Living in the woods comes with a plague of black flies and mosquitos. If they are too thick, they can make your summer season a living hell, especially when city slickers become suddenly fully dependent on growing and hunting their foods. Everything that's fun has a down or tough side, or it wouldn't get fun anymore. If you didn't need to climb the hill, sliding down wouldn't be as worth-it. But relentless flies, I guarantee you, will not allow you to have any fun. What if we run out of bug spray?
A half-dozen cans of deet per person to a trib retreat should do it for a few years. It's not a trivial thing. Have more than six for yourself if you plan on doing a lot of hunting. To conserve on this chemical, don't waste it in the air as you spray your body parts. Spray a strip close to the skin, then wipe it around by hand. Or, spray the palm and wipe; it may be a good idea to wash your palms, most of the time, when you're done.
When I had a place in the sunny south, the house was painted off-white. Bugs of all varieties were attracted to those white walls. Many would just stay in one spot for hours, as if staring at the flood lights near the roof. Others were flying about constantly. The light would shine on the flying bugs in such a bright way that you could see their flight patterns; they all gave a spectacular show that I had never seen before, because I've grown up in the far north.
At the time I had four chickens, and two ducks with clipped wings. They would feast on those bugs all evening long. They would pick them off the wall. So, paint the walls of your chicken coop a light color, and leave a light bulb on for a few hours whenever you think it best to feed them "meat." I have no idea what big-bug dinners each night might do to your eggs, but they should increase the nitrogen content of the chicken droppings -- good for the garden soil -- and every bug in your chicken's stomach is one less bug that might land on your garden plants, bonus. Unfortunately, chickens like the big juicy bugs, not skinny mosquitos (you should have seen those hens turn into wolves whenever a large moth flew into view).
The night bugs were almost like a carpet on the outer walls at times. I thought to attract them from as far around as possible by the flood lights. Then, after turning all lights out at bedtime, I would leave the electrical zapper on all night, which is to say: if we thin the moths and other plant eaters all around, our gardens will fare better. But it's going to take quite a few nights to get rid of them, during which time you've attracted eaters to your garden area. That's why you shouldn't do this without chickens and the zapper. The zappers did work for small flies / mosquitoes too, because they go for them in warm climates. I had little luck with the zappers in the far north.
The mosquitos outside you can live with while you're sleeping, but there are night crawlers a city slicker doesn't know about that feast on garden leaves. No leaves, no vegetables either. Attract them to the general vicinity of the zapper with a floodlight; 2) place a light in a box acting as a trap of some kind. Point the direction of the floodlight from night to night in different directions. You could find that, in the second year and third years, you've reduced the populations enormously because every dead insect tonight can't produce eggs tomorrow.
There is the question of whether it's a good or bad thing to kill bugs large-scale indiscriminately. I figure that when a garden is as important as it will be in the trib, the place would be better off wholly bug-less. The bugs have the rest of the countryside to enjoy themselves.
Problem is, daytime insects sleep while your murder of night-time bugs goes on. And daytime insects also like garden plants. The good news: chickens work by day too, and we hope they like to chase grasshoppers.
The nasty black fly is the hell you don't want while tending to the garden. If it's a rainy year, you'll appreciate not watering the garden much, but the black flies go away in the dry summer heat, yet venture out in the evenings. Heat with rain won't kill them off; they make a come-back after the summer heat, especially in the early evenings. Some bug chemical on a surface / window screen lit up by light might be helpful, if you're into that.
In the far north, after I left Texas, I sat on my lawn chair one mid-day when black flies and mosquitos were thick. I was armed defensively with a hooded mosquito-net shirt, covering all my head and face as well, a nasty thing to work in when it's hot. The mosquito-net shirt had to be tucked into my pants to keep black flies out, as they find any hole possible. They know no danger nor fear of death at my swatting hands. If you swat and miss, or even if you hit them in mid-flight, they are right back at you with a bigger evil grin than before. I wore a long-sleeve t-shirt because mosquitos could sometimes reach through the net material to my arms, but I like to work hard and it gets too hot. Really, it can be a dire problem in the woods, just so you know.
Offensively, I had a fly swatter, and some soft-cottony white mittens as I sat on the chair. The only thing I didn't have was the war trumpet. Yes, I wore gloves to work in the summer lest my hands be sucked dry of blood. But on this day the mittens turned into an offensive weapon. Black flies were all over my pants, and I learned that if one drops a finger on them at just the right speed, without alarming them, they would just stay put, or continue walking along, as the finger squashed-rolled them to death. I couldn't believe it. Seven times out of ten, the black flies just let me press them to death, though I would tend to roll them a bit on the jean material to make death more certain. At first, I could do one fly just about every second. They were also on the mittens, looking for a "hole" in the cloth large enough to reach the skin, and I would just press them there too. It's very delightful to get vengeance.
After about an hour, I had eliminated most of the black flies, and many dozen mosquitos (they are not as active by day, but they are there, in the ground foliage or on the trees). Mosquitos would not let me get my finger close before flying away, so it was the lightning-quick swatter for them. My jeans were a massacre zone, covered with the blood of war. These pests were making my life hell as I worked outdoors every day. I don't think it was the small lake that juts to the property, but the rock-filled ravine passing through the property to the lake, for I've read that black flies lay eggs on rocks in streams.
