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  1. #1
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    Default How bad are the bugs?

    I will be starting my 2014 thru-hike from Springer the first week of May. I am obviously taking the necessary precuations and preparing for the worst, but based on experience, how bad are the mosquitos, black flies, gnats, etc. throughout the course of the trail? I did a section hike of the 100 mile wildernes in Maine in mid august and rarely encountered any of the mosquitos or black flies that supposedly terrorize that section in June and July.

  2. #2

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    Mosquitos are quite location dependent. Thier only bad if you happen to camp near a pond or stagnet water. Central Mass is a bit swampy and the sketters there can be quite thick. But thier mostly a problem a night, when your in your tent anyway. For some reason, they seem to stay mostly out of shelters too.

    There is some bug down south which I call "want-a-be black flies". They look a lot like our northern ones, but don't seem to be as aggressive or bite as much as ours do. However, the no-see-ums can be quite annoying at times.

    If you wear shorts, the chiggers can be the worst. Rub up against the wrong brush and you'll soon think you have heat rash, but it's those little buggers burrowing into your skin and multiplying like crazy. I really hate chiggers, most other bugs don't bother me much - except ticks. Your most likely to run into the chiggers in the mid atlantic states.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Mosquitos are quite location dependent. Thier only bad if you happen to camp near a pond or stagnet water. Central Mass is a bit swampy and the sketters there can be quite thick. But thier mostly a problem a night, when your in your tent anyway. For some reason, they seem to stay mostly out of shelters too.

    There is some bug down south which I call "want-a-be black flies". They look a lot like our northern ones, but don't seem to be as aggressive or bite as much as ours do. However, the no-see-ums can be quite annoying at times.

    If you wear shorts, the chiggers can be the worst. Rub up against the wrong brush and you'll soon think you have heat rash, but it's those little buggers burrowing into your skin and multiplying like crazy. I really hate chiggers, most other bugs don't bother me much - except ticks. Your most likely to run into the chiggers in the mid atlantic states.
    Thanks for the heads up!

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    I hate mosquitos!!! I can stand the cold, the wet, the heat, but mosquitos are the one thing that would drive me off the trail. I found it worse in NJ, NY, CT and MA. But I was through there in late June/July. Since you're starting in May, you might come through after the "season". For your sake, I hope so. Good luck on your thru.

  5. #5
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eghama View Post
    I hate mosquitos!!! I can stand the cold, the wet, the heat, but mosquitos are the one thing that would drive me off the trail. I found it worse in NJ, NY, CT and MA. But I was through there in late June/July. Since you're starting in May, you might come through after the "season". For your sake, I hope so. Good luck on your thru.
    I was close to your time frame. I had never seen mosquitos that bad. I was driven off the trail on a couple days. It was hell.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

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    Only real bug problem I had this year was in CT and So MA, skeeters, you had to hike at almost a full run to avoid them landing on you. Some hikers could not hike fast enough, some may be never heard from again. But past that and before that no problem, the occasional bug, but not like that. All in all just part of the trail and something you adapt to.

  7. #7

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    For me the knats were the worst. They have no respect for Deet.

  8. #8
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    Didnt get bit once in all of Georgia and lower NC in Late April/Early May.... didnt use anything either.

    Higher you camp, the less you'll get bit too.

  9. #9

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    Mosquitos didn't really bother me, neither did the ticks (although there were quite a few hikers I hiked with this year who contracted Lyme Disease). The tiny little flies that made a bee line for your eyes though, they made my life hell. Invariably they would fly, innocently around your head and then, when you were fording a stream and needed to see where you were planting your feet *BAM* they would dive bomb and land right in my eyes.
    Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time -- Steven Wright

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stink Bug View Post
    Mosquitos didn't really bother me, neither did the ticks (although there were quite a few hikers I hiked with this year who contracted Lyme Disease). The tiny little flies that made a bee line for your eyes though, they made my life hell. Invariably they would fly, innocently around your head and then, when you were fording a stream and needed to see where you were planting your feet *BAM* they would dive bomb and land right in my eyes.
    I hear ya SB.... but what about Stink Bugs, did you encounter any of them on the trail?

