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Ronan's report

Sunday July 15th, 2007

You can get too comfortable with the idea of being and Apex predator, the top of the food chain deal. Now and then, in certain circumstances, you realize that you're the king of that particular hill. Critters like sharks, crocodiles and grizzly bears help keep the human ego in check.

So, one thing that's so annoying about mosquitos and blackflies is their size. I mean, their tiny, but they are as serious about eating you as any crocodile, and given a chance, can kill you dead. At any rate, they can drive you to distraction. In New Zealand they have the sandfly,

their version of the northern blackfly. This is a nasty little bastard that in some bad cases can spoil a trip. .I don't know if it's actually worse than the Scottish midge or the North American blackfly, but when there's a million of 'em you don't really care who's got the toughest bugs. The Scottish midge, by the way, is a force to be reckoned with. I reckon it's what really defeated the Romans.

Norway has mosquitoes, squillions of them, and they're tiny little shits that can find a square milimetre of exposed flesh and start drilling in an instant. The fishing chaps there use various concoctions to keep them sane, including an obnoxious brown paste of what looks and smells like a mixture wax and creosote. And they smoke huge pipes all the time and live in a thick smudge of smoke 24/7. Seems to work. Well, that and the booze.

Canada can boast of some of the worst biters on the planet. The mozzies are maybe the worst of the worst. I remember jogging the ten miles out of shadow lake in Banff park with a pal many years ago. Ran all the way. Our backs were literally covered with a grey mass of mosquitos that lifted off as soon as you stopped jogging and created an attack swarm. We whimpered hysterically all the way out. My pal was certifiable when we got back to the car. Went nuts hunting down, thrashing wildly with his hat and killing every last one of the little bastards that got into the car with us.

There are a lot of deterrents, like the pungent Norwegian goop, but in my opinion only one effective repellant. DEET. Lots of it. I look for the 80% stuff only because you can't get the 100% DEET anymore. Something about birth defects.


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