I did not build on this property with lake and ravine. Instead, I purchased another property, much larger with thick trees, and next to a marsh zone. This is where I was hoping that the zappers would relieve the environment of mosquitoes, but it was too cold for them, as soon as the sun went down, to be interested in the purple light of the zappers.
The flies on me at that lawn-chair battle were only the ones in a circle around me for as far as they could see my movements. I wondered what the war would have been like if several people were working around the house...and that's when I realized a very good thing. With several people killing flies every day, flies would quickly thin out. Every fly killed today is one or more generation that will not live tomorrow. Who knows how many generations any particular fly will be responsible for? If the fly population is reduced drastically in one year, the next year will be much better.
Can human mosquito killers explain why mosquitoes are fewer in numbers in small towns on the edge of the countryside? If you know the truth, that people yet run indoors after six or seven mosquitoes come to their porches, imagine how they will feel about living in the deep woods. To a person raised in the country, city slickers before mosquitoes look like wimps.
Some flies, and I think mosquitos fit this category, are local i.e. they don't fly far. Ever notice how young mosquitos just swarm in circles at one spot? They tend not to fly about on windy days, and they live in the lower parts of the landscape, in the cool grass. So, here's my plan for the trib. I'm going to take every man, woman and child I've got, and arm them early in the fly season with fly swatters. The dollar store swatters last a long time, and I've already got nearly ten of them. You should have these on your trib list.
I'm going to separate my warriors by a hundred feet, all around the house. They will be instructed to walk about their part of the forest slowly, to attract as many flies as possible, and at the peek time they are to sit down in their lawn chairs for merciless battle. If this is done for an hour every day or two for a few days, I think the situation will become enormously improved for the entire season, with benefits into the coming years. The strategy can be repeated every three weeks, if needed, and you stand a better chance at having a great army if you light up the barbecue with some venison for them after their one-hour battles. Ahh, the life.
After my lawn-chair battle of that delightful day, I found another method that was very promising. I would walk slowly to a tent not used for sleeping in, then enter it slowly, so that hovering black flies and mosquitos would follow me in. Then I'd wave my hands and make chaos with the tent door mainly closed. As the bugs were in a frantic frenzy to have me, I stepped out the door and left most of them inside to dehydrate. On hot days, black flies were dead in a few hours, otherwise, on cooler days, they'd make it to the next day but no more.
Mosquitos were different. One day I closed a window so as to trap a half dozen mosquitos between the glass and the screen. It didn't rain for the next six days, but all the mosquitos in that "trap," so skinny to begin with, without food or water, lived into the sixth day. I was amazed and realized why dry climate doesn't seem to destroy their populations; as soon as it rains, out they come from under the underbrush.
At times, black flies would be in the trailer in the evening after dark, even though they are a daytime fly. I figured that they came in just before dark, at twilight. They liked to fly around the light bulbs. So, here's a thought: have a light in a tent at dusk, with the door open, and see if black flies stream inside to the bulb. If so, close the tent after black flies no longer stream in, and let them RIP there the next day. You'll be happier the next day.
Deer fly are an incredible nuisance, day after day. They will swarm around your hair without stop so long as it's not too hot out; on a very hot sunny day, they might swarm around the head for a few minutes and then give up. But heat does not kill them off, though for some reason they are gone by late summer, perhaps due to cold nights. They bite and suck or lap up blood, but they take a long time to get to it. They'll "bounce" (land and leave in one motion) off your hair many times before they feel its safe to land. They seem to enjoy it like a ritual, like working up to the climax. In the meantime, you can't be happy no matter how beautiful the summer day is.
At times they'll burrow into the hair without you realizing, and drink from the scalp. No matter, it's a delight to squish them there when the pain alerts you of one. I've built up such a passionate hatred for them that I've become sadistic about killing them. It feels so good. I dig into my hair with three fingers and pull them out while squashing, and flick them to the ground in disgust. They make a lovely little pop when they are squashed enough. Serves them right. You don't know what it's like until they've driven you insane. The only good news is that they are smaller than horse flies, but they hang around in packs of dozens whereas horse flies seem to be loners. I have few horse flies, not a problem at all.
I read an article by someone trying to figure out a way to catch the deer flies. He realized that they hang out along his driveway, and the same applies at my place. They like trees (i.e. shade) at an opening such as a field. The trees along my driveway are one of their favorite havens (anything that can go wrong will go wrong), and they love it best when I'm going down to the road with a garbage bag in each hand, unable to swat them. I can tell by the sound of their wings that they love it when I'm upset at them. They've waited patiently so long on the trees for a deer to go by, and so this sop with garbage bags becomes their wake-up call. They are good-and-rested at that point, and thirsty.
