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New York’s Most UN-Wanted: 3 Bugs to Avoid

New York’s Most UN-Wanted: 3 Bugs to Avoid

June 1, 2022
By Erin Trombley 

Summer is here. That means more adventures to mountain summits, paddles on backcountry ponds, and nights camping under the stars. But when it comes to being outdoors in the summer, it’s increasingly important to prepare for the irritating and inevitable: bugs. 

More than annoying, a number of bugs you’re likely to encounter in New York today transmit diseases that can cause real harm. So, let’s talk about the three most problematic pests, what the risks are, and then how to avoid them. 

TICKS 

Ticks are most active in New York between April and September but can show up during any season if temperatures are above freezing. In the Adirondacks, blacklegged or deer ticks are the most likely to carry pathogens, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and more.  

Tick-friendly areas feature tall grasses, foliage, shrubs, and brush 24 inches or less from the ground. Ticks can’t fly or jump, and don’t climb tall trees, so you’re most likely to pick up an unwanted tick traveler while sitting in or passing through a tick-friendly space. 

MOSQUITOES 

We usually think of mosquitoes as little more than a nuisance, but some New York mosquitoes transmit diseases too. West Nile virus (WNV) is one you may have heard of, with a documented presence in NY since 2000. Another rarely transmitted but very dangerous virus is eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). Symptoms of both WNV and EEE develop 3-15 days after a bite and can be difficult to treat. 

Mosquitoes favor areas with standing water, whether it be a bog or a capful. They tend to stay low in moist, grassy areas, places with shade, and low air circulation, like heavy woods or bushes. They are, however, equally happy to live in your house or tent, given an opportunity. 

BLACK FLIES 

No article on biting bugs in the Adirondacks would be complete without the black fly, also known as buffalo or turkey gnats. At the time of this article’s publication, the Adirondacks are at the height of black fly season, which usually extends from mid-May to early July.  

These pests are attracted to carbon dioxide and therefore swarm around your head looking for a good spot to bite. And while they do not transmit harmful diseases or parasites to people, their bites can be painful, itchy, and sometimes trigger anaphylaxis. The sheer number of black flies in a swarm, and their relentless pursuit of blood, can make them unbearable, and an adventurer can sustain a lot of bites in a short time if unprepared. 

We don’t want you to be unprepared, and we don’t want you to panic. To learn more about preventing bites from the three most unwanted, and what to do if you are bitten, read “Avoiding Bug Bites: The ABCs of Prevention.” 

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