The Low-Down on Those Pesky Bugs in the North

Summers are glorious in Northern Ontario. The sun is shining, the temps are high and the dock is calling your name. Occasionally, the rain brings a sweet repose from the sweltering heat. The rain also draws water to the marshes, and other eco-systems, which breed some of the most unsightly, unwanted guests. 

You guessed it, I'm talking about the ankle biting, blood sucking bugs (otherwise referred to as birds) of northern Ontario.

Like unwanted guests, we have to politely sit through their "draining" presence to enjoy some of our favourite moments - ex. campfires, barbecues and swimming dockside. And while we'd like to re-send their invitation, they're a part of nature's bigger posse, which we have no trouble enjoying.

So, let's round-up the usual suspects, and the one unlikely hero: 

The Bionic Bug: Horsefly + Deerfly


Horseflies and deerflies are some of the largest biters, belonging to the tabanidae family. While the male tabanidae is fluttering from flower to flower collecting pollen, the female is buzzing through forest and marshland in search of blood for her larvae. The females will travel up to 5 km's in search of food. 

Most Active: Summer and early fall
Attracted To: Moisture, dark colours, movement, carbon monoxide.
Sends Them Packing: DEET insect repellent, cooler weather.

The Femme Fatale: Mosquito


Mosquitos have been circling the earth for over 30 million years. Over that time, they've clearly honed in on their skills for finding blood. Much like other biting flies, it's only the female who draws blood for eggs/larvae. 

Most Active: Summer
Attracted To: Carbon monoxide, body odours and temperature, movement.
Sends Them Packing: DEET insect repellent.

The Mad Hatter: Blackfly


The blackly. A fly so notorious in North Ontar-i-o and Canada, they write songs about it. These angry ankle biters are small in size and black in colour. They are most common in cooler, wet weather.

Most Active: Mid-May to June, peak at sunset.
Attracted To: Dark colours, moisture, 
Sends Them Packing: Hot weather, light coloured clothing (white, khaki), full clothing coverage, and DEET insect repellent.

The Ninja: No See-ums

sand fly

The No See-um goes by many names in Canada; Sand fly, midge, and punkie. They are small, gold in colour, and pack one of the most painful bites. 

Most Active: Mid-May to June, around waterways and sandy beaches.
Attracted To: Moisture, dark colours, movement, carbon monoxide. 
Sends Them Packing: DEET insect repellent.

The Protagonist: Dragonfly 

The dragonfly is likely the most beautiful fly in this line up, with brilliant colours and a delicate wingspan. But, don't let the iridescent display fool you. The dragonfly is agile, and has a brutal bite. What's on the menu? The biting bugs listed above. 

Most Active: Spring - Summer
Attracted To: Swarms of bugs.
Sends Them Packing: A lack of food.

About Jamie McIntyre

Hey! I'm a outdoors enthusiast with a passion for travel in Northeastern Ontario. Check out my articles for ideas on where to travel. 

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