Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Chris and I decided to try hiking the part of the Ganaraska trail north of County Rd 45, across from the Sommerville Tract trails we did in the early spring.  We'd hoped to make it to the Goodoar lakes for a bit of a picnic then head back to the car.

First off...finding the trail was a bit of a challenge.  I knew we'd have to go down the road a bit, but we ended up getting sidetracked by an ATV trail and headed down it to explore for a bit.  According to one map I have, the Ganaraska has two options for north of Rd 45, and since the ATV trail gate had a Ganaraska symbol on their sign, we thought it might be the one shown.  There were none of the white flashes usually used to mark the trail though, so we weren't sure.

We never got far enough down the trail to see if it did join with the other leg.  Actually, I'm surprised we even got out of the car.  As soon as we pulled into the parking area, the car was swarmed.  I seriously thought we'd disturbed a hornets nest or something, but it was deer flies.  It was crazy.  I've never in my life seen that many deer flies.

Chris had a hoodie in the car and I grabbed a spare t-shirt left in the back seat after a recent trip to the beach, and used it to cover my head.  It was brutal.  There were so many deer flies on the back of Chris's hood, it looked like he'd been hit on the back of the head with a  ball of mud the size of a baseball, and the cloud of them circling was insane.  I would have taken pictures but I needed both my hands to hold the t-shirt tightly to over my head.

It was rather disappointing.  I thought I'd handled all the possible issues we might have, I'd brought maps so we didn't get lost, I had the GPS, extra water...okay so I forgot to wear decent shoes and only had my $4 Walmart flip-flops on, but I never considered the deer flies would be that bad.  Mosquitoes, sure...even a few deer flies, but over 50 of them on each of our heads, plus swarms buzzing around us? Not so much.

The problem with deer and horse flies is that bug spray doesn't even faze them.  I did a bit of research online to see what other outdoors enthusiasts recommend and found a huge range of possible solutions...

1 - wear a feather on top of your hat...the flies swarm the highest point (usually your head) so they go for the feather rather than your can also use a fern if there are any nearby.

2 - make loops of duct tape with the sticky side out and stick them all over your hat.  The deer flies land...get stuck and are no longer a problem.

3 - bug hats and suits.  These work until the flies realize they can't get a meal from your head and start searching out exposed spots like hands and ankles.  Really, if they are bad enough to warrant full body covering, including gloves, you might just want to stay inside.  Deer flies like the heat, so chances are it'd be way to hot to be covered head to toe.

4. One person suggested taping a blue plastic cup to your hat that has been painted with the kind of sticky bug trap goo you get on those dangly fly strips.  She tried it out and it worked well for her, but I gotta say, I'd feel pretty silly walking around with a cup taped to my hat.

Probably the best solution is to avoid areas where deer flies are happiest.  The females lay their eggs in swampy areas, but for feeding, deer flies prefer hot, dry weather and are usually found where the terrain is sand or gravel.  Of course, that means you'll miss out on a lot of hiking, canoeing and general fun.

Anyone else have any solutions for dealing with deer flies?

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