…is the dreaded blackfly. Yup, it’s Mother’s Day, and true to the adage, they’ve arrived (click here for a weekly mapped report). Not quite biting yet–for some reason, they usually wait until right around Memorial Day to do that, but they’re definitely in full annoyance mode. Bzzzz. Grrrr. And Father’s Day, the traditional close of blackfly season seems oh-so-far away. What’s a Maineah to do?
When I used to work in The Forks with rafting, most folks would swear by Avon Skin So Soft. I still chuckle when I remember those big burly guys doused up so sweet smelling. I wear a netted overtop (covers head, too) and overpants when working in the garden. I’ve also used Lewey’s, a Maine-made, all-natural bug dope based on a Native American recipe. Smells nice, but you have to reapply often. Very often. Ben’s and other bug dopes with Deet are very effective, but I worry about the chemicals.
Last June, when I was researching the new edition of Moon Maine in the Baxter State Park area, the flies were so thick, if you swatted at one, you’d hit 30 or so. Ugh. A park ranger suggested tucking Bounce dryer sheets both in my waistband and under a cap. He said it creates a “force field. They’ll swarm, but won’t get close enough to bite.”
Wanna know more about the little beasties? Maine Nature not only provides that weekly mapped report, but also a blackfly Q&A.
Of course, if you can’t beat ’em, enjoy ’em. The Maine Blackfly Breeders Association–slogan: We breed ’em you feed ’em–has a few suggestions of how to get the most out of the season. Hum the theme song, while wearing an official tee shirt or building your own blackfly village.
As the breeders say: May the swarm be with you.