Get Them Off Me! How to Deal with Bugs
I grew up in Northern Ontario, a veritable haven of horrible biting things that would rear their little mandibles every spring, reminding us that while warm weather may be returning, it comes with a blood price.
Here are few simple tips for out smarting bloodsucking pains in the you-know-what.
Dress to Protect
Simply covering up can help a lot (especially at dusk and into the night). Leggings, sweatpants, loose long-sleeve tops and thin coats with a higher neck can help keep down the number of bites. There’s a big but here though: certain bugs will bite any exposed skin like crazy if you don’t load up on bug spray, so clothes can only go so far and some bugs are worse biters than others. The biggest offenders are black flies, which are found throughout North America, Scotland, England and New Zealand, particularly in the spring months around marsh areas.
To put it simply, wear light and long-sleeved clothing, tuck it in and make sure to wear shoes or boots (lest you be covered in bites on your feet, the worst kind of bites). Aside from clothing, you can also look for…
Apply Repellents Liberally
There are a lot of various natural repellents that people recommend, but since those are generally trial-and-error and tend to be all over the place in effectiveness, here are a few more conventional options.
DEET-containing repellents are generally your best bet, but since there is some debate about DEET (and some people tend to be a little cautious of it), there are plenty of DEET-free spray repellents that you can purchase.
Other options include citronella candles and mosquito coils, and repellents that contain picaridin. Some companies sell insect repellent-infused clothing, but these can be hard to find in some places (and will be rendered ineffective after a certain number of washes).
Be Mindful of Ticks
I just want to quickly touch on ticks (except not really, because they’re gross) because they are both a pain in the butt and can potentially be quite harmful. Found in many warm, humid climates all over the world, these little bulbous insects usually latch on when hiking through tall grass or bush (especially in the shade).
If you find one on your skin, the best way to get it off is to gently wipe down the area with an antiseptic wipe and then remove the tick itself using tweezers, grasp firmly and then pull it away straight out from the skin in a slow, steady motion. If any mouth bits (also gross) are still stuck in your skin, gently pull back the skin and scrape them away with a razor or sterile needle, then clean the wound thoroughly.
If you’re worried about Lyme disease, be sure to get checked out at a local clinic—the clearest sign of infection is if a pink or red bulls-eye rash forms around the bite within 30 days. If that happens, then get your butt to a hospital ASAP. Finally, for those who think they can avoid bugs by going inside, well…
Check For Bed Bugs
Ugh, these are the worst. They’re a growing problem in North America and once they get in somewhere, well, they can really take over a place. Since hotels can be a terrifying breeding ground for these little buggers and there aren’t any known chemical repellents that you can use to fend them off, stay slightly ahead of the game by inspecting the room when you first get there (check near headboards, under the edges of mattresses and any sort of fabric-y corner for tiny blood spots).
Bed bug bites are bad, but what’s worse is bringing the freeloaders home with you. Keep your suitcase away from walls and off the furniture (store it in the bathroom if you’re up for that) and keep it closed when you’re not using it (and make sure all your clothes are in there and not spread around your room, Sammy Hagar). If you’re feeling super cautious, you can also stick your bag in a sealed garbage bag to help keep the stupid things out.
Consult the Bed Bug Registry and hotel reviews, but be warned: There’s no moderating on these sites, so do try to suss out whether it’s a viable complaint or just a cranky guest trying to get really passive-aggressive revenge.