Alaska Question - BUGS!!

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by shooks, Jun 19, 2005.

  1. shooks

    shooks Adventurer to be...

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    I'm not exactly sure where to post this. Apologies if this is the wrong place...

    I'm off to Alaska in a few weeks and will be camping. I just read an article talking about this year as a record year for bugs up there. So what I would like to know is how best to avoid them. I understand that standing water is bad and wind is good, but what else should I look for in a campsite?

    If anyone has suggestions for particulary good campsites (for bug or other reasons) that would be great. I'd also like to hear of sites to avoid.

    Thanks in advance.

    PS. I plan to go up from San Francisco via Seattle - West Access Route, Yellowhead, Cassiar, Campbell, Klondike Loop, Top of the World.
    #1
  2. Shlongdistance

    Shlongdistance SHLONGDISTANCE

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    Hello! If you can swing it try to go to Cordova. You have to put your bike on a train to Whittier and then take a ferry to get there, but then you can travel to and camp 1200 ft across from one of the most active glaciers in AK. The river is the Copper and it is an incredible sight.
    #2
  3. Sirby

    Sirby Sertao

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    A good place to post this one is in the Great White North forum, under regional.

    I am in Alaska, finishing up a two week tour. I found the bugs very tolerable until I got to Arctic Circle. I wore a Buzz Off shirt made by Ex-Officio, a Buzz Off scarf also. I only needed my head net at Arctic Circle where I camped. North of the Arctic Circle expect the bugs to be bad, real bad. Deet works. I only put it on my exposed hands.

    -Sirby
    #3
  4. DRZ400SK4

    DRZ400SK4 Long timer

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    Be sure to get yourself a repellant which contains 'deet'. Nothing else works well in dealing with black flies and mosquitos.
    #4
  5. solo xx

    solo xx Snobinista Gigantus

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    According to Consumer Reports, there is a new repellant by Cutter that uses eucalyptus oil. In their results, it equaled DEET in protection, for a longer period, and without the odor and greasiness of DEET sprays.

    I haven't found it yet. But then, I live in Vermont. Our supply train is running a few months behind. I second the Buzz-Off clothing, though. They sell it at the LL Bean website. Works against black flies.
    #5
  6. timtraveler

    timtraveler Adventurer

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    I've been traveling through Alaska and the Yukon for about three weeks now. Unfortunately, virtually all the state and provincial campgrounds are along waterways, in heavily-forested areas, prime breeding grounds for the mosquitoes.

    The Dalton Highway up to Atigun Pass was the worst.

    Other posters mention the solution that worked best for me: use a head net when hanging around camp, and a little DEET on the exposed flesh (preferably only hands).

    And ignore the buzzing. (It sounds like a hornet's nest!)
    #6
  7. Tantrum

    Tantrum Condescending Nag

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    My parents live in Cordova, my brother in Anchorage, and I grew up in Alaska. I moved to the PNW to escape the bugs! The Child's(SP?)glacier in Cordova is awesome but the bugs are a nightmare! Your only defense is to repel. I have not been to a place in Alaska that the little vampires arent swarming in increasing numbers every minute a plasma filled object ceases to be in motion! You will find there little bodies even when you blow your nose! You will require repellent or you will be eaten! Take it from someone who has been throughout the last frontier! Ill bring repellent when I ride through again!

    Oh, and have a great ride! [​IMG]
    #7
  8. KL5A

    KL5A Bugs are the new black

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    DEET damages plastic, so be aware that it can leave fingerprints in your faceplate and can eat away at the foam in your helmet. I can't comment on other personal defense chemicals but for the campsite I heartily endorse the new Off mosquito repellent lanterns. They use a candle to heat a little tab of repellant material and they actually work! Even at the KL5A Kompound where the bugs are the worst I've seen this side of the Arctic Cirlce...I just got back from Dawson and the bugs were nothing compared to my birds of prey.
    #8
  9. todler

    todler Todler

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    Just got back from the Dempster, the bugs were just starting to get bad. We found head net, long sleve shirt with gloves and long pants worked the best. It takes a couple of days to used to the buzzing. Make sure your tent is zipped up when you set it up or you'll be chasing them out all night. Bring along something to cover you eyes, it's light most of the time and can be difficult to get sleep. The Cassiar was in great shape and a blast to ride. Gas wasn't a problem, but don't push it.

    Have fun
    #9
  10. friar mike

    friar mike IronButtGruver

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    you havn't lived till you have see the skeeders above the arctic circle the black cloud appears and then its too late.:grim thay have a contest up there you put on a white shirt and wait for them to land this won't take long then swat yourself and see how big of a blood spot you get the biggist one win's if you call that winning.
    #10
  11. Malindi

    Malindi Zen Adventurer

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    A mixture of 3 parts Johnson babyoil (the cheap see-through stuff) and 1 part Dettol (cheap hospital disinfectant, available at Safeway and other places) will do the trick. Mix it together, shake well. The solution turns milk white. It's greasy, but it's not bad for your skin. It keeps the bugs away. Those that do land die because of the Dettol. I got this idea from a friend who used to tree plant up north. I've used this in Asia and Africa with such success that the last time I was in Laos I didn't bother with malaria drugs.

