sure to supplement it by also using permethrin and/or DEET. Permethrin works best if you build up a "critical mass" by applying it to a lot of your clothing/fabrics. If you do some research, you can find 10% solutions on Amazon that are suitable for use if properly diluted. This is very cost-effective, but do your research first...

jebmke
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by jebmke » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:34 am

We have a lot of biting flies at various times of the year - deer flies, black flies and green heads.

I have never found deet to be effective for repelling biting flies.

When we go into a heavily infested area birding I wear two layers - especially the shirt. Flies can bite through a thin shirt.

Don't forget the hands; I use sun gloves which work pretty well and also protect the hands from sun exposure (sun block tends to get wiped off the hands).

Avoid wearing blue clothing. For some reason, flies are attracted to blue.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

dowse
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by dowse » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:00 am

There is an upper body covering called Bug Baffler. Just google it to find it at Amazon, etc.

I've had a lot of experience trying to fight the infernal little creatures through many years of spring fishing trips to Maine.

Here are my tips for dealing with them:

1. Cool/cold weather, rainy weather and darkness are your friends. They don't come out until the temp. reaches the 50's, and they don't come out in the rain. Cool, damp weather is your friend. They go away when it gets dark.

2. They don't like indoor structures. They don't tend to follow you inside. When camping, a screen house for food preparation and relaxation is a life-saver.

3. There are various myths about certain creams and lotions having some affect. Plenty of homespun products that don't work. There used to be a myth about Avon Skin-so-Soft. A total myth! The only repellants that have any significant affect are those that contain DEET. Repellants with 100% DEET are very effective, but unfortunately are very harsh on the skin and tend to dissolve synthetic materials like Gortex, fishing rods, etc. I've found a compromise of 30% DEET is somewhat effective, and it is much less harmful.

4. I've heard that they are more attracted to dark clothing, but I'm not too sure about that one.

5. They don't like smoke. Unfortunately your body doesn't like smoke either. When camping, sometimes you can find a good position near a campfire. I know it's not for everybody, but cigars help fend them off.

6. Wear turtlenecks and long sleeves, but not the button-type sleeves as they leave an opening that they will absolutely find.

They are horrible creatures, and difficult to deal with. To treat bites, a stick of After Bite helps. Also, Benedryl cream.

That said, it can still be worth it all to enjoy the outdoors.

jebmke
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by jebmke » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:59 am

dowse wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:00 am
To treat bites, a stick of After Bite helps. Also, Benedryl cream.
In heavily infested areas, when I know that no matter how well I prepare I'm going to get bitten, I sometimes take a Benadryl in advance.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

hicabob
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by hicabob » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:29 am

You need super fine mesh to keep them out if they are like the Adirondack black flies (aka no-see-ums)

https://www.outdoorresearch.com/us/en/d ... 3770999222

livesoft
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by livesoft » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:38 am

hicabob wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:29 am
You need super fine mesh to keep them out if they are like the Adirondack black flies (aka no-see-ums)

https://www.outdoorresearch.com/us/en/d ... 3770999222
That's the one to get! It will keep mesh from touching your skin which is important because otherwise black flies will bite where the net touches the skin. It is unclear if the hat pictured comes with the net; I don't think it does, but it is the kind of hat I mentioned in my first post.

BTW, permethrin does not repel flies or other insects/ticks, but if they spend too much time on permethrin-treated clothing, then they get confused enough they forget to bite, and if they stay longer, they get poisoned enough to die.

I prefer time-release DEET for repelling duties. It does not all evaporate quickly, so lower concentration last longer in my experiences.
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123
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by 123 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:09 am

Cruise wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:40 am
...The last time we were in that region, my wife ended up in an emergency room as she developed such a bad allergic reaction that her lymph nodes became very swollen...
With that type of severe reaction I would she would be better off avoiding any areas that had black flies. Protective clothing and repellents don't guarantee complete protection. Why would you want to subject her to that again?
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

dowse
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by dowse » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:58 pm

123 wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:09 am
Cruise wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:40 am
...The last time we were in that region, my wife ended up in an emergency room as she developed such a bad allergic reaction that her lymph nodes became very swollen...
With that type of severe reaction I would she would be better off avoiding any areas that had black flies. Protective clothing and repellents don't guarantee complete protection. Why would you want to subject her to that again?
I have to say I had that question too. It is amost impossible to avoid getting at least one bite in black fly country during the height of their season. By the way, a rough rule of thumb for their "season" is from Mother's Day to Father's Day in Northern New England. I've found that to be as good an approximation as any. That said, some stragglers linger on into the summer.

brandy
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by brandy » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:12 pm

google Tanglefoot and deer flies or, just Tanglefoot, and read the reviews.A lot tell of help with a variety of flies/insects in gardens and around people...
brandy

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Bruce
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by Bruce » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:00 pm

I saw "insect shield" impregnated labeled clothing on an Ex Officio brand hat and shirt in an REI store, and bought them on a whim before heading to the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge on a 10 day float and fishing trip. That wet tundra river drainage and permafrost area of the country can charitably be described as "bug hell" in summer. I fully expected I would try the hat and shirt out, find it ineffective and return it to REI after the trip if it did not live up to its name.

