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Old Friday 10th September 2004, 14:19   #1
Larry Lade
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Birding and Nuisance Insects

I believe that we have the worst annoying insects in the state of Missouri than anywhere else in the world! Some of the offenders are "no see 'ems" (gnats), mosquitos, deer flies, house flies, horse flies, sweat bees, ticks and the worst one for me chiggers. These unpleasant creatures seem to bother some people more than others. Must be a body chemistry thing!

I was wondering if any of you are bothered with this insect problem when you go afield on your birding forays? Although I was forewarned of a possible problem with insects when travelling abroad, I was not particularly bothered with insects when we went to Costa Rica or Kenya. But, Missouri is a different story.

I have tried various sprays, lotions and powders to ward off these various insects. I have found the best solution for me is to dust a little sulphur powder around my ankles, waist and neck. This seems to keep most of the annoying little critters at bay! Sulphur is not the most pleasant smelling substance though, so I do not always apply it when I go out birding. If I walk through a weedy patch I usually pay the price with multiple chigger bites which tend to be very itchy and sometimes fester causing additional discomfort.

If you have insect problems, what are some of your remedies and solutions?
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Old Friday 10th September 2004, 14:29   #2
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Hi Larry, I know the problem well and agree that personal chemistry is a factor...some people get bitten, when others don't.

I've tried lots of sprays/repellents, generally DEET based at various percentages. The one I've found most effective is sold at Walmart and is called REPEL Insect Block (Sportsmen Formula) which has a relatively low 29% DEET.

This one works for me, so if you haven't already, give it a try; being sold in Walmart means it's also comparatively cheap.
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Old Friday 10th September 2004, 16:01   #3
Andrew Whitehouse
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You should try the Scottish Highlands in summer, Larry. There's a different beastie for every sort of occasion - clegs, ticks and of course midges. I've never managed to entirely repel any of these fellows (they seem to like me).
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Old Friday 10th September 2004, 16:08   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Whitehouse
You should try the Scottish Highlands in summer, Larry. There's a different beastie for every sort of occasion - clegs, ticks and of course midges. I've never managed to entirely repel any of these fellows (they seem to like me).
I've travelled widely, and I've never had as much grief off any insect as the highland midge. Smoke seems to be the only thing that puts them off.....
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Old Friday 10th September 2004, 18:05   #5
Larry Lade
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I have not been to Scotland so do not know if it is worse or not as bad as some the places to which I have been. I have heard of midges, but I thought that they were rather innocuous (something that fish feed on). I will have to look up a definition of what they are exactly! [Or our they newly hatched mosquitoes?]

I believe our northern tier of states, Canada, Alaska and possibly the Arctic region might perhaps be the worse place for people to be in the summer months due to the insect populations. Particularly bad, I think, may be the mosquitoes (I spelled it correctly, this time)! I remember a fishing trip we went on up at Lake of the Woods in southern Canada a few years back. As the sun began to set the mosquitoes just descended upon us and almost devoured us.
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Old Friday 10th September 2004, 18:12   #6
Larry Lade
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I just looked up "midge" from google and found 310,000 references. I think I get the idea! One reference which I looked at reported that the "highland midge" was one of the worst when it came to people being bitten!
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Old Friday 10th September 2004, 18:38   #7
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Thankfully in Ireland, midges are the only real distraction when birding and they can be quite annoying but the worst I have seen apart from mozzies which i detest are the sandflies of New Zealand. These guys bite and draw blood and for such a small insect they are quite ferocious. Don't miss them for one second!!!!

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Old Friday 10th September 2004, 23:30   #8
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Larry,
Besides putting repellent on any exposed skin, I also douse my shoes/socks/pant legs, waistband, and collar with a spray repellent.

