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Month of May - black flies?

South Jersey
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Month of May - black flies?

Can only travel the month of may, and wanted to explore the state specifically outdoors. We are hikers. But worried about black flies. How bad is it?

Ann Arbor, MI
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1. Re: Month of May - black flies?

A lot depends on the kind of spring we have for how they'll be in May. What part of the state are you wanting to explore and are you talking early, mid or late May?

Typically, the further north you go, the later the black flies emerge since spring is later. In general, much of northern lower Michigan has black flies emerging by mid May on a typical year. The U.P. follows that and it gets later the more north you go so parts of the U.P. don't have many black flies even into early June.

If it is a cold spring, it is all later and a warm spring it will all be earlier. The good thing about hiking in the spring is even if the little creeps are out, it is usually cool enough to be comfortable in long sleeves and pants.

South Jersey
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2. Re: Month of May - black flies?

plan on spending two weeks between mothers day and memorial day. working our way north to the upper peninsula. So far we have put on our list- mackinac island, pictured rocks,sleeping bear dunes. We want to come via niagra falls/Toronto or vise versa to/from new jersey.

Ann Arbor, MI
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3. Re: Month of May - black flies?

I'm guessing (and again, the timing varies so much by the warmth of the spring) that you're not going to encounter many black flies during that time with that itinerary.

Ask the northern Michigan and U.P. people on the forum in the spring what kind of weather they're having. That'll help you know whether you need to be prepared for them or not.

In my experience, the black flies are way more numerous in the U.P. than northern lower Michigan, but that could just be a function of where I like to travel in both places--I'm out on the beaches and rivers in northern lower more and in the woods more in the U.P. so if it were me traveling, I'd most want to avoid the season in the U.P.

If you do end up hiking during the black fly season I'll just say that I've learn the hard way the consequences of forgetting to cover the back of my neck while hiking during black fly season. If it is cool enough, wear a turtleneck. If it is too warm for that, I'd go for a mosquito headnet for sure, which I've done in the past. You look a bit strange, but keeping those flies at bay is worth it if you want to be out hiking during the season, which many people do.

Assuming it is a typical spring, I'd tour south to north since you're very likely to stay ahead of the black flies that way. If that turns out to be your route, it bears checking into to see if exiting the U.S. via Saulte Ste. Marie is a good way to go get to Toronto/Niagara Falls. I've not traveled that side of the lake before so I don't know if the scenery would be worth the extra drive time.

There's a Michigan destination expert that lives in NJ. When she sees your post, I'm guessing she'll have a lot of info for you on your routing, if that would be helpful.

Wisconsin
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4. Re: Month of May - black flies?

Different areas seem to have different pests, sometimes with similar names. Are these the tiny no-see-um gnat types or the bigger, sort of triangular ones? Now we could start a debate as to which is worse, mosquitoes, black flies (if these are the ones I'm thinking of) or gnats/no-see-ums/sand flies. Glad we missed them last fall, whatever they are.

Ann Arbor, MI
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5. Re: Month of May - black flies?

F_T--the black flies are sort of triangular and smallish. You definitely have them in Wisconsin. They are not the no-see-ums. I know some people react pretty strong to the no-see-ums (like my daughter), but even those bites fade quicker than black flies. Sand flies sting a bit when they bite, but they don't leave the big welts that a black fly creates.

I worked several summers outdoors in various places so mosquitoes don't phase me--I don't even notice them or their bites. Drives my family nuts that I can tolerate mosquitoes.

Bay City, Michigan
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6. Re: Month of May - black flies?

ME-hate them black flies. No-see-ums don't bother me as much. Depends on how bad the mosquitoes are. Wet Spring, wet early Summer- then the mosquitoes are ferocious in the north and UP til July or even later. (Not that they aren't bad in my area of MI either).

No bugs got ya in da UP, eh, F T? Good for you. :o)

Wisconsin
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7. Re: Month of May - black flies?

Yeah, the I've seen and probably had a bite or two in my life from the black flies but I'm generally not out and about when they are. But as far as the no-see-ums, I'm one of of those rare individuals who has a terrible reaction to them. When we were at Hilton Head, Savannah and Darien, GA I got welts the size of quarters and itching that lasted almost 10 days. I'd never had anything like that. I can ignore mosquito bites too, but this was enough to keep me awake at night, nothing helped. I was really concerned when we went to St. Augustine, but I used a lot of Skin-so-Soft, both lotion and spray and it did seem to keep them away.

So as long as we're on the topic, what about chiggers? How do those little suckers figure. I had those at Girl Scout camp years ago, less of a reaction than the no-see-ums, but lasted as long. Do you have those? Gee, poor Trailklutz will be afraid to come now! That's why I do my hiking in the fall or get good bug spray.

Bay City, Michigan
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8. Re: Month of May - black flies?

I never had encounters or problems with chiggers, with me or my kids. More of a problem in TX when we lived there, but none for us personally. What time of year did you go to Savannah and HHI?

Wisconsin
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9. Re: Month of May - black flies?

This is part of our spring trip to Destin (that I mentioned in our "Love Fudge" epic thread. We were there about April 9th. We finally figured out after the fact, why no-one else was eating on the deck of the restaurant in Darien along the river. They had over head FANS, outside. Dumb Yankees, only they would sit out along the river and eat--but we got to see an alligator.

Manistique, Michigan
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for Manistique, Curtis
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10. Re: Month of May - black flies?

This post was a question about black flies but it seems it changed to a chat thing.