Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to avoid, deal with creepy crawlies

Carpenter ant. Photo courtesy
of Wisconsin DNR.
There are plenty of other bugs you might encounter on the trail, most of which are harmless, though children might find them frightening or at least bothersome:
g Ants – Their bites can leave a sting, and their crawling all about you also can be annoying. Avoid them by being careful not to toss your gear on an ant hill or by sitting against a tree with sap, which ants may feed upon.
g No-see-ums – These tiny biting flies live near water and sometimes fly in swarms. You can avoid them by wearing insect repellent and moving away from swarms. Their bites are innocuous beyond the itch and the some-times 1-2 inch red swelling. Don’t scratch the swelling or it could become infected.
g Horseflies – Generally the bite is harmless, but it can be painful. Clean the bite area with soap and water. A topical hydrocortisone cream usually will reduce both the swelling and itching. Liquid antihistamine (or for adults, a tablet) also can help.
g Gnats – Gnat bites are benign as well, minus the itching and swelling. Use calamine lotion to soothe the itching and don’t scratch it.

Related articles:
g How to avoid and treat mosquito bites
g How to avoid ticks and handle their bites
g Handling bees, hornets, wasps and yellow jackets
g Avoiding and treating chigger bites

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.