This works fairly good against chiggers (they LOVE me) and mosquitoes but not at all against the no see-ums. The only hope I've found for them is long sleeves/ gloves/ hat and face netting (hoods). Well, that and the more enjoyable option of birding from the car!
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Old Saturday 11th September 2004, 14:33   #9
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Larry, you aren't kidding about the insects in the northern tier of states. On my trip to eastern Idaho last week I saw just about the worst mosquitoes and biting flies that I've ever seen. Usually I am one of those who isn't bothered too much by the insects, but I found myself covered with bites from these particularly big nasty mosquitoes (they seem to be about twice the size of the mosquitoes that I'm used to). Having come down quite sick since I got back (I'm missing work today), I have to wonder about West Nile virus...guess I could look up the symptoms and find out. Still, even with the insects, it wasn't enough to spoil a fantastic couple of days of birding.
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Old Saturday 11th September 2004, 15:20   #10
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The chemical used on mosquito nets (Permethrin) is available as a ready mix powder in many camping shops and can be used to wash or (more easily) spray your clothes with. Once dry it is completely non-toxic to humans but persists on clothes for up to three washes. Works well for me and you can then supplement the protection with an insect repellant of your choice. I've also been told that there's a particular vitamin supplement you can take that makes you appetising to many biting insects but I don't recall which one it is I'm afraid.

I suspect that a lot of the apparent variation from one person to another is as much down to how your body reacts to bites rather than the number of bites you actually get, although having a slightly higher body temperature than men, women often suffer worst. For anyone who regularly suffers real irritation from bites I'd recommend anti-histamine tablets.

Having travelled quite widely in the tropics I've got to say that I've never had as much trouble from biting insects as I've had in North America!

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Old Saturday 11th September 2004, 16:06   #11
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the forestry workers here in scotland use AVONs Skin So Soft mousse. I've tried it and it worked.
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Old Saturday 11th September 2004, 20:09   #12
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In Shetland, a few weeks ago, some Southerners were trying baby lotion and vinegar mixed. The trick is don't breathe out carbon dioxide, and don't eat Bananas.


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Old Sunday 12th September 2004, 01:12   #13
Larry Lade
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The "baby lotion and vinegar mix" do you drink it or take a bath with it? lol

and

"don't breathe out carbon dioxide", very good Malky!

"bananas" ? (I suppose this attracts insects, drysophila melanogaster, right?)
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Old Monday 13th September 2004, 10:26   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billy
the forestry workers here in scotland use AVONs Skin So Soft mousse. I've tried it and it worked.
I've tried it too with mixed results....

The theory is that it doesn't repell the insects, but they can't penetrate the greasy barrier layer produced. The problem for me was that perspirartion seems to shift it quickly....
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Old Monday 13th September 2004, 13:46   #15
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I haven't found anything that repels mosquitoes that well, but Tiger Balm is great for stopping insect bites itching.

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Old Monday 13th September 2004, 20:07   #16
alcedo.atthis
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[quote=Larry Lade]The "baby lotion and vinegar mix" do you drink it or take a bath with it? lol

and

"don't breathe out carbon dioxide", very good Malky!

"bananas" ? (I suppose this attracts insects, drysophila melanogaster, right?)
Ehhhh. Heavy metal toxicity?? MMMMMmmm

Now Larry, no need to be facetious with such a serious subject!!

"Don't eat bananas during mosquito season--mosquitoes, midges love bananas! There is
something about how your body processes the banana oil that attracts these
female sugar-loving insects."


A little bit of information for your perusal and edification.

A few years ago in Austria, a group of scientists did some testing of the breath exhaled post eating, guess what, YES, Bananas.
They found many chemical compounds including 4Z-octenal and 5Z-octenal.
So what, you may ask.
Well, coincidentally, it now seems that the latest Mosquito/Midge control aparatus uses CO2 plus, guess again, yes Octenal.
It seems that the Octenal raises the attractant level of these insect traps.
You learn something new every day.
Triiinnnnggggg. Class dismissed.

Regards

Malky.

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Old Monday 13th September 2004, 21:43   #17
Larry Lade
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Malky, I was just curious as to how one "does not breathe out carbon dioxide"? This, I assumed, was an impossibility for a respirating human being.

I took your post to be half serious/half "josh"!
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Old Monday 13th September 2004, 22:40   #18
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no-one mentioned Leeches yet?

