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Black fly season?

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Waldwick, New Jersey
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Black fly season?

Hello! I'm hoping someone local can help me with this question. I just spent the day selecting hotels and making reservations for a places to stay in Maine the week before Memorial Day weekend. Tonight I picked up a book from Fodor's on the Maine Coast and discover that mid May to mid June is black fly season. I've been in the Adirondacks during black fly season and still have nightmares about it. I wanted to DIE. Can anyone tell me if this is just as horrible? Would it be mitigated by the coastal breeze? Any advice would be appreciated. I can still cancel at this point and reschedule.

Yikes!

Central Maine
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for Maine
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1. Re: Black fly season?

Black fly season varies in severity from year-to-year....depends on a number of variables including temperatures, amount of casual water for breeding grounds, etc.

How bad is "bad" is also a very subjective evaluation....my wife has a far lower tolerance level than I do.

You don't say where your reservations are, but in general flies are less prevalent along the immediate coast than they are in the woodlands of northern Maine (which I suspect is more equivalent to the Adirondacks that the coast would be).... And in general, any wind or breeze, coastal or otherwise, does mitigate their presence. If you want to post your intended destination(s), am sure folks from that area can tell you what to expect.....

Not saying you won't encounter them anywhere along the coast -- but would generally expect them to be less severe along the Maine coast than in the uplands of the Adirondacks. Wouldn't let the possibility I might encounter a few of them ruin an otherwise great trip.

Waldwick, New Jersey
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2. Re: Black fly season?

Thanks so much for your answer. I feel a bit better now. We're staying in Bar Harbor (Bar Harbor Inn) for 3 days and then in Ogunquit for 2 more days. We're tacking on Boston on either side. I do want to see Acadia but we'll be spending the bulk of Maine time close to the sea so maybe that will help. So I take it Acadia may be a problem?

The Adirondack nightmare I encountered had black flies buzzing my head en masse. It was truly my worst nightmare. Bitiing wasn't an issue for me but that buzzing drove me crazy. It was making my skin crawl. (I'm talking screaming running to car asking God to kill me type skin crawl).

If it is the odd fly now and then on the coast I can live with that but serious head buzzing is out. So you think I'll be ok then?

Thanks again!

Bar Harbor, Maine
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for Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park
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3. Re: Black fly season?

Black flies---we breed 'em, you feed 'em. ;-)

As Mainer has noted, there are a lot of variables in the equation. This year, with what continues to look like an early spring on MDI, I expect the emergence of the hungry adults to start earlier. Generally, mid to late May through June is our black fly season.

Even in our deepest parts of the forest here, I doubt that they ever reach the numbers that you experienced in the Adirondacks. Because their immature forms are aquatic, the largest concentrations tend to remain along streams, ponds, and wetlands. They do not tolerate breeze/wind well (the same may go for direct sunlight), so the higher and more open the area, the fewer. Again, as Mainer said they really aren't much to worry about (unless, perhaps, you plan on wilderness camping along a stream),

If you search on black flies in this forum, you will find a lot of past conversations regarding them and various methods for protecting yourself.

Waldwick, New Jersey
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4. Re: Black fly season?

"even in the deepest parts of our forests....::snip"

That is music to my ears! I have no intention of camping in Maine or anywhere on the planet for that matter, so I'm probably safe. I think I can live with some flies, just not that Adirondack ambush.

I appreciate the answers. I nearly panicked last night so you've calmed my fears to the degree that I'll take my chances.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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for Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park
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5. Re: Black fly season?

Good. After I sent that, I got curious myself about some aspects of black fly biology and distribution. Check out:

mainenature.org/blackfly/blackflyinfo.html

and among other items, look at some of the composite seasonal maps. We never get above the "light or none" category.

Waldwick, New Jersey
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6. Re: Black fly season?

Very interesting maps! If you look at all of them you definitely see the pattern is that it is mostly light or nonexistent as you say.I can live with those stats. I also went through most of the reviews of the BHI looking for those who stayed in May or June and not one mentioned black flies. Since there were a few whiners in the bunch, I'm certain they would have blamed the Bar Harbor Inn for them if they were present.

Thank you VERY much for your help, both of you!

Edited: 03 April 2010, 17:22
Portland, Maine
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7. Re: Black fly season?

It's now May 1 so not sure if you're still checking this post, but I live 15 miles inland from Ogunquit and the good news is the black fly season is very early this year, We get them pretty bad because we live in the woods. They usually "peak" around late May and are totally gone by mid-June, but I just came in and they are swarming, so I expect they will be gone within 2 weeks. It's amazing, you go from not being able to go outside to nothing.

In Ogunquit - from the beach and marginal way to perkins cove - you're not going to have a problem. I may be going to Bar Harbor next weekend if the weather is good and I'll post and let you know if seems they are early there too.

Waldwick, New Jersey
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8. Re: Black fly season?

Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me that, I really appreciate it. I'll definitely be intererested in your trip to Bar Harbor as well. I'm staying in Ogunquit the last night before we go home and hope to see beautiful marginal way.

Again, thank you so much.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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for Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park
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9. Re: Black fly season?

We haven't seen much of them yet---but then, I haven't been walking along any streams. One of the things I didn't know until I read the link I cited above is that there are several species of black fly and they differ slightly in time of emergence---so what we get over the "black fly season" is a succession of very hungry females.

Waldwick, New Jersey
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10. Re: Black fly season?

Gulp...so what does that mean? I shouldn't get my hopes up? I think by the ocean I should be ok. Either way I'm packing the Skin So Soft. :)

Thanks again.