What's All That Buzzing About?

Have you been to the Upstate New York Adirondacks recently? If so, come prepared to fend off a frenzy of flies by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, and oh, don't forget the bug spray and bug net!

If this seems dramatic, you probably haven't been to the Adirondacks recently. From mid-May through early July, the Adirondacks are black fly season, and visitors and locals agree that this season has been pretty bad.

How Bad Are the Black Flies in Upstate NY?

Well, that depends on who you ask, but a recent Adirondack Reddit thread suggested that this year has been particularly volatile, and the pesky critters are everywhere.

One Redditor named RolliPolliCanoli posted: "Current black fly status: BAD. I spent two hours outside yesterday in a long-sleeved shirt and pants, and they attacked every inch of my exposed skin. If the black flies aren't bad enough for you, the no-see-ums will drive you batty. I highly encourage wearing a silly little bug net on your head if you don't want to look like Sloth from The Goonies."

 

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Black Fly Photo: Canva
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Another Redditor named Spirited_Scallion971 added: "I was in Lake Placid a week ago; if I had stayed longer, I 100% would have bought a net to cover my face/neck. I wore long sleeves and long pants. Luckily, they couldn’t get through my pants, but my neck and arms were eaten alive & the bites made me bleed & are still itchy!!"

It’s worth noting that the intensity and duration of the black fly season can vary from year to year, influenced by temperature fluctuations, precipitation, and water conditions.

It's Not Only Black Flies!

Another Redditor named L_aura_ax listed the four most common types of flies and mosquitos looking for blood in the Adirondacks, and they didn't seem all that concerned about the black flies; it was the "no-see-um's" driving them crazy.

  • No-see-um status: Hell Realm
  • Black fly status: I don’t even care
  • Deer fly status: annoying
  • Mosquito status: any second now, evil comes

No-see um's are tiny, blood-sucking gnats barely visible to the naked eye. These pesky little bugs can inflict significant pain; like mosquitos, only the females bite.

The dreaded "no-see-um," a small, blood-sucking gnat just barely visible to the naked eye Photo: Canva
The dreaded "no-see-um," a small, blood-sucking gnat just barely visible to the naked eye Photo: Canva
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If you're heading to an area in Upstate New York with many woods, you will be at risk. 

How to Protect Yourself

  • Cover-up: Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much skin as possible, including long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a hat with fine netting.
  • Tuck in your pants and shirt to prevent black flies from crawling under your clothing. You can also wear clothing treated with permethrin or glove liners to protect your hands.
  • Use repellent: Apply insect repellents like DEET or citronella oil to exposed skin every few hours. You can also put some on your hat and collar.
  • Avoid scents: Don't wear perfumes, colognes, deodorants, or hairsprays, which can attract black flies.
  • Use smoke: Smoke from campfires, punk sticks, and tobacco products can repel black flies.
  • Wear glasses: Protect your eyes with glasses or goggles to keep black flies out.
  • Stay indoors: Stay inside or go to a screened-in porch if possible.

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