He figured out that placing a bucket over the side mirror of his vehicle, covering the bucket with a sticky material, and driving up and down the driveway, caught quite a few deer flies. He found that they liked a blue bucket best. I was getting so desperate that I considered a blue vase on my head with sticky material. All I had was honey, and I realized that wasn't going to work. Besides, I didn't want the flies to win this war to the point that I would walk around with a plastic vase upside-down on my head, held there by a string around my throat. I didn't want the flies or the neighbors to think this was a birthday party.
I noted many times that when I drove in, they would follow the vehicle up the driveway, and they especially liked the side-view mirrors. I also noted that if the doors of the vehicle were open, many would fly inside. I used to get quite a few that way, but only if all windows would be closed, letting the hot sun dehydrate them. They don't last long in a hot vehicle. But this was not the best solution. I got smarter and stopped the vehicle near the road before pulling out, opened the window beside me, and watched them stream in, about 20 of them, maybe more (not even close to half of them). Then when the others wouldn't come in, the window was rolled up, and I'd give them all a lift toward town a couple of miles before rolling down the windows to give my problem to the people there. I realize it sounds selfish, but a man driven mad will do such things. I even did it again when I got home, eradicating at least 40 flies in one afternoon. There were probably a couple of hundred in that spot, and none stay behind when I drive by.
I'd walk toward the house with flies like buzzards around my head. Unfortunately, the closer I got to the house, the fewer the flies, as though they were side-tracked by the building. I wanted to lead them into the front door, and get them trapped in the house. They always stay at the sunny windows, and die fast on the sills, more than worth it for me...because I'm not one of those city-slicker clean freaks. Put that away if you go live in the country.
I noticed that there were many flies while at the shoulder of the road while putting out the garbage, but upon walking back toward home, the flies were substantially reduced just 100 feet in. It may be that they have a territorial zone that they feel comfortable in, and some won't go far from that zone if it's just a slow-poke walking along. But drive a car down, and these things get excited. No explanation.
The same bad luck took place when walking toward the vehicle in hopes of seducing them into it. Almost all of them would rather start to bounce off of, or skim along, the vehicle than swarm around my head and come into the vehicle with me. And again, some would enter into an open door, but others refused to go into the vehicle. It couldn't have been their intelligence.
As I approached the door of the house, there were noticeably fewer flies by far. As I got near the open door, some would zoom into the house even before I got to the door, and more would follow me into the house as I walked in. They went immediately for the white ceilings. It's a riddle as to why some are drawn into the house like a magnet, while others remain in flight at the door area outside, then fly off when I was no longer out. As many as 15 had come in at first, then fewer with each repeat. I did this about a half dozen times in a half hour, as a test more or less, to get better acquainted. Know your enemy, they say.
But in the house, with the door closed, I enjoyed the slaughter immensely when, after a few minutes of toying with the ceilings, the flies would all end up at a window on the sun/south side of the house. I had a fly swatter at the south window prepared. It was easy pickings there on the window with the swatter in hand. Each hard cold murder was a satisfaction. There was no mercy, just like they gave me no mercy. If the first swat didn't do the trick, the second was the most delightful. You'll know it when it happens to you.
I went out one morning to the vehicle. I noted the deer fly bouncing off the vehicle, only much slower than in mid-day or evening. I went in to get the fly swatter. That evening, I did it again. Walking first down the driveway, then back to the vehicle with swatter in hand, I was killing them by the dozens. My neighbor must have been wondering what the smacking noises were, one after the other. Then I took a trip to the garden, and brought dozens more to the vehicle, and yet a third trip around the front yard, at which time it was dusk, so I called it a day. The next day I went to the front yard, and there was one, maybe two deer flies on me. A second trip later in the day only brought two of them. This was amazing. I walked to the house, and two entered with me, taken care of at the front window. I walked out a third time that evening (I was working in the house), and there were hardly any flies. I had won the battle so soon with just a fly swatter.
Up to the third night, there were far fewer flies, meaning that eradicating 200 over a period of a few days is a big deal for getting some relief. After about a week, the flies still had not been back to normal population, about six or seven on me at a time down by the garden.
In 2012, there was a drought in my area starting in early June, and lasting to the end of July. There were only two rains in that period, with minor amounts of rainfall, not enough to create pools on the ground. The black flies were completely gone very soon, and mosquitoes were drastically reduced in July. But deer flies seemed to suffer no reduction of their numbers at that time.
On about July 23, I walked into the bush and to the beaver dam that creates the marsh. That's where I expected mosquitoes to be surviving the most. After the beaver dam, the ground is thick with tall grass and wet ground for a very large area in the hundreds of feet. There was not one mosquito in that bush on that day. In comparison to the summer of 2008, when there was much rain, it was drastic. It was unbearable in the woods that year, even in September. The following two years were mosquito-ridden. I was amazed to see how well the wild raspberries (they almost all have no fruit) survived healthy in such little rainfall.
It's rolling thunder as I write on July 31, and the drought promises to be over as there is about an inch of rain in the forecast for the next few days. The next generation of mosquitoes should be a small one. Is the beaver pond, filled with frogs, capable of growing mosquitoes? The ground is nearly bone dry to deep depths, and the two rains expected for this week are four days apart and each too little to create pools of water on their own. By the time of the second rain, all the rain from the first will be soaked in. This is my prayers come true on the mosquito front.
