Bug season in our region goes in stages. Ticks are present much of the spring, summer and fall, and with the diseases they carry, are clearly a major public health issue.
This has been yet another year where they are plentiful. Even with repellents, I have plucked a few off me this spring and early summer.
Then there are the seasonal bug issues that run in stages. First we get black flies, and their pesky bites. Then come mosquitoes, which are also disease-spreading and hang around until the first hard frost.
But the bugs that seem to bother me the most are deer flies, those biting flies that show up each June and linger until we get drier weather during the summer.
It's been debated by the medical community whether these nasty bugs spread disease. Some studies suggest they can.
I set out the other day to go for a bike ride along Bay Road just across the Vermont state line from Whitehall, a nice seasonal dirt road along the Poultney River, and had just gotten out of my car when the first deer fly started buzzing around my head. I hadn't gotten my bike off the car yet and there were several more. I applied some Deet, and figured once I got going I could outrun them on my bike, which has worked before.
That may work on a road bike on pavement, but not on a rutted, dirt road, or with this year's bumper crop of bugs. Eventually I had to turn back after just minutes, swatting at the nasty buggers as I pedaled.
I seem to be allergic to their bites. and had a couple of itchy, nasty welts in a matter of minutes. The reaction has been so bad in past summers, I have to take Benadryl to calm down the swelling and itching.
Deer flies reproduce on wetland plants, so it makes sense that they will be worse in places where there was a lot of standing water, such as near Lake Champlain in light of the flooding there this spring.
I eventually made my way over to Lake Bomoseen State Park, to ride some trails there and near adjacent Glen Lake. The bugs weren't nearly as bad there, thankfully.
By my estimation, we have another bad couple of weeks for deer flies before they have their seasonal drop off. I'm counting the days.
-- Don Lehman