Instead, after getting dropped off in a mountain lake by a floatplane, and pausing to admire the migrating caribou herd rippling across a distant hillside, we loaded up and then headed out on a long slog of a portage across the tundra with all our gear. The first day when the breeze on the tundra died down, the flies and mosquitoes rose up in waves and tried to chew right through my untreated pants, but left my head and upper body alone because of this treated fabric clothing.

I was amazed the clothing was comfortable, breathable, and even though the bugs continued to be around in significant numbers, this clothing was so effective I never had to put on insect repellant the entire trip (wore waders over the pants most of the time on the river). Since I very much dislike the chemical taste and smell of DEET formulated insect repellants, I was very glad to be able to avoid using repellant, even in this bug infested area. The clothing seemed expensive when I bought it but turned out it was worth every cent and then some.

Several vendors sell clothing impregnated with the insectshield process now; search at LL Bean, REI , Ex Offico among others for the variety of clothing products, protective hoodies, neck and head buffs, hats and scarfs available.

learn much more at
https://www.insectshield.com/

I still have the hat and shirt years later, and they still work after washing, though I have retreated it with spray on permethian from REI since then. Permethian is a plant and flower that grows in Africa and has some natural insecticide and repellant properties.

The company also offers a service where you send in your own clothes to be processed with the permethian. More on that at
https://www.insectshield.com/ISYOC.aspx
The Insect Shield process binds a proprietary permethrin formula tightly to fabric fibers—resulting in effective, odorless insect protection that lasts the expected lifetime of apparel.

Also recommend a preventive benadryl type product to minimize swelling from any bites that may slip through. Gloves and a head net should be in your pockets, the boat and your backpack as well as a precaution.

This protective clothing can make all the difference between an enjoyable trip and an exercise in misery.

regards
Bruce | | Winner of the 2017 Bogleheads Contest | | "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

lightheir
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by lightheir » Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:23 pm

You can do the same thing as 'insect shield' for much cheaper by just buying a big jug of Permethrin on amazon ($50ish) and dunking/spraying your hiking clothes in them and drying out of the sun. Use clothes that will be really permeated with it - you're not going to just spray the outside. If properly treated, this treatment should allegedly retain enough Permethrin for 6 laundry cycles (I haven't tested this myself, but that's what all the internet and product descriptions say.)

The mesh suits work, but they get really uncomfortably hot in any direct sun. I had a whole body set, and it def worked for flies, but even in cool weather, the sun heated it up so much that I was sweating a storm and just had to get it off. The netting would probably would great for dusk/night hiking though where sun is not an issue.

I treated all my clothes in Canada 'bug hell' but found that the most important factors were for me, in order of importance:

- #1 (by farrrr) : Multiple clothing layers, long sleeve/pants. This alone will spare you 90% of the misery, even if completely untreated. Sure, this can get hottish on warm days in sun, but it actually stays cooler (by a lot) than the micronet suit setups.

- DEET or Picaridin regularly on exposed areas. This will cover the remaining 10%. use the good hardcore stuff, and apply a lot.

- The permethrin spray on clothing only helps a SMALL amount - the blackflies etc in Canada are so aggressive that they will not be permanently repelled - they will land on your clothing, not like it, jump off, but attack again and again. They managed to find a <1 inch spot on my elbow that I'd undertreated and stung me like 5x there in <15 mins. Don't expect permethrin to create a magic force field around you - the bugs in Canada will be relentless even if they're not actually crawling on your clothes.

Topic Author
Cruise
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by Cruise » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:52 pm

OP here. Many thanks to all who offered great recommendations and wonderful advice! Very much appreciated.

For those wondering why we would knowingly venture into fly hell with such a bad previous experience: We are going to a different part of Canada than before, and did not know that the flies would be a problem there. Our Canada trip is a small portion of a much larger itinerary, and we are are not going to pull out of it just because of flies.

Thanks again for the great tips.

SmallSaver
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by SmallSaver » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:02 am

OP, no recommendations on specific brands, other than to get something with a fine enough mesh. In my experience, when bugs get really bad, the trick is to cover up completely: pants tucked into your socks, long sleeves tucked into gloves, collared shirt tucked into pants with the collar up, and a headnet. The key to the headnet is to wear a hat under it to keep the mesh off your skin, otherwise the critters will bite right through it (one reason those mesh shirts don't do much for me). On top of that, you can get some high-powered DEET and spray that on your clothes (I've always been leery of 90% DEET straight on my skin). If your wife has a history of allergic reaction she can take some benadryl beforehand, and I (personally) would for sure look into carrying an EpiPen with me. Have fun! She's a trooper to take another swing at things.

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Bruce
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Re: Black Fly Protective Head Gear

Post by Bruce » Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:29 am

One other idea if your mode of travel allows for it.

It can be enormously satisfying to have one of those plastic battery powered bug zapper type metal mesh rackets in camp, or stowed in your car, to hold back the flying hordes.

Your wife may enjoy the chance to refuse to be a victim of those biting insects this time, if she has a tool to fight back!
Bruce | | Winner of the 2017 Bogleheads Contest | | "Simplicity is the master key to financial success."

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