The curse of the orient!

worst i ever saw was Way Kanan in Sumatra. Absolutely crawling with them - my girlfriend ended up with 20 on one foot.

she also got a bot-fly in Mexico that didn't come out until a few weeks later.

Sandflies in South America can drive you nuts. And carry Leishmaniasis, which rots the flesh away.

Never had too much trouble with mossies but where they carry falciparum strain they can be fatal so it's always a bit of a worry.

A friend caught dengue when we were in Jakarta and that was quite unpleasant too.

Horse flies in Flow Country when i was on a survey drove me mental too - good job there was no-one for miles as i was shouting my head off and turning the air blue.
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Old Monday 13th September 2004, 23:45   #19
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'Skin so Soft' was originally sold by Avon as a skin lotion, but when folks found out how good it was for repelling mosquitoes, the largest sales started coming from the hardware stores that were reselling it as a repellent.
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Old Tuesday 14th September 2004, 01:52   #20
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I just hate leeches!!!!! Although they carry, to the best of my knowledge, no diseases, they are a bloody nuisance. Currently, it is the rainy season here and the forests are crawling with leeches.

For the nuisance factor, black flies are the worst I've experienced, drove me absolutely mad on a recent trip to Thailand.

Malaria, which I have had a few times, is not much fun, either:-((((
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Old Tuesday 14th September 2004, 19:56   #21
alcedo.atthis
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"Malky, I was just curious as to how one "does not breathe out carbon dioxide"? This, I assumed, was an impossibility for a respirating human being."

Exactly. If you breathe, then you will have problems. And it's not only humans. The ringers who do the birds in upper latitudes, Russia and elsewhere, will tell you about the clouds of Mossies around the beaks of sitting birds.
Also, the Lactic acid on our skin is the added attraction.
Bananas eaten, just happen to augment the attraction.

Best regards as always

Malky.

Ps, the Austrain paper was called, "Breath-by-breath analysis of banana aroma by proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry."
Dagmar Mayr, Tilman Mark, Werner Lindinger, Hugues Brevard, Chahan Yeretzian.

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Old Tuesday 28th September 2004, 13:44   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Lade
I believe our northern tier of states, Canada, Alaska and possibly the Arctic region might perhaps be the worse place for people to be in the summer months due to the insect populations.
Lapland (Kola Peninsula + Finnish, Swedish & Norwegian North) is known a place to avoid in June-July. I've followed that order, so my worst encounter with Culicidae takes place in Cajun wetlands. After dark, do not take 200 km rides on a car there - somewhere in the middle You have to step out to clean the windscreen, and bingo - they have got you Amazingly, on my Thai trip I found them to be rarities.

I use Off repellents in Finland, have found them good for two hours (especially the Finnish tar-flavoured brand). Years ago I bought wristwatch-looking electronic repeller from USA. It was to scare away mosquitos with "dragonfly buzz" or "male mosquito whine" (?!), creating a three-meter "skeeto-free" area. As I had thought, it had no effect on "skeetos" whatsoever.

A Finnish specialty is Lipoptena cervi, a close relative to Ornithomyia flies, that are familiar to bird banders. During autumn these flies hover in our forests, looking for Alces alces, and landing on any large dark animals, like humans. They immediately drop their wings and crawl into hair or under clothes. Only rarely they stick people, but they are a jolly nuisance, as they can hide a week in the clothes and are extremely hard to kill. They are repellent-tolerant, and due to their flat & hard appearance, slappng won't do - you have to cut them between your nails. Light-coloured (orange, yellow & white) clothes do not attract them, but with other colours there will be constant popping of Lipoptena in your back. Lipoptena has been spreading westwards, reaching Finnish west coast about ten years ago.
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Old Tuesday 28th September 2004, 16:21   #23
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I am less prone to being eaten alive since I had to take antihistamine permanently, due to dangerous reaction to stings and bites, but since being on this permanent medication I have very rarely been either bitten or stung, so there is something in the be prepared lark! I had heard the Tee Tree oil was pretty good too, either before or after, but one thing I heard was guranteed to keep them at bay... urine, rub it all over exposed areas and allow to dry, sounds awful to me, but they do say it really works! I think I'll decline the trials though!
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