Black Flies, Mosquitos and Chiggers, Oh My!

Black Fly Bites from Adirondack Loop

Like Dorothy traveling down the yellow brick road, you don’t have to worry about being eating by lions, tigers or bears on the C&O towpath. However, there is a very real danger of insects feasting on you if you don’t take proper precautions. In addition, the West Nile Virus has been found along the C&O Canal.

To protect yourself make applying insect repellent part of your daily routine. When touring in areas where insect repellent is necessary, I like to use a combined insect repellant and sunscreen and make applying it my very first activity of the day.

Unfortunately, on my last trip along the towpath it was raining in the morning and I forgot to apply my combined sunscreen and insect repellent. As a result, I ended up with over 100 chigger bites. Riding the towpath or trails is not the only time to take precautions against hungry insects. While bicycling the Adventure Cycling Adirondack Loop road route in early June without an insect bite for days, I got over 60 black fly bites when I had to stop to fix a flat tire. It pays to know about the insects in the area and how to protect yourself against them beforehand.

Ken Whittaker


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