It's now the morning after that first rain. I walked out to get my second red tomato, and even walked down the driveway. There was not one mosquito sound in my ear, and only a few deer flies, very tolerable. To not have mosquitoes in the first week of August is extremely rare. Plus, in the next days, about 7 to 10 days from the time of removing all the dear flies on swat day, I could walk to the garden or the front yard with only one or two at a time, and even be out there 5 minutes before one found me. Droughts are good for this, and so you should have your own beaver pond nearby. Mine's about 300 feet from the center of the garden area, and only about 10 feet lower than the garden, ideal for pumping with low energy consumption.
Days later, after the second rain during the hot night, there was only one deer fly on me the entire 15 minutes spent out front, and NOT ONE mosquito even though everything was wet, cool and overcast. They are just not there in other words. If, as it partially seems, dear flies stick mainly to one area, it seems to pay well to remove them early in the year. I wonder how long mosquitoes will take before coming back to full force. By the way, the same principal applies to weeds: pull one weed, and you're pulling a hundred or more seeds.
A few days after a big 2" rain in the second week of August, the deer fly had all but disappeared (not because of the rain, of course). And mosquitoes had not come out because they were not there in the grass. It was great to be able to cut and handle trees, shirt-less into the deep evening, on the one side of the house, without any flies bothering me. It is also great to be able to leave a door open (as it is now at 6 am) to the outside from dawn onwards with usually no mosquitoes coming in (just two seen this morning, likely because I've disturbed the piles of brush beside the house). A low density of mosquitoes had survived the drought, and would come out at dusk while I worked the trees, which is why I was also out there covering (with dirt) or burying/burning the piles of branches that I was hoping to use as mulch in the garden; they take a few years to rot good enough to use as a mulch or soil additive, but I can plow them into the garden dirt instead. I use a mini-excavator to plow and work the dirt, and of course to dig the frog ponds.
After the rain, the frog ponds had all filled up again nearly to the brim, and the frogs were thick, but small, in every pond. I don't know how they enjoy life just sitting there motionless, but I'm grateful. Perhaps they hunt at night. For my situation, because the garden is in a high water table, the water will be in the ponds for a while even without rain, a good source for watering the garden using a hand bucket. I'm hoping that mosquitos smell the ponds and lay their eggs in them, only to be gobbled up by frogs, but, oh-oh: "Fish and tadpoles eat mosquito larvae, and frogs eat adult mosquitoes and anything else that they can swallow." Does that mean frogs won't take the larvae? Perhaps frogs don't like to open their mouths in the water.
[Mosquitos] don't travel much, typically not more than a mile from the place where they were hatched, and their sole purpose seems to be laying more eggs to make more mosquitoes. A female can produce up to 500 eggs before she finally dies.
...However, some species will lay mosquito eggs on moist, often-flooded soil in anticipation of the next rise in water. Those eggs can survive winter, waiting for spring or summer rains to cover them over.
...Eggs left on moist soil can last for up to a year, until the ground is flooded again, before hatching.
It does explain why mosquitoes return the following year after dry whether. Hopefully, it's just a bad, wrong rumor going around that mosquito eggs can lie dormant for years in dry weather. The article above tells that birds and fish eat the larvae while they're developing in water, but no mention of frogs eating them.
The webpage below tells that a few drops of cooking oil or dish detergent per square meter of water surface will drown the mosquito larvae (because they can't break through the surface film to breath, and flies landing on the water can't stand on it because the dish soap removes water tension). This idea is for your rain barrels or livestock drinking supply. The article presents other ideas too.
Mosquitoes are not the biggest fly threat to trib survivors needing to spend much time in the garden, as mosquitoes are active mainly from dusk to dawn. Mosquitoes ruin your evenings by trapping you indoors. Black flies start coming out when garden soil is ready for transplanting from vases. Black flies may be gone in typical years within a month of appearing, but deer flies linger into the summer, until the time comes for re-planting, pulling weeds, watering, and other garden maintenance. There is joy in walking out to the garden every morning to see how your babies are developing, but deer flies are there to rob you of that joy.
Fly bites are nasty in the beginning, but the body learns to accept and adapt until bites are no longer as itchy or painful. Still, the bigger plague is the swarming around your head without bites. The more heavily your area is infested with biting flies, the more attractive it is for you to purchase your trib food ahead of time, and rely less on garden produce. While fruit flies in your food-storage room may not bite you, they will bite your food (and be sucked up your nostrils, city slicker, get used to it).
Ah, whew: "If you're not interested in having fish [in your pond to eat mosquito larvae], consider tadpoles. Tadpoles not only eat mosquito larvae, but they grow up to become toads or frogs, which will eat mosquitoes. One toad can consume about a hundred mosquitoes a night." That's what I wanted to hear. Now I may not need to re-fill the ponds. I want the frogs to eat garden pests.
I Did It. It Works!
