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I am looking for solutions on how to effectively repel black flies while hiking or picnicking. In my experience, repellents that are effective against mosquitoes do not work at all with these ankle-biting pests as they seem to outright ignore the repellent while they feast upon my flesh.

Responses based on firsthand experience are preferred. I just got done scouring the first page of Google and found little more than articles stating "doing this may help" or "applying this could help" (ie, a lot of could/can/might/may/probably). I am most interested in the holy grail of repellents that will, in fact, keep black flies at bay without doubt, question, or speculation. Of course, if that holy grail doesn't exist, I'll have to end up settling for the next best thing.

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    Sadly, the best black fly repellent I know of is lots of snow on the ground... – Jon Custer Aug 14 at 18:36
  • I will never forget the apparition I encountered while in the backcountry some years ago. It was a woman, with long pants and sleeves, with socks on her hands, and pant legs tucked in. On her head she wore a sun hat with a bug screen draped over. She may have looked funny, but she said it was the only way she knew to keep them all out. This may be the next best thing to repellent. – Puddles Aug 14 at 18:58
  • @Puddles Then I think I am just going to look into one of those full-body condoms. If anyone ridicules me while on the trail, I'll just point and laugh at all their black fly bites. – oscilatingcretin Aug 14 at 19:09
  • repellents that are effective against mosquitoes Please add those you have tried. – user15958 Aug 15 at 7:45
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    @Michel Tags should be plural and there is basically no point in adding them to only one question – Reinstate Monica Aug 15 at 16:12
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I have never succeeded in keeping black flies away with a chemical approach. A hat is important to keep them out of your hairline. Long sleeves, long pants, tuck your pants into your socks. Yes, Ontario June can be too hot to dress like that. So you might want to go with something like this:

bug jacket and pants

A bug jacket (and pants are also available) made of lightweight mesh with elastic at the wrists and ankles. The jacket has a hood, and mine has a faceplate like a fencer's that attaches to the hood with velcro. I've worn the jacket (usually without the faceplate) for gardening at the height of black fly season and it works and is cooler than full-on clothes.

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