  11. #11
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    In NJ on July 4th this year there was a swarm of mosquitoes at brink road shelter which rivaled any swarm I have ever seen. High point shelter that weekend was also a swamp and swarming. Both times I was forced to camp elsewhere. It was a hot day in a wet year at the worst possible month and with 100% DEET and strategically only taking breaks at roads or other clearings so that there was a bit of a breeze, I survived.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by HikerMom58 View Post
    I hear ya SB.... but what about Stink Bugs, did you encounter any of them on the trail?
    Haha, I honestly don't think I did!
    Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time -- Steven Wright

  13. #13
    Registered User gunner76's Avatar
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    Chiggers do not burrow into your skin.

    Chigger mites infest human skin via areas of contact with vegetation, such as pant cuffs or shirt sleeves and collars. They migrate on the skin in search of an optimal feeding area. A common myth about chiggers is that they burrow into and remain inside the skin. This is not true. Chiggers insert their feeding structures into the skin and inject enzymes that cause destruction of host tissue. Hardening of the surrounding skin results in the formation of a feeding tube called a stylostome. Chigger larvae then feed upon the destroyed tissue. If they are not disturbed (which is rarely the case because of they cause substantial itching) they may feed through the stylostome for a few days.
    The chigger's mouth and feeding structures are delicate and are best able to penetrate the skin at areas of wrinkles, folds, or other areas of skin that are thin. Most bites occur around the ankles, the crotch and groin areas, behind the knees, and in the armpits. Barriers to migration on the skin such as belts may be one reason that chigger bites also commonly occur at the waist or at other areas where their migration is prevented by compression from clothing
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  14. #14
    Thru-hiker 2013 NoBo CarlZ993's Avatar
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    CT & MA were horrible on my hike in 2013. The 2 - 3 week period in June/July drove me nuts. Sure glad I had a head net. Yikes!

  15. #15
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    I hiked in the beginning of June. gnats were bad but I have lived in South Carolina, and my parents retired in southern Georgia, so I was used to them. Just kept blowing them away with the side of my mouth.... don't think it helped but it made me feel better!

    Chiggers were the worst. I wore shorts with OR ankle gaiters, and I had a "highway up my leg". They itched like crazy at night. When I start at the smokies this year I will rethink this and wear convertable pants. I hope that this may help. Deet 30% did not help.

    Ticks were not a problem for me. I sprayed my clothes with permethin (SP?) by sawyer. Did a tick check every night, no problem.

    Chiggers really stink!!

  16. #16

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    how long is a piece of string? depending on when and where, some will eat you, some will annoy you, some will lay larvae in you eyes. calorie wise, i say eat them whenever possible, every bite counts

  17. #17
    CDT - 2013, PCT - 2009, AT - 1300 miles done burger's Avatar
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    Starting in May, you should miss blackfly season in the northeast. Mosquitoes depend on how wet the spring is along the trail. In June of '06, we got many, many inches of rain in the Mid-Atlantic. The mosquitoes in New Jersey were literally the worst I've ever seen--and I've spent an entire summer outdoors in Louisiana swamp. Hikers were crying. I actually got off the trail for a few days and skipped a section in New Jersey. I didn't come back to finish it until November.

    Oddly, CT and MA were mostly fine in '06. I can only remember a couple of bad spots.

  18. #18

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    When and where are the black flies most prevalent? Starting in mid March

  19. #19
    Registered User Drybones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HikerMom58 View Post
    I hear ya SB.... but what about Stink Bugs, did you encounter any of them on the trail?
    I never encountered stink bugs.....but many stink hikers.

  20. #20
    Registered User Drybones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glljackson View Post
    When and where are the black flies most prevalent? Starting in mid March
    I started 3/12/12 and had a fly issue for maybe a week or so about my second week out. They didn't bite, just wanted to fly into my right ear, didn't understand why they left the left ear alone.

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