By the following spring in 2013, the mosquitos were back to about normal population despite the long drought the summer before. The black flies were as bad as always. I was going crazy, thinking of moving, but determined to stay due to all the yard work that I had done. The gardening was mainly a success, and the place is looking sharp. I had bought some sticky fly strips a couple of weeks ago, and then the idea occurred to wrap one around my hat to see if the deer flies would go for it. I had been working in the front yard to the point of cursing the deer flies swarming round my head. The black flies added to the frustration. I didn't want to put on the DEET daily several times each day, and it was now too hot for the screened suit. What to do? In I went to find my cap.
That's when I saw a near-transparent tupperwear container about 8 inches square. It fit tight over my head. The curling fly strip stuck to it not bad, but a couple of pieces of scotch tape at each end kept it from unraveling. There was only one strip encircling the container on this first test. No sooner did I go back to the front yard that, within seconds, three flies were on the sticky. Seconds later, a fourth fly. None of them had circled my head more than a few times. After the fourth was caught, silence. I was amazed that only four flies were out there.
I was hopeful that I could walk around and attract many more, but to my surprise, there were hardly any more out there on this day. First, I walked down to the garden area. It took a full minute for one to arrive, and it swarmed only three times of four times around my head until I heard the delightful bzzzz sound on the sticky! It was amazing. I loved to listen to them suffer. The same happened after other flies arrived, except that the last one managed to swarm for nearly a minute around my head before going for the sticky. I don't know why this one lasted this long.
The tape is dark brown and very visible on the whitish container. A dark container might attract better since flies are programmed to attack animal fur. In any case, this method is by far the best I've known, and is a highly recommended solution because it has the potential to reduce future generations of flies around your house by many magnitudes with virtually no effort on your part. If only we could find some cheap paste-on, or better yet some spray-on, sticky material.
I was able to work in the front yard at this first trial for about 30 minutes with many fewer black flies on my unprotected arms and neck area. Here is my count on the strip after spending 30-45 minutes out there:
Dear fly: only eight (it means I hardly have any deer flies out there thus far)
Black flies: 86 (excellent! You can imagine why they drive me crazy. Most of them were captured.)
Mosquitoes: three (it's too hot for them to be out mid-afternoon, but promising that these went for the strip)
Although only eight deer flies were caught, there simply were no others. It was silent around me.
I went out to cut the grass along the driveway, disturbing the grass and making a commotion until, after just ten minutes, there were some 200 flies (but whose counting?) on me all at once, too many for the sticky strip to protect me. If the tupperware container was fully covered in sticky, and if my skin was protected, this would be an excellent way to eradicate the flies very quickly and effortlessly. A means to strap the container under the chin would be easy. Just put it on and forget about it, but don't let the neighbors see you without first explaining.
Where the strip had unraveled slightly, some of the glue remained on the container and was able to catch black flies well. This means that when one strip is removed due to being filled with flies, the container will be sticky. As more strips are added and removed, more of the container will become a trap. I think this is going to be an excellent trap. Why isn't it on the market???
At about 8 pm in overcast skies, I removed the first strip and wrapped a new one to the tupperware container. I took the wheelbarrow to the front yard and filled it with rocks, then returned to the garage with it. It took about 2 minutes. There were only 10 mosquitoes on the sticky, but this is not bad at all because it shows that they like the smell and color. There were no black flies on the sticky, and I heard not one deer fly.
I then went for a second trip, and counted 25 afterward. I then walked around the circular driveway slowly and counter 50 in all. By that time, the trap was buzzing loudly, and I could see some 50 black flies in the air around my head, yet they were now not going for the sticky. How can I explain this? Perhaps it's hot afternoon versus the cooler evening. They went for the sticky in droves in the heat of the afternoon.
I then walked to the frog ponds where I can pick up about a 100 mosquitoes and bring them back to the side of the house where they love to land or skim along the block wall. I usually finish off about 50 of them on the block wall in three or four minutes (with a fly swatter). On this test, I remained there about that amount of time and swatted 50 or so. I then came into the house to do a count:
71 mosquitoes; 12 black flies; 1 deer fly
There is something to learn here. The 10 or so deer fly that were around my house this day would have driven me crazy, but within minutes with this trap, they were eliminated. If this can be done when there are 50 or 100 around the house, that would be an incredible relief.
The capture on the trap of 71 mosquitoes in 15 minutes or so is more than I expected.
Immediately after writing the above, I returned to the frog ponds (all within a 1/2-acre clearing) where the mosquitoes can all see me walking through. I probably take back a significant percentage of the population there on each trip to the house, depending on how much they like the temperature. It's about 70 F out now. After swatting another 50 or so at the house wall, in three or four minutes (you get most in the first minute or two), I came inside to do another count: there were now 98 mosquitoes, or almost 30 more after only about five minutes. That is not bad at all. There were no additional black flies, probably because the mosquitoes on the sticky, about every half inch on average, were too intimidating.
Next, as it was starting to grow dark, I just walked around the pond area without bringing them back to the house to swat. I was six or seven minutes total. I could see many black flies and yet they didn't go for the sticky. In the house, the count now was about 180 in all. That's about 80 more in five minutes down by the pond area, and it tells me that mosquitoes (I suppose it may depend on species) will continue to fill the sticky even after it's abundantly filled.
