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Keeping Kids Safe from Lake Flies that Bite While Boating: Tips and Tricks

Keeping Kids Safe from Lake Flies that Bite While Boating: Tips and Tricks

Biting lake flies can be a nuisance for boaters, but they can be especially problematic for children. Kids tend to be more sensitive to bites and can experience more severe reactions. Additionally, children may not be as aware of the risks of biting flies and may not take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. As a result, it is important for parents and caregivers to take steps to keep kids safe from lake flies while boating.

Understanding Lake Flies

Lake flies, also known as midges or chironomids, are small insects that are common around freshwater sources such as lakes, streams, and ponds. They are often mistaken for mosquitoes due to their similar appearance, but they do not bite humans. However, they can be a nuisance for boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts because they tend to swarm in large numbers and can be attracted to lights and movement.

Lake flies have a relatively short lifespan of only a few days to a few weeks, during which time they go through four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs are usually laid in the water, and the larvae live in the sediment at the bottom of the lake or pond. The pupal stage takes place in the water, and the adult flies emerge from the pupal case and fly to the surface.

While lake flies do not pose a direct threat to humans, they can indirectly affect human health by serving as a food source for birds and fish. In large numbers, they can also create a nuisance by accumulating on boats, docks, and other structures near the water.

To reduce the number of lake flies around your boat, it is important to minimize the amount of light and movement that can attract them. You can also try using insect repellent or wearing long sleeves and pants to prevent them from landing on your skin. Additionally, treating the breeding ground of lake flies, typically a lake or pond, can help reduce their population. However, this may not always be feasible, especially if the pond is large or under the ownership of a third party.

Recognizing Biting Lake Flies

When boating on a lake, it is important to be aware of the presence of biting flies. Lake flies are a common nuisance for boaters, and their bites can be both painful and itchy. Here are some tips for recognizing biting lake flies:

  • Appearance: Biting lake flies are usually small in size, ranging from 1/32 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch. They can be black, gray, or brown in color and have a humpbacked appearance. Some species have distinctive markings on their wings or bodies.
  • Behavior: Biting lake flies are most active during the day, especially in sunny and windy conditions. They tend to congregate in large swarms near the water’s surface, where they feed on the blood of humans and animals.
  • Bite Symptoms: Biting lake flies have sharp mouthparts that can penetrate the skin and cause pain, swelling, and itching. In some cases, the bites can also lead to allergic reactions, infections, or transmission of diseases.
  • Location: Biting lake flies are typically found near bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. They are attracted to areas with high humidity, organic matter, and standing water.

To avoid getting bitten by lake flies, it is recommended to wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks, use insect repellents, and avoid areas with high fly activity. If you do get bitten, wash the affected area with soap and water, apply a cold compress or calamine lotion, and seek medical attention if necessary.

Potential Risks of Biting Lake Flies

Biting lake flies can pose several potential risks to children while boating. Here are some of the risks associated with these insects:

Health Hazards

Biting lake flies can carry diseases, which can be transmitted to humans through their bites. While the risk of contracting a disease from a biting lake fly is low, it is still important to take precautions to avoid being bitten.

Allergic Reactions

Some children may be allergic to the bites of biting lake flies. An allergic reaction can cause symptoms such as swelling, redness, and itching. In severe cases, an allergic reaction can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

To reduce the risk of allergic reactions, parents should monitor their children for signs of bites and seek medical attention if they notice any unusual symptoms.

Preventive Measures While Boating

When it comes to preventing kids from getting bitten by lake flies while boating, there are several measures that can be taken. These measures include the use of protective clothing, application of insect repellents, and optimal boating times.

Use of Protective Clothing

One of the most effective ways to prevent kids from getting bitten by lake flies while boating is to use protective clothing. This includes long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. Additionally, wearing light-colored clothing can help to reduce the attraction of flies.

Application of Insect Repellents

Another way to prevent kids from getting bitten by lake flies while boating is to apply insect repellents. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus have been shown to be effective against flies. However, it is important to follow the instructions on the product label carefully and to avoid applying the repellent to the hands, eyes, and mouth.

Optimal Boating Times

Choosing the right time of day to go boating can also help to prevent kids from getting bitten by lake flies. Flies tend to be most active during the daytime, so boating during early morning or late afternoon hours may help to reduce the risk of bites. Additionally, avoiding areas with standing water or high levels of vegetation can help to reduce the presence of flies.

First Aid for Lake Fly Bites

Lake flies are pesky insects that can cause painful bites. While it is important to take preventative measures to avoid getting bitten in the first place, sometimes it is unavoidable. In the event of a lake fly bite, it is important to know how to properly respond.

Immediate Response

The immediate response to a lake fly bite should be to clean the affected area with soap and water. This will help to remove any dirt or bacteria that may have entered the wound. Applying a cold compress to the bite can help to reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also be taken as needed.

Seeking Medical Attention

Most lake fly bites are not serious and can be treated at home with the above measures. However, in some cases, medical attention may be necessary. Seek medical care if the swelling gets worse, the site shows signs of infection, or you experience symptoms such as fever, chills, or difficulty breathing.

If the individual who has been bitten has a known allergy to insect bites, seek medical attention immediately. An allergic reaction can cause symptoms such as swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, difficulty breathing, or a rapid heartbeat. In severe cases, anaphylaxis can occur, which is a life-threatening emergency.

It is important to note that while lake flies can be a nuisance, they are not known to transmit any serious diseases to humans. However, it is still important to take preventative measures to avoid getting bitten and to properly respond in the event of a bite.

Educating Kids About Lake Fly Safety

Boating is a fun activity, but it can also be dangerous if proper safety measures are not taken. One of the safety concerns while boating is the presence of lake flies that bite. These flies can cause discomfort and even lead to infections. Therefore, it is important to educate kids about lake fly safety to ensure they enjoy their boating experience while staying safe.

Wear Protective Clothing

The first step in protecting kids from lake flies is to ensure they wear protective clothing. This includes long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks. Additionally, it is recommended to wear light-colored clothing as dark colors attract flies. Wearing a hat and sunglasses can also help protect the face and eyes from the flies.

Use Insect Repellent

Insect repellent is another effective way to keep lake flies away. Choose a repellent that is safe for kids and apply it before going out on the boat. Reapply the repellent as needed, especially if the kids get wet. It is important to follow the instructions on the repellent bottle to ensure effective protection.

Avoid Certain Areas

Lake flies are more common in certain areas of the lake, such as near the shore or in areas with stagnant water. Educate kids to avoid these areas and stay in the middle of the lake while boating. It is also important to avoid boating during peak fly season, which is usually in the summer months.

Proper Hygiene

After boating, it is important to clean up properly to prevent infections from fly bites. Encourage kids to wash their hands and any exposed skin with soap and water after coming in contact with lake flies. Additionally, it is recommended to take a shower after boating to ensure all flies are removed from the skin.

By educating kids about lake fly safety, parents can ensure their kids have a fun and safe boating experience. Remember to always prioritize safety and take necessary precautions to prevent any accidents or injuries.


In conclusion, keeping kids safe from lake flies that bite while boating is crucial to ensure their health and well-being. By following the tips and guidelines provided in this article, parents and guardians can help protect their children from the harmful effects of biting flies.