If there is one thing that can be frustrating at times with cottage and chalet rentals, it would be the bug activity. I am often asked as part of the first 3-4 questions, “how are the bugs?” Truth be told, location, climate conditions, time of year, and environmental conditions, all play a significant role in bug activity and type of bugs.
If you are looking for a private, secluded destination, far deep in the bush, away from noise and any immediate neighbours, in the middle of acres and acres of forests all around, chances are you will be “bugged”. Black flies and mosquitoes love the woods. It is their perfect breeding ground. So if cottage and chalet rentals in the deep woods are your thing, come fully prepared with enough bug repellent to deal with the annoying little critters.
Considerable amounts of precipitation, and pockets of still unmoving water pools, small ponds, rain barrels, bird baths, unused swimming pools, also offer the perfect conditions for the “larvae” to be laid and wait for the new life form as they come of age into their next form, mosquitoes or black flies. In your questions to your cottage rental proprietor, ask about still water spots. Inquire if they use BTI Briquettes at all to deal with the problem. BTI is safe to families, kids, animals and the environment in reducing the larvae levels in still water with no threat at all to the Ecosystem of lakes and rivers.
Late May and most of June is the start of the “bug season” in most parts of Ontario, and dies down in August. Early morning to just before the sun rises will bring them out, as well as at dusk, you will also see them come out. And at times through-out the day, depending upon the temperature and moisture levels of the atmosphere, will also play a part on their activity in your immediate vicinity and how much you will be “bugged” by them. Wearing long sleeve clothing and pants, hoodies and bug jackets can help a lot to keep them from “bugging” you. Giving the sun the opportunity to set completely can also help in reducing the annoyances of bugs. But also, light coloured apparel will also be helpful. White, ivory and light colours are in fact a deterrent. Bugs are attracted to dark colours as they are associated with deer, moose, bears and other forest creatures that are also dark in colour.
Other types of bugs that are also a factor in cottage rentals are hornets and wasps, and in some instances can be fatal. If you know your child or family/friend member is allergic to hornet and wasp stings, you MUST have the appropriate medical treatment with you on your vacation at all times. In the woods, hornets, bees and wasps have much larger nests and are usually much more intense in size of numbers. If you spot a nest, report it immediately. DO NOT make any attempts to dismantle or hit the nest, especially in day light. There are products in cans that can be purchased from a local hardware store that contain the right poison to close the entrance to the next and kill the queen in the fold, without allowing the members to escape or enter. However, these products come with explicit instructions on how to use them, and in most cases recommend the use be during the night hours.
Another little insect that is a huge nuisance and also carries a bite is the carpenter ant. Although typically docile, they usually do not bite people, but can at times. The real threat they possess is what they do to wood and rotten wood. They nest and burrow in wood, hence the name, and can hollow out trees, stumps, decks and yes even the frame of an aging cottage and chalet. Boric acid (basically soap) is what is used to get rid of them, completely harmless. It’s used in the treatment of the nests and surrounding colonies. The key is to find the nests and get rid of them first, before they enter the dwelling. Asking about carpenter ants in your cottage rental queries is not unusual. They were here long before we came and put a house on top of them. Best practice is to sweep up the floors and wipe down the counters after every meal in the cottage. The cleaner the surroundings are, the less food to tempt carpenter ants into coming indoors and into your food.
Spiders….creepy crawlers that can be more than poisonous when it comes to their bites are also something to keep an eye out for when you are vacationing at a cottage rental, resort or camping. One of the most dangerous would be the female Black Widow. Typically found around woodpiles or in rotting stumps, they are black with a very distinctive red hourglass marking on the shinny part of the abdomen. Their existence is rare in Ontario, due to climate, though have been found as recently as 2009 in Oakville, Bruce Peninsula, and some southern parts of Georgian Bay. More commonly found in cottage country are “Daddy Long Legs” and “Dock Spiders”. Both of these types of spiders can become huge, and do inspire a huge reaction when seen. Both are not poisonous, though they can be aggressive if provoked, so it’s best to just leave them alone if you seen them. Look out for webs inside the dwelling and take the appropriate measures to deal with them to avoid a future problem.
Ultimately, the best approach to keep the bugs at bay is to come prepared. Always have the right amount of repellent, appropriate clothing, keep the sandals and shoes on, and don’t try to provoke conflict with a large insect. Chances are they are not alone in the world, and where there is one bug, there is probably more. Ask questions of cottage rental owners as to the upkeep of the dwelling. Infestations clearly occur if a property is not well maintained. Don’t be averse to doing a bit of cleaning on your own if you feel it’s necessary. Be aware and be wise.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the CottageMe.com.
February 23, 2012