It should be said that if I get sucked by one mosquito while capturing 100 to 200, I may have done it in vain if it lays eggs, and the larvae survive.
Imagine if there were two or three strips of sticky on the container at the same time while spending a half hour taking the mosquitoes to my house wall. The population could be severely eliminated in that small time. Repeat it once per week and eliminate many tens of thousands that would have been the future generations.
I've been wondering whether to fill the ponds with dirt (i.e. to eliminate the ponds). The mosquitoes, even though they may not be laying eggs in them, like to hang around there. Actually, it may be a good idea to have them come in from a wider area so that it's easier / quicker to take care of them. The tadpoles have been countless in all the ponds for weeks to this point, and may be eating the mosquito larvae. I don't see larvae in the water at all even though the place is crawling with mosquitoes.
Two days later, what mosquitoes? I wore the hat trap much of the day outdoors (about three or four hours) and noted that, according to the number of flies on me in the beginning, their numbers dwindled constantly thanks to the sticky. At midday, when I started to wear the trap, one deer fly after the other arrived. I kid you not, that no sooner did they arrive that they went for the sticky.. After about ten of them arrived in the span of a few minutes, there were no more. Amazing. Such an easy fix. That evening, I noted that there were nearly no mosquitoes in the woods beside the ponds. It seemed true that the ponds attracted them from all around so that I could take care of them easily.
This hat trap works better than hanging the strip on a tree branch. You are what attracts the flies, and the hat does the rest. A re-usable round tupperware container or pail that sits snugly on your forehead should be ideal. Or, roll your own pointed hats out of paper cardboard, and dispose of them routinely. I turned the fly strips over to use their other sides.
One page suggests red transmission fluid on a black surface for deer and horse flies. Another suggests corn syrup in boiled water. Remember, the strips need to be visible to the flies. I'm reading that flies like yellow (don't stock up on yellow/brown clothes for the trib).
Just found this:
Deet doesn't effect deer and horse flies...the only thing that works well and everytime is to buy a cheap hat or take one you don't care about, and put fly tape on the top of it. The pest strip fly tape is a great attractant to them and they land, stick and that's it...they are all done.
It comes down to a question of do you want a piece of fly strip on your hat covered with dead and dying deer flies? Or would you rather be swatting your head and cursing all the trip?
It works so well my older brother, who came up with this idea in the 60s, sold the idea to a company that made a special hat that a removable square of fly paper can be inserted into.
It works. and sadly its the only thing to work on deer, horse and marsh flies.
So why didn't the invention take off? Wearing tormented flies on the hat, I suppose, was not very in-fashion, not even in the country. I can't think of any other reason, unless the hat couldn't take repeated uses. But on my tupperware plastic, the strips come off easily, without damage to the plastic.
A couple of weeks later, I did two trips from the frog ponds in the early morning, bringing back and taking care of 100-200 mosquitoes. But on the next morning, it took nearly two minutes to get a mere 14 mosquitoes. That can't be coincidental; it means that looking after them really works, at least for a few days, to reduce the problem to negligible.
Well into July this year, the deer flies were rare in comparison to the year before, though for the first time in four years, horse flies were a slight problem. They too go for the sticky. Then, there was a large afternoon gathering (60, maybe 100 people) at my neighbors, with music until midnight, which must have attracted flies. The next day, I worked in the yard with a new round tupperware container, and was pestered for about four hours straight by flies, during which time about 40 deer flies were snagged, and dozens of black flies and mosquitoes too. Although there were constantly deer flies around my head, the sticky strip kept their numbers very low upon me at any given time. It was well worth wearing the hat trap.
On another occasion a couple of weeks later, I pulled weeds and mowed lawn for less than three hours while deer flies continually landed on the trap to the tune of over 50, with more than 100 black flies coming out of hiding in the cool grass while it was being mowed. After mowing, there were no flies around me. It was excellent. The numbers above represent most of the flies present at the time, not a small fraction. The same strip was used for a few days afterward to maintain low numbers, and as the end of July approached, for the first time ever, I stood realizing that, for a couple of hours, I was working without any flies bothering me at all. Such an easy fix.
The next two days saw me working shirtless outdoor most of the day with practically no deer flies. The day after that, I continued my battle against dandelions on the gravel driveway, where there are normally a hundred or two deer flies hanging out, but now there were practically none. I have no explanation for this aside from the hat trap. Over about four hours in various parts of the yard that day, the hat trap caught just 15 deer flies. No sooner did they swarm in that I could hear their buzzing protest in the sticky. Nine out of ten times after their initial protest, they end up flat on their backs with both wings stuck, silent.
It's been dry for the past few weeks, but last summer there was a wholesale drought and yet deer flies thrived through to September. Therefore, my only explanation for the unexpected lack of flies now, at the end of July, is the hat trap. The next trick is to invent something (a balloon on a string?) that looks like an animal, that moves on its own, and wears sticky strips on its "head." Change the strips every few days.
