Buzz buzz buzz, the bugs are back in town. The insects of Maine serve as a reminder that it is the most heavily forested state in the nation, and you are in their world. Whether you’re a seasoned Mainer, or a noob flatlander, consult this list of the most annoying bugs before heading outside. Note to entomologists: I am sorry.
5. Mingees (also known as no-see-ums)
Don’t be fooled by their size, although barely visible to the naked eye these little guys are small but mighty. The ninjas of the bug world, they will go undetected until it is too late. I usually can’t pinpoint the individual bites because there is just an irritated zone where they have been grazing. They might fly through mosquito netting, so stick with bug spray.
4. Ground hornets
I don’t know if these are technically a bug, but they’re definitely an insect and definitely annoying. If you grew up in the woods of Maine, your first experience with ground hornets probably went something like this. You were walking along, minding your own business, when you heard a loud buzzing chorus from hell. Suddenly, you were stung several times by wasps from a nest that you, or someone near you, just stepped on. The pain subsides after an hour, the swelling goes down the following day, but the psychological scars last forever.
Horseflies are a medium sized bug that resemble a common housefly except they are more colorful. They attack by first circling your head 30 times and then land somewhere between your shoulder blades where you can’t reach. They have a pretty vicious bite that also itches. The good news is that they can be stopped if you are clever. First, allow it to land on your arm. Don’t swat it immediately, let the horsefly to be lulled into a false sense of security. Before it actually bites, slap it firmly and follow up with a wiping motion to squish it completely. Gross, I know, but this is war. Unlike a lot of other bugs which prefer wet, overcast conditions, horseflies–and their larger cousins mooseflies–like hot sunny days.
2. Mosquitoes (skeeters)
Ugh, skeeters. Being swarmed by skeeters will really test my resolve. If you have some all-natural bug repellant, this is when you throw that out and reach for Ben’s 100% DEET because you’re desperate. They make a distinct high-pitched buzzing sound when they fly close by your ear. I got bit by one yesterday and it still itches. I like to scratch the bite raw, and then apply Bite-Out which creates a painful but strangely satisfying sensation. Mosquitoes, if present, will come out at dusk. If possible, just go inside.
1. Black Flies
Classic. Black flies are the quintessential annoying bug of Maine. They attack in large numbers, hoping to drive their victims insane and then feed on their defenseless bodies. When they’re thick, like around the Moosehead region, it’s hard to breathe without inhaling them. They also want to fly into your eyeball for some unknown reason. There is a theory that if you were bit by them enough as a baby, you will develop an immunity to their bite as an adult. Black fly bites don’t make me itch, I usually only know I got bit by one by discovering dried blood on my ear. Nonetheless, they can still ruin a picnic. They’re just relentless and for that reason own the number one spot on this list.
Also worth mentioning are chip lifters, a grasshopper-sized bug that takes a square-shaped chunk of flesh when it bites. They are just very rare outside the North Maine Woods. In fact, most of these pests can be avoided if you’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time. Did I forget any? Let me know in the comments.