Bugs: I've sampled the same location, Big Horn Mine and Manzanita Trails from Vincent Gap (~6500'), seven times this summer, on 28 May, 15 June, 10 and 25 July, 10 August, 9 and 21 September. Biting snipe flies appeared in large numbers on 15 June and then declined, being nearly gone on 25 July. Annoying gnats were present in force from 25 July through 21 September whenever the wind was still and especially in the shade.
In detail, on 28 May Jane and I found no bugs, but on 15 June, the biting snipe flies were moderately bad. Interestingly, they affected only me and not my hiking companion Craig. When we stopped in the shade, I would have ten flies on me within a minute or two, and Craig would have none! The flies were also bad on the Manzanita Trail, but people reported very few flies on the Baden-Powell Trail. I put on my mesh shirt to protect me from the snipe flies on 15 June, but didn't need it in July when I found only about ten snipe flies in total. The annoying gnats were only in the shade on 25 July, and were much preferable to the biting snipe flies since the gnats mainly annoy instead of bite.
Other experiences this summer:
- Terry Morse reports from his hike to the top of Josephine Peak on 6/23:The bugs weren't too bad, except in a few sheltered areas. The top was another matter. When I arrived, I was instantly swarmed by masses of red ants with wings. I didn't stay long enough to see if they would bite, and found none about 20' below the summit. I have seen these before on the top of Josephine, and they make it impossible to stay on top while they're swarming.
- Jane found the bugs so bad on the South Mt. Hawkins fire road on 6/14 that she just went back to the car to get out away from them.
- Dave Anderberg reports on 5/25:I went hiking twice this week in the Mt Waterman area and the bugs are terrible at the 7000' level and above. Using your scale I would rate them at an 8. To achieve any relief you need to keep hiking or stop at a saddle or a ridge line where there is sufficient wind/air flow to keep them at bay. Even then you must face into the wind. A head net is recommended. I had to stop once to remove a pebble from my boot and even with fast work that only took about 30 seconds when finished I was screaming and running downhill to rid myself of these pesky flies. I also have numerous bites on the back of my arms and the back of the knees, which they seem to like and I don't notice.
- On the San Olene Fire Road above Chantry Flat on May 21, Jane found elbow biters (probably black flies), mosquitoes, a few Canyon Flies, and even so many butterflies that some flew in her face!
- Jane and I were a bit bothered by a small number of canyon flies at Mt. Hillyer on 5/15, but two days later they were intolerable in the shady spots and Jane ended up inhaling three on her hike. Two days after that, on May 19, only ~15 bugged her and her group, perhaps due to windy and cooler conditions.
- Terry Morse was bothered by canyon flies in the shady spots at Mt. Lukens on 4/28, but found none at Josephine Peak on 5/12 due to very strong winds.
Ticks: Ticks were present from late December 2000 through at least April 2001, and seemed very much worse this year than in previous years. Terry Morse picked up two on the Idlehour Trail on 12/23/00, his hiking buddy Roger Weingaertner picked up one from Trail Canyon to Tom Lucas Trail Camp on 4/7/01, and another hiking buddy got one at Mt. Lukens on 4/28/01. Jane has been picking up at least on every hike in La Tuna Canyon from February through April.
Copyright © 2001 by Tom Chester.
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Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 4 November 2001.