Take heart as you look forward to your own fly-pest experience. I am alone, but if there were ten people outdoors all at once with me, I would have ten times fewer flies on me, and there would be ten times as many swatters (or hat-trap wearers) taking care of the flies. It's no wonder they had big families back in the "old" days.
By the way, it's the end of July, but I have not seen one mosquito larva in any frog pond. I can't explain this, but I'm very happy about it.
As I'm writing now, it's August 6. I've been here almost five years; I know that the past week or so, since writing above, has been miraculous in that deer flies continue to remain virtually absent. Day after day, they are virtually gone. For example, I was pulling weeds again where they used to live the most, beside the driveway. That area is a thicket of weeds three to five feet tall. But on this day, spending a couple of hours (without the hat trap) pulling the unwanted species and mowing lawn, I heard about four deer fly in all, and perhaps eight mosquitos, though some of those may have been the same ones.
If I was hoping that 2014 would show some improvement, it did. For the mosquitoes and black flies. My war with the dandelions continued day after day for about five weeks. For the last three of them, the hat trap was used, first for the black flies. In the first of three, during roughly the 90 minutes that it took to pull 40-50 dandelions, on average, per day, the hat was capturing 500-600 black flies by my estimation. They did not let up much in the second week. By the third week, they had almost disappeared, a stark improvement over doing nothing at all.
The mosquitoes were horrendous this year. They were hiding out (and breeding) along a 400-foot drainage ditch leading from the road area to the frog ponds. The ditch goes under trees in rich vegetation, a perfect mosquito habitat. II sprayed some DEET on neck, ears and face, placed a mosquito-net jacket on, and went into the "jungle" with the hat trap. They were in swarms around me for as much as ten feet away in all directions. Not all were interested in me, it seemed. I learned that not all mosquitoes liked the trap for various reasons. Some may have been too young to like landing, or for feeding on blood. But after a week or so, a higher proportion landed on the trap. They like it best when the sticky is fresh / full of aroma.
The unthinkable was to wade through the vegetation along this ditch, and bring them back repeatedly to my house wall. Why would I do something so "stupid" as to bring them nearer to the house? It was an experiment, and I was thinking of you at the time. After two evenings of doing this, and swatting as many as I could get before darkness ended the slaughter, I walked though the ditch area. It was the third morning, and suddenly, the swarms were gone. There were a few mosquitoes in there, but a vast improvement on the order of 95 percent gone.
The frog ponds had many mosquitoes skimming the water surface in zig-zag patterns. Perhaps you've seen this. The ponds were filled with countless tadpoles ready to take care of the larvae. For the second year in a row, I did not see mosquito larvae in the water.
After bringing the mosquitoes to the house, on both evenings, I failed to get them all before darkness arrived. On the second night, I took a utility light out to a corner of the house, shining it on the wall in such a way as mosquitoes at the frog ponds could see the light bulb directly. The mosquitos came in like as to a magnet. They landed on the wall in the light, making easy pickings for about 30 minutes, until they were all finished coming in. It became amazingly exciting to swat two per second for several seconds at a time. In the meantime, the hat trap caught several hundreds that one night alone.
The third evening saw the swarms return to the ditch area, though not as bad. I made two trips with them to the house wall that night, and then used the utility light for an hour or more. It was warmer than the night before, and they kept coming in longer. I tried holding the light in different ways to coax them to the wall faster. Sometimes, it seemed that holding the light on an upward angle about a foot from the wall made them come in. Or, shining the light on the back of the head may have moved them away (some toward the wall). Rather than slamming them hard against the wall, firm taps worked best, first not to scare them away, but, secondly, they seemed to be attracted by taps on the gentler side. However, they need to be firm enough to assure that the mosquitoes don't merely get knocked out, only to come back to life on the ground.
If I can do this alone, four or five people can do it much better / faster.
There was no doubt about it, that the noise of swatting them against the wall caused others to come in from further out. For example, I went to stand on the wall furthest from the frog ponds. There were no mosquitoes there, but within a minute, as the first few came in and got swatted, waves would come in for as long as an hour later. They were very manageable waves, and experience has taught me that eradicating them all in this way makes the situation very desirable for days to come. There is still a chance that doing a thorough job in this way for two consecutive years, and getting them early before they have much time to breed, will make the third year very rewarding.
The great news is that, this year, the deer flies are virtually non-existent along my driveway or anywhere else. As I go about pulling dandelions, the odd deer fly comes along, and goes for the hat trap without fail. I've yet to have more than about two deer flies circling my head at any one time, day after day. This alone makes the hat trap worth many times the cost of the fly strips.
I am in the process of siding the house this year to a dark color upon which the mosquitoes will no longer be very visible. The light-blue house wrap paper (from Home Depot) has been ideal for getting both mosquitoes and black flies. The wrap has been on the house for four years, and has easily handled the numerous swats all at the same places. I would suggest that you purchase some house wrap, therefore, for trib purposes, and stick it to your dark wall(s) for this purpose. (By the way, if you are making a make-shift dwelling, you do not need to pay for finish siding, because the house wrap (merely stapled with 1/4' staples) over cheap chipboard lasts for years to protect against sun, rain and wind.)
