Hiking insect protection is essential in regions with lush rainforests, wildflower meadows, and ocean tide pools.
While it is easier to avoid the large wildlife like the black bear and elk, it is the smallest creatures – insects – that as a rule cause the most harm and discomfort on the trails.
Here are five of the insects that can be encountered on the hiking trails:
Wasps and Bees
Most species of bees on the hiking trails aren't likely to be aggressive unless you mistakenly get too close to the nest.
Nests are generally well hidden in abandoned buildings, old animal burrows, and hollow sections of trees. Wasps and bumblebees have the ability to repeat sting, while the honeybee is limited to the single attack because the stinger is pulled from their body once used, which results in its death.
Wasps and bees can be avoided (or at least minimize the attraction) by not wearing sweet-scented lotions, deodorants, or perfumes, as well as clothing with floral patterns or bright colors. Store food and drinks in the proper manner using airtight containers or similar. Plus, sports drinks should have the cap kept tight at all times.
Nests are first noticed by the distinct sound of humming, back away from the area as soon as possible to avoid disturbing the inhabitants. If approached by a swarm look for signs of shelter such as a building or vehicle.
For those allergic to wasps or bees, make sure to pack an epinephrine-injecting tool in the backpack.
A hike with an end destination that leads to a picturesque waterfall or stream can cause plenty of issues if horseflies are nearby.
Bites from these insects can be quite painful and have the ability to transmit diseases like tularemia (flu-like symptoms) to strong allergic reactions. Other common pests include midgies or no-see-ums which are tiny black flies that can appear in swarms and leave behind bites that can itch and swell for several days.
It is possible to improve hiking insect protection by adapting the attire to match the environment. A pair of long-sleeved tops and bottoms will help to cover most of the exposed skin. A hat is worthwhile to stop the insects from feasting on the scalp.
Seek immediate medical attention in the event of the face or throat swelling, or if there is difficulty swallowing or breathing.
Mosquitoes can start to build up in areas near bodies of water, such as rivers, streams, and lakes. This type of insect can spread the disease to humans and pets with the activity most noticed near sunrise and sunset.
Use a high-quality mosquito repellent to protect the exposed skin from bites.
Fleas & Ticks
Hiking with a dog can bring issues such as picking up fleas in the coat which will later be transferred to the tent, hotel room, or home.
Once the fleas are in a warm enclosed space they are likely to start moving around and biting areas of exposed skin. Similar to getting protection from mosquitoes, a treatment product can be applied to the dog to help protect against fleas
Ticks are easily picked up on the hiking trails and rest on plants or similar foliage to make their passage to a would-be host a simple step. Ticks are reported to transmit several different diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.
Light-colored tops and pants can make it easier to notice the ticks as soon as possible and hopefully before they are able to reach bare skin.
Pack tweezers or similar tools in a first-aid kit. Avoid using at-home remedies, petroleum jelly, or a hot match.