Is it just me or are the bugs absolutely horrible this season? I just finished two back-to-back trips and was so happy to finally be free of pulling ticks off my pant legs, swatting at deer flies buzzing around my head and squashing mosquitoes from dawn to dusk. Combine all that with the heat wave we’re having in Ontario right now—yikes!


Here are a few items I’ve been packing to help with the bugs.

photoKevin Callan

Ben’s Tick Repellent


This is a new product for me. It became necessary when hiking in southeastern Ontario last week. The region is well known for its ticks, and this year has been especially bad. Ben’s Tick Repellent seemed to work well. I don’t know too much about the contents (20 per cent Picaridin formula, EPA-registered active ingredient). However, the bottle does say that it’s “a family-friendly formula.” I sprayed it on my ankles, boots and shirt collar. The spray nozzle is very handy, and the company claims that the non-greasy formula won't damage sunglasses, rain jackets, plastics or other synthetic materials. They also claim that it lasts 12 hours, and I’d have to agree with that. I did six hikes in six days, all in tick-infested forests, and applied it each morning before heading out. I never had to pull one tick out of me the entire time! My dog, however, suffered terribly. She had four or five attached to her nose or back haunches each day.


Ben’s Insect and Tick Wilderness Formula


This Ben’s bug dope comes with 30 per cent DEET, which is probably the best way to deal with any biting insect. I prefer it over all the other brands because it’s water-based, not alcohol, so less of the repellent evaporates off your skin. It also seems to smell nicer.



Druide Insect Repellent


I tried this product for the first time on my last few trips. It seems to work. It’s made in Canada and registered with Health Canada and the EPA. The contents are all natural. Lemon Eucalyptus is proven to be the most eective plant-based repellent available on the market. It has a strong sweet scent, which some may like, and others may find way too pungent. I found it smelled a bit like Pledge. It’s supposed to last six hours and repels both mosquitoes and ticks (and black flies). It also seemed to work well with the deer flies.

photoKevin Callan

Dragonfly Wingman


I picked this gimmicky product up at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show basically to get a good laugh on trip. I clipped it on my hat and everyone definitely giggled, and then they all tried to steal it from me once we realized that the darn thing works. Deer flies and horseflies are primarily visual hunters. They’re also a main prey for dragonflies. Having this decoy dragonfly swinging around at the end of the thin wire really did scare off the deer flies.




P.S. Read more from The Happy Camper in print

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