Another thought is to set up some plywood where the mosquitoes thrive, and paint it a light color that they like. Instead of walking them to the house, swat them there. It's not work, but a pleasure, and the kids might really go for it a couple of times a week. Enjoy your time on the front deck much better with reduced flies.
I was using two strips at a time on the "hat," and flipping the strips over daily, meaning that two strips were used every two days for over two weeks to take care of the black flies, and a few more strips to look after the mosquitoes. This does not speak to the entire season, but it's to give you an idea of how many strips will be needed. I would suggest that 50 strips per year, per home site, in a wet-woods environment, is a wise trib investment.
If and when the 666 skincode arrives, it is predictable that, with so many Christians purchasing wilderness properties all at once, many will have only swamp land to choose from, either because nothing else will be available, or because they can't afford better. You need to prepare for the flies that are a natural part of wet land. Being on a river is ideal for capturing water without a deep well, but rivers are at the lowest parts of the land, the ones that stay moist longer after rains, where flies thrive best.
Is there any way to use a paper collar around the neck of a goat or sheep upon which the fly strips can be attached? It might just work.
I have won the war over the dandelions. After about four weeks of 40-50 cropping up daily in various places (3 acres), the number dwindled in the fifth week to about three daily. Some areas haven't seen one for over a week where they were showing 30 or more daily for the first four weeks. But this comes after pulling quite a few thousand last year. I had no idea what I was getting into when starting this war, but one cannot give up in mid battle because it wastes the previous time spent. They used to come up yellow, but now I don't see them until they are white and ready to take to the wind. It seems they go white in a matter of hours, even on tiny plants, meaning that I'm keeping constant watch to assure that they don't make a solid come-back. Never leave yellow dandelion flowers on the ground after pulling the plants, for they can flower white later in the day. I put them into a bucket to dry out, and burn them later. In the trib, I will let them grow as a food source.
A few weeks after writing here, I had 20 minutes to wait out in some remote country, and so I went to a local corner store for a drink. I started a conversation with the owner, and got to talking on the mosquitoes. She said I needed bat houses, and in fact she had one on display, for sale. She said I could easily build my own. She said she has a fire pit at home surrounded by five trees, each one having a bat house. At dusk, 100 bats would come out and eat all the mosquitoes around the fire, and then spread out further away. She said that bats are no problem whatsoever to have around. It sounded just like what I needed at the one tree in the middle of my garden, in the middle of all the ponds. You can google "bat houses" to learn more on this.
Bonus: the bat dung = fertilizer will fall to the ground from the bat house. Why didn't I think of this myself? Because I didn't know that bat houses existed, and because I didn't know that 100 bats would hang out at the same house. What a great way to use the mosquitoes, after they are eaten. Bat dung makes an excellent fertilizer, but read up on the danger of breathe in some spores from bat / mouse dung
The store owner, and those who sell bat houses, say that bats will find these houses, guaranteed, sooner or later, as soon as a few days even. I have no bats at my place, probably because I do not keep an outside light on. Bats are attracted to outdoor night lights because that's where insects are attracted.
The deer flies never did make a come-back as of the first week in July. Never before could I walk down the driveway to put garbage out without a horde of flies at my head. Now, nothing. I still have not seen one mosquito larva in any frog pond, though I found a couple hundred in a bucket filled with rain water.
Update summer 2016: in the fall, I dug up the mosquito patch (the "jungle") with the excavator, and raked (by hand) the soil so that pools wouldn't remain after rain. The prediction was that most mosquito eggs would be buried, and that proved true over the first two months of mosquito season this summer. In the first month, the numbers of mosquitoes were probably less than five percent of what they were previously. In the first week of July, near sundown, I was able to walk into the thicket, with just one mosquito, I kid you not, coming at me after roughly 30 seconds in there. There were no swarms to be seen. I was showing my son this amazing transformation, and telling him that my mosquito problem was local, not from mosquitoes deep in the forest or from the marsh. Ditto for the deer flies.
Loud frogs have moved in, not to my liking at all, as they are about 50-70 feet from the bedroom window. There is also what sounds like a toad species that annoys me. The loud frogs go on for about six weeks, in breeding season, I assume, and then go quiet for the rest of the year.
Update 2017 -- Incredible outcome. The long-stretch jungle had fewer mosquitoes this year than last even though it was a wet spring. I wore the hat several times over a period of a few days, but the number of deer fly caught were around 20. This was in the first two weeks of June. On June 14th, as I write here, I was out in the open over an hour with two new strips of sticky, but caught only 10 in that time. Amazing. No swarms of deer fly follow my vehicle up the driveway. After an hour (same day) at the driveway area, only 6 deer fly caught. There just were not any more of them. I credit this situation by shaping out the land at the road area, allowing it to drain, and by mowing it a couple of times per season to keep the vegetation short.
The incredibly poor fly situation has been cured on the local level, meaning that there is hope for your place if you do the same.
What was I doing for those hours? I confess, spraying weeds with Round Up. I need cheatin' help. Some of these weeds have root systems that won't pull fully out, and Round Up should destroy the roots.