How to ward off 5 cottage-country bugs

What you can do to keep bites and stings to a minimum

By Teresa MorgadoTeresa Morgado

Avoid bugs


The last thing you want to deal with when you’re on a scenic hike or at a barbecue is insects. Unfortunately, they are a part of the cottage experience. Here are some tips for protecting yourself from cottage-country bugs.

Black flies

Season: May to mid-June

Worst time of day: Sunset

Black flies are attracted to dark colours, so the best way to deter them is to wear light-coloured clothing. Since the flies can’t bite through your clothes, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Black flies will try to get under your clothes, so try tucking your pants into your socks and putting elastic bands around your wrists.

Repellents containing DEET may actually attract black flies, but those containing permethrin (usually used to deter ticks) may work when applied to clothing.

Avoid wearing perfume, cologne, or aftershave as black flies are attracted to their scents. Black flies breed in running water so prepare to encounter them in wet areas.


Season: Early spring to late summer

Worst time of day: Sunrise and sunset

Unlike black flies, mosquitoes can bite through clothing, but wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants will still decrease your chances of getting bites.

Mosquitoes tend to be out in greater numbers at sunrise and sunset so avoid wooded areas during these times.

It only takes a spoonful of water for a mosquito to lay her eggs, so remove all standing water from around the cottage. Attracting birds and bats to the area can also help control the mosquito population.

Deer and horse flies

Season: June to August

Worst time of day: Daytime

Deer and horse flies are more likely to bite animals than humans, which is bad news for your canine companion. Luckily, there are insect repellents just for dogs, such as K9 Advantix or Bite Blocker. Ask your vet about the safest spray for your dog.

You can also try the Tred-Not DeerFly Patch. It’s a patch that sticks to the back of your hat to attract deer flies, who land on the sticky strip and get stuck. Once the patch is full, remove it from your hat and throw it away.

Stable flies

Season: June to September

Worst time of day: All day near vegetation

Stable flies can be found in decaying vegetation, such as lawn clippings and seaweed washed on shore. Stable flies can also be found at the lakefront and they come out on warm summer days.

Since stable flies are attracted to shiny surfaces, they especially like to bite wet skin, so dry off immediately after getting out of the water.

Bees and wasps

Season: Late June to mid-September

Worst time of day: Daytime

Bees and wasps can be harmful to you, your children, and your pets if they sting; but swatting and spraying only provokes them.

These insects are integral to the environment: bees pollinate many food crops and plant species, and produce honey; wasps prey on a number of pest insects and control their populations. Bee conservation is especially important as millions are dying each year, which leads experts to think they may become extinct.

To remove bees without killing them, contact your local beekeeper to take them off your property.

Avoid using perfume, cologne, body sprays, hair spray, and fragranced suntan lotion, as bees and wasps are attracted to sweet scents.

Empty your trash frequently, because bees and wasps will be attracted to discarded sugary foods.

Tip: For all bugs, try some of these eco-friendly solutions.

This article was originally published on September 1, 2010


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Dec. 20, 2011

3:40 pm

It may not be 100% eco-friendly or cheap and covers a limited area but i strongly recommend getting a Mosquito Magnet for important outdoor areas ( for info and distributors). The (localized) difference is huge. We put our unit about halfway between deck and dock (70'). The lake side of our cottage was almost totally mosquito free within at most 2 weeks while 60' from the deck in the parking area the instant we opened the car doors it was like someone had rung a dinner bell. we had some initial issues and found the manufacturer stands behind their product.


Jun. 19, 2011

7:01 am

I would like to purchase a Bug lantern or Theracell device to repell insects but I need to know if they work and which is best. I believe all your readers could benefit from such advice if you can provide it!!

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