Friday, May 18, 2012

Bugs of Nova Scotia

Since the warm weather is now here, so are the bugs.

A mild winter and a warm Spring have made the hatch earlier than usual. If you're not familiar with life in Nova Scotia, insects and other pests are part of life, depending on where you are. The picture to the right is a black fly and below is a mosquito.

Here in the valley we have black flies, stable flies, mosquitoes, ticks, june bugs, ants, wasps and an assortment of other creatures meant to torture mankind. Black flies are particularly nasty in that they give a good bite, they're often found in clouds that can actually kill livestock if they block up the nasal passages and throat, I find the bites to be painful, itchy and long lasting but of course I'm one of those people who just gets eaten alive anyways. Even a mosquito bite will leave a lump on me for a week. When I went fishing the other day I sprayed on Deep Woods Sportsman max protection bug repellent and still got a dozen or more bites. I should have used my old fashioned 95% DEET, I don't think they even sell it anymore, but that's what I'm taking to the cottage with me. For me the only thing that works is a combination of a bug repelling patch (worn on the skin for 36 hours), repellent and long pants and sleeves. Netting jackets for fishing and a hat with a screen are good too. Getting used to these new mosquitoes will mean that in a year or so I'll react less badly too.

Black fly season lasts about a month from mid May to mid June (Mothers Day to Fathers Day) and areas along the Fundy shore don't have them at all. Mosquitoes last from April to the first hard killing frost but may occasionally still be found inside houses. They are most active in July.

June bugs are annoying beetles the size of a nickel and a penny put together, they're covered in fine hairs that make them stick like velcro so they're hard to get out of your hair and clothes and they're a pest for a few weeks in May-June. They're also nocturnal and attracted to light sources so you'll hear them smacking themselves against windows and screens if there's a light on inside.

I have to say that my least favourite bugs have to be noseeums. Tiny little things that can pass through regular screening (there is such a thing as noseeum netting which is much finer) are a nuisance in the heat of summer and make a nasty bite, like a flea bite.

Wasps are a pain, literally, but we make sure that we hang fake nests every year and that seems to help as wasps are territorial and won't make a nest too close to another. Any mud wasps or ground wasps are eradicated immediately because they're just nasty and dangerous. Nobody wants to run over a nest with the lawn mower trust me, just ask Steve all about that! If they're living in the forest away from main trails, fine, I can mark it with a flag, but other than that it's adios amigos!

The worst areas for bugs are long grass and thick lawns, wet areas like lakes and swamps, and shady areas of gardens such as under trees and this applies especially to mosquitoes. Wearing light colours and trying to not get too hot and sweaty apparently helps in not attracting them as does Avon's Skin So Soft bath oil and Listerine mouthwash. Old timers used pine oil/penny royal extract mixtures, soot, mud and bear grease. We're so lucky to have different options these days.

If you're right on the coast, there are almost no bugs due to the constant onshore/offshore breeze. Even if you're on an inland body of water such as a lake or river, find a breezy spot and you'll have way less bugs bothering you.
The thing is...the bugs are here to stay. Learning to deal with them is just part of living anywhere except maybe Antarctica.Using repellent, wearing sleeves, and window screens are all part of avoiding the bugs.

My parents are coming this weekend and staying at a friend's cottage on Butler Lake. The front porch is screened so you can be outside and not have bugs coming in which is lovely because after a few hours on the lake fishing and trying to find a breezy spot to sit and avoid bugs, it's nice to relax and eat in peace. We're very fortunate to have friends who will let us use their cottage as a getaway and it's just far enough away to really feel like you're out of town and away from all the bustle of the city. It's going to be a fun weekend and I'm looking forward to taking Jordan fishing again. I'm also really looking forward to going to the New Ross Farm Museum and Rose Bay to see the beach and collect sand dollars. More about that later!

Also, if you're wondering why I didn't write about ticks, I'm going to do a separate post on them next week, yes, we have ticks in Nova Scotia.

**The Tick post was published Friday June 1st, 2012**


  1. According to my a local farm owner (my boss), the black-flies are right on schedule. He has been keeping a journal for his farm for over 30 years, and was surprised they were as late as they were considering everything else was about 2 weeks early this year. I remember last year, that my visiting family was being eaten alive by black-flies at the end of April.

    I'm not sure they are early for this region.

  2. Thanks. Since it's our first year, I have no personal reference and am just relying on the memories of others. Either way, I'm happy to report that despite clouds of bugs at the lake, the patch and spray repellent seem to be keeping peoples bites down to an minimum. It's still annoying to have them flying in your face though and I've heard those Off! fans work a treat at keeping them away. I don't know...we'll see. Maybe bear grease is the way to go after all!

  3. wow, I was thinking of buying property in Annapolis valley to build a house and retire but after hearing about the voracious bugs I am reconsidering. Does anyone know if the bugs are less bothersome on ocean front properties? thanks - james in Vancouver BC

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