Black Flies, Deer Flies, Horse Flies & Mosquitos: Welcome to Canada.

One last thing about Buffalo I forgot to mention last post. It reminded me of a 1998 film I saw called Buffalo ’66. The film is a comedy-drama written and directed by Vincent Gallo and stars Gallo and Christina Ricci. The title refers to the Buffalo Bills football team which last won a championship in 1966. It is a great story. Here is the trailer.

I left Buffalo on a super nice sunny warm day and wound my way through downtown, over the Peace Bridge and into Canada with no problems. After a nice ride along the Niagara Parkway I entered the Falls area and fought tons of tourists to see the falls. They are impressive.

Located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. The Falls was formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation (the last ice age), and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, Niagara Falls is very wide. More than six million cubic feet of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow.

The Peace Bridge connects Buffalo to Ontario. Here is the Peace Bridge from the American side.

A view from the Peace bridge

At the international border at the middle of the bridge.

Niagara parkway from the bridge.

On the Canadian side, the Niagara parkway and bike trail.

I met this couple on the Parkway. They were cycling from Chicago to Montreal.

Horseshoe falls with a boat that you can take to get closer to the falls.

Rainbow bridge and Bridal Veil Falls.

Horseshoe falls video.

Here is a shot of the trail that follows the south shore of Lake Ontario to Burlington, a suburb of Toronto.

I skirted around Toronto. Just don’t have enough time to hang out there. Plus it is a nightmare cycling into a big city like that. It was bad enough getting through the suburbs. Here is a shot towards downtown from about 20 km away.

I had 3-4 days of cool, rainy weather so not many photos. Just pedaled from hotel to hotel. But finally the sky cleared and I got a few days of nice sunny skies.

I left Barrie, ON on a nice rail trail that went on for over 20 miles.

I stopped to take a pee on the trail but saw this sign and decided to go somewhere else.

A useful device to have in Canada.

Most places have stacks of firewood piled up, but this is ridiculous. I overheard one woman say to another in a local store, “Why do we spend all summer preparing for winter?” The reply: “That’s life in the north.”


OK, I expect to see one now.

I stopped in one small town and there was a Mexican restaurant offering margaritas 2 for 1 so I had to stop. Bike touring can be so tough sometimes.

Typical road north of Toronto.

Lacking any better spot, I had to camp on this rock one night a la Fred Flintstone.

Finally, the bugs. My relatives in the U.P. (upper peninsula of Michigan) have been dealing with biting insects for decades so this is no big deal for them, but if you have not been attacked by black flies (midges in Scotland) horse flies, mosquitos and other biting flies it is a hell I would not wish upon my worst enemy. Fortunately I knew this was coming so I prepared for it. I first soaked all my clothes and tent in permethrin, which is what the US military uses for soldiers in the field. Next, I got super duty 40% DEET bug spray. I also bought a mesh bug suit, and finally I am trying out a thermacell butane fired repellant. These devices repel mosquitoes by creating a 15ft x 15ft zone of area repellent. This repellent, allethrin, is a synthetic copy of a natural repellent found in chrysanthemum plants. The devices are powered by a butane cartridge which provides the heat that activates the device. The heat generated by the butane cartridge is directed to a small mat saturated with repellent. Heat disperses the repellent from the mat into the air, creating the zone of protection.

So while I am riding I manage to keep away from most bugs, except some super horseflies that manage to land on my and bite me while riding at 12 mph. But when I stop I get attacked en masse. So this is where the spray is useful. When I stop to camp for the night, I immediately put on my mesh bug suit and activate my thermocell. It takes about 30 minutes for the zone to build up.

So far it seems to be working. But I think the bugs will get worse further north. This is a war, make no mistake and it must be taken seriously.

Here I am in my mesh bug suit and my arsenal of bug repellant.

I am currently in North Bay, ON. This is the largest town until Thunder Bay. I will be heading north and west for the next 680 miles, through some desolate sparsely populated areas so it should be interesting. I bought some bear spray just in case:

Notice it says “deterrent”. Haha. Deter implies discouragement, not restraint. Doesn’t give me great confidence. We will see what happens.

3 thoughts on “Black Flies, Deer Flies, Horse Flies & Mosquitos: Welcome to Canada.

  1. steve June 11, 2017 / 11:30 pm

    If the horseflies or deerflies enjoy dive-bombing the back of your head like they do in the U.P., small squares of fly paper attached to the back of your cap will immobilize them. You should be able to find a ready-made product or just improvise. Once you get a bunch of them stuck up there, they give you a real “buzz”!

    Also, cigars work well fending off the little guys when you are at a standstill.

    • Kevin Koski June 12, 2017 / 7:12 am

      I’m not sure about the flypaper but the cigar idea sounds good!

  2. Capt. don Sr. June 12, 2017 / 7:30 am

    Ha, I can just see you or Steve puffing a cigar as you work or pedal up a long hill. The black flies will be gone by the end of June, but the horseflies will only get worse. I’m surprised you didn’t get attacked by those pesky fish flies around the lake. By the end of your trek, you will be an expert on bugs.

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