Tips on Dealing with Black Flies

Tips on Dealing with Black Flies

Many people came into the shop this weekend with stories about getting 'eaten alive' by the black flies so I thought I'd offer my tips on how to deal with them.

For starters here are some useless tidbits of of information you may find interesting.

  1. Only the females bite. She needs blood for the development of her eggs.
  2. The life span of a black fly is 2-3 weeks.
  3. Black flies prefer cooler weather over the heat.
  4. Black fly breeding ground is clear running water. She will not lay her eggs in polluted water, which is why the Adirondacks have so many of them I'm sure.
  5. They prefer to bite around the head area but can also bite under your clothes.
  6. Black flies have an anticoagulant in their saliva so when they bite you it keeps you bleeding longer. Gross but ingenious if you ask me.
  7. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide in your exhalation as well as perfume and sweat which is why dogs and those exercising outside will get swarmed faster. 

This is my 7th season living in the Adirondacks. The first 2 years I sprayed enough OFF with deet on me that I'm surprised I didn't grow 4 more appendages or develop a brain tumor of some sort. I would not go out of the house without a can in my pocket and kept cans of it everywhere within arms reach all over the place. I'm not kidding, I had cans in the house, in the car, at my work, EVERYWHERE. I was the OFF poster child.

Then I realized at the frequency I was having to apply it, it seemed more like a black fly aphrodisiac instead of a deterrent so I decided that there had to be a better way to deal with the black flies and did some trial and error with various things, some worked, some didn't but my list of what did work can be found below.

In the time that I've lived here, this is what I've found works for me. 

  1. NOTE: Black flies are typically around from Mother's Day to Father's Day. Granted, they don't send out a text but this is usually the date range.
  2. ALSO: They prefer cooler weather over warmer weather. Once we get 4-5 days of over 85 degrees, they will go away until next year. That's why you'll find them before the hot summer months arrive. (2 years ago we had a particularly cool summer and had to endure three rounds of black flies. It was awful.)
  3. ONE MORE: If you're in an area with a constant breeze, they won't bother you so much as they are too small to fight against the wind. Stagnate and marsh area's with little breeze is where they thrive best.


Please sure to share in a comment below the things that work for you so that we can all be best equipped to deal with these pesky things.

  1. Shower the night before, NOT the morning of. This will reduce the smell of your soap, body wash and/or shampoo.
  2. Wear only unscented deodorant.
  3. NO perfume.
  4. Because they are attracted to carbon dioxide when you exhale - KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR PETS as they are often panting which just attracts the black flies! (Wagging it in the ADK in Old Forge sells Charlie's bug repellent for dogs - check it out)
  5. Also, try to breath in your mouth and out your nose to direct your exhalation down instead of out.
  6. It is said, and some people swear that they are attracted to darker colored clothes. Other people swear it's lighter colored clothes. I've heard they love blue, I've heard they love white but in my experience, I've been bitten no matter what color I'm wearing. I've found that smell trumps color concerning attracting them.
  7. It's also been said that they bite more often at dusk and dawn, I have found this to be true, BUT they will bite you at noon, they don't care, it just seems to be worse at dawn and dusk.
  8. My husband likes the Bye-Bye Black Fly repellent. You can find this at Ace hardware in Old Forge or Inlet and several other stores throughout the Adirondacks.
    1.  Adirondack Black Fly    Adirondack Black Flies
  9. Black Fly's seem to prefer behind the ears and in and around your hair line. (Granted they'll bite you anywhere, but this is their preference). Because of this, I prefer the bug jackets and hats - also found at Ace hardware in Old Forge and Inlet but can also be found at other stores depending on where you are in the Adirondacks.
    1.  Adirondack Bug Jacket  Bug Jacket
  10. Bug Jacket/Hat Tip - Get a jacket that has a hood and WEAR A HAT with it. If you put these on over a ball cap, your cap will keep the netting off of your face. You'll be able to see the fly's, but they won't be able to get to you. Na na na na boo boo!
  11. Wear thin pants. You can get sun on your legs later, but for now, protect yourself.
  12. If you wear short sleeves or a tank top, be sure to have a bug jacket with you. Otherwise be prepared to be top choice on the black fly buffet!
  13. NOTE: Just like anything else, be prepared for the environment you're in. You can still have a great time if you're prepared to do so.

LAST THING: Two tips I've heard about but haven't tried yet:

  1. Take fly paper and wrap it around your brimmed hat. Flies will stick there instead of biting you. Gross, but it might be better than being bit.
  2. Peppermint and Aloe Vera for sunburns. It's a gel that you would normally rub on after too much sun, but it's said that if you put it on before you go outside that the black flies AND mosquito's don't like the smell and will leave you alone. I've not tried this yet but would love to hear from you if you have.

Black Flies Matter Hats

Online and in the shop

Black Flies Matter


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    필리핀아바타카지노 바카라사이트: April 26, 2022

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  • Author image - 슬롯머신777: April 26, 2022

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    Patty: June 15, 2021

    HELP! I just was up in Bolton Landing 6/6 to 6/12 and my girlfriend I got chewed to death from them…we have scabbies in our scalps and on our necks and ankles feet etc…using caladryl clear and its so itchy I want to rip my skin off
    :( any suggestions for the itching..cannot take benedryl or I will be out cold!

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    Matt: May 27, 2021

    Thanks for the insight!

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    Sharon Rothfuss : October 04, 2020

    I have avoided ADK black flies, with Bye Bye Black Flies. The flys will try to get you but won’t bite .

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    Roger Schrading: June 05, 2020

    The article is helpful. The link includes a BB cap that says “Black Flies Matter”. While a cute play on words intended as a non-offensive joke, it trivializes the racist murder of black people. Apparently, you no longer sell the hat. Good. But the link should be deleted.

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    Deb Trichilo: June 18, 2019

    Great tips. I’ll be using them next week!! See ya soon.

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    Donna Montague: May 29, 2019

    My mom had good luck putting a few dabs of Vicks vaporub on wrists, ears, etc. Also head and shirt nets and bye bye black fly products are available at Charlie Johns store in Speculator.

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