Biting flies

(Note: My new bug jacket just came in the mail yesterday so husband Bill suggested he take a photo of me in it so you could see it. So here is yours truly in her fetching new gardening get-up! It works GREAT! You can click on the photo to see a more detailed image.)

Are you getting eaten alive by those little biting black flies? I sure am and it's really starting to irritate me because it's taking all of the fun out of gardening. Yesterday, while conducting an interview in the Spokane Valley, I was apparently feeding all the flies in the neighborhood. My poor head feels like a pincushion and is swollen in weird places.

I don't know much about the black flies except that there were tons of them last spring, so I believe our cool, wet weather has created ideal conditions for these little flying meanies.

They tend to bite right around the hairline or on the scalp more than anywhere else. I've heard you should wear light-colored clothing when you're outside, so that's an easy enough thing to do. I think the theory behind it comes from the fact that they bite all sorts of animals (primarily horses and deer), so if we wear dark clothing, perhaps the flies think we're just a big animal.

Yesterday, I've went to the web site for Gardener's Supply ( and purchased a bug jacket with a head net that zips onto it. That's what is shown in the photo above. One of my colleagues was kidding me, saying I was going to look silly in it. Well, maybe I will, but I think it'll be worth it just to keep those black flies at bay! Although maybe I should just work in the backyard with it on so neighbors and other passersby won't get a case of the giggles.

Anyway, the bug jacket costs $36.95. If it does the job for me, it will be money well spent.

The other thing I've heard is that there aren't any repellents that will keep the flies away. DEET apparently doesn't work, not that I want to put that stuff on my skin. It's possible Avon's Skin-So-Soft lotion will repel them but I don't know if that's true.

If you've come up with some good strategies for keeping the black flies at bay, please share your thoughts with the rest of us! You can either comment on this post or send me an email at

Update: If you would like a good laugh regarding black flies (you probably didn't think that was possible, right?), click here to view a 1991 animated short film on the black fly that is quite funny. I remembered seeing it years ago and was amazed to be able to locate it on the web.