    You need to skake the bottle each time you use it, as the solution tends to split. Apply a few times a day. I have not found any downside to it yet.
    #11
  12. Nata Harli

    Nata Harli Accidental Tourista

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    What about clothing colors? I've heard that bright colors attract the state bird. Any truth to that?

    Also, are head nets readily available once I get up to Alaska?

    Thanks.
    #12
  13. Tantrum

    Tantrum Condescending Nag

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    Unfortunately, making like a chameleon will not curtail them. I believe they are attracted to body heat. I and know one I know living in Alaska have ever owned a head net. Maybe its some kind of "Im not a tourist" statement.[​IMG] So, not sure but they must sell them.
    #13
  14. ganshert

    ganshert not sleeping

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    I have several head nets. Pretty sure you can get them at most camping / sporting goods stores in and out of AK. I never had a problem finding one.

    Heed KL5s warning on the Deet and plastic. My tank bag map pocket has permanent spots on it!

    Don't forget your ankles, them litte f$%&ers like to go up your pants too.
    #14
  15. Gusgus

    Gusgus Banned

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    The skeeters in Alaska are vicious and far out number the new fangled mix and match insect repellants.
    I have been in Alaska for 22 years and have seen many "new" concoctions arrive with laughable results.
    example,, "Skin so soft, by Avon" It was said to be the only insect repellant anyone would ever want, the trouble is, the insects like it, in Alaska. Many tourists have been tortured beyond belief from a "new" repellant tryout. All from someone from the lower 48 using a whimp juice, which doesn't work here.
    I'm here to tell you DEET may not be healthy for you but it beats the alternative.
    Get Deet and use it. Get extra Deet and give it to strangers you meet, they will thank you in the long run.
    Headnets are mandatory for camp time and the emergency roadside tire repair. Even with Deet.

    I like Ben's, it works well even above the Arctic Circle. How do I know?
    I was there the 15-17th of June. Yes, last week. The bugs are scary!

    Good luck and please avoid any home remedies without a backup plan (DEET)
    #15
  16. Malindi

    Malindi Zen Adventurer

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    Well, maybe the bugs are badder, hugher and more blood-thirsty in Alaska then in all of Asia, North and East Africa, most of Europe, Canada (Yukon, NWT), the lower 48 and a few other places I've been. But it's entirly possible my home made bug juice won't work up there. Seems to work for the treeplanters up north. I'll try it one day and post back (but by the sound of it, I guess my 220 pounds of flesh would be consumed in seconds in your nexk of the woods). Don't knock somehing you haven't tried ... half of the UN and Medicine Sans Frontieres use this mix in Asia. And I can tell you, the bugs are the size of a good hamburger up there.
    #16
  17. Gusgus

    Gusgus Banned

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    OHHH ouch,

    I am impressed you have been to all of those places with your home cooked bug juice.

    I am only an Alaskan who knows what I have seen and laughed about for years.

    Tourists who brought some new product with them and couldn't even get out of the car to change a flat tire.

    I guess your right, You should use what ever you wish. The skeeters will be the judge, I guess.
    Just like it has always been. It is after all your blood to spill. But I'll bet you'll have some deet with you too!
    :baldy
    #17
  18. RDJEff

    RDJEff Lost in Alaska

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    This is rather funny! I've been in Alaska since '56, and I only use bug dope about three or four times a year. Just wear clothes, and be prepared to defend your face and hands. I bought a head net a few years ago, just in case, but haven't taken it out of the package yet. The worst time is when you are trying to do some work under a car, and the little buggers attack you when you can't defend yourself! Other than that, just live with them, they aren't going away!
    #18
  19. Gusgus

    Gusgus Banned

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    Hi RD,
    The bugs above the Arctic Circle in Canada's Northwest Territories were as thick as I have ever seen,,,, anywhere.
    A black cloud, obscuring any view. The little buggers arrive as soon as one pulls over to the side of the road.
    I can't claim to have been anywhere except Alaska, and Canada. But the bugs there during last weeks adventure were much worse than my hunting trips into the Woods River, Sleetmute or Lake Clark.
    We had a guy who had wipes,. You know the ones claiming to have DEET? I used 2 of them. They worked for about 10 minutes, then I was heading for the Ben's.
    #19
  20. shooks

    shooks Adventurer to be...

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    This is good stuff. Thanks for all of the comments.

    I think I'll give the baby oil concoction a shot, but I won't be leaving home without some DEET. Do you find that Ben's 30 is enough? Or do you go all out with the Ben's 100? Seems like the AK super squiters might require the 100.
    #20