Elissa Boughen of Chestnut Park shares tips on how to survive bug season in Muskoka

It’s official. It’s here. And it’s no laughing matter. As I stand chatting to clients outside a cottage, doing ‘the wave’ as nonchalantly as possible, I try to ignore that small feeling of trepidation. For I know what lies ahead: Bug season has arrived!

Even though this has not been the harshest of winters, it still feels like spring has been a long time coming. It’s finally getting warm, the lakes are finally starting to sparkle and the odd hint of green is even showing itself here and there. There have only been a brief few moments though since the snow melted and that have truly been warm enough to get outside to enjoy what we all come here for: walks in the woods, yard and garden clean up or cocktails on the deck or newly reinstalled dock. Apparently there have been enough warm moments though for the black flies and mosquitos to begin their journeys as the true harbingers of spring in Muskoka.

As I plan my retreat to my screened porch, I think about the advice I give clients when looking at cottages or creating their wish list of what their ideal cottage must have: never, ever, underestimate the importance of a screened Muskoka room. If one doesn’t currently exist, is there room for one to be added on? Or a screened gazebo somewhere on the property? During the spring and even into the summer months, it will be where a huge amount of your cottage time will be spent relaxing and dining.

Muskoka Room


So how do we survive yet another bug season? Short of leaving town for the duration, or not opening the cottage until well into late spring, here are a few tips to help get you through:

  • Invest in good quality bug wear. A bug jacket and/or good bug hat and even gloves will help protect you and if cared for, will last for years. And you will need them. Every year. For years.
  • Stock up on insect repellent. There are many good options out there these days that don’t necessarily need to contain DEET to keep you pretty well protected and are safer for use on kids – products with essential oils and natural ingredients that if applied often enough, do work.
  • Clean up last year’s leaves from around the property. Limb back branches and open up your property to get a breeze through. Empty any containers lying around that may collect and hold water and clean out those eavestroughs. The less standing water or places for larvae, the better. The goal is a clean, dry, breezy property.
  • Did I mention the screened Muskoka room? Don’t have one? Get designing it now so you are ready to take on the season in style next year.
  • Look into products such as mosquito magnets, mosquito barrier sprays, bug ‘zappers’ etc that are designed to be used for outdoor spaces. Do your research, ask friends and neighbours what works and decide what suits your needs. I have had good luck with a garlic based spray that is easily available through ecofriendly stores or online – mixed with some vegetable oil and natural dish detergent, it’s natural and does give some relief when sprayed around the perimeter of any outdoor area you wish to enjoy bug free. Try an online search or have a read on social media – ideas abound, many of which sound economical and easy enough to be worth a try (the most recent I’ve seen suggests a sprayed concoction of Epsom salts, listerine and beer. I haven’t tried it but I figure if it doesn’t work, you can always use the leftover ingredients to pour a large relaxing bath, drink the beer and freshen up your breath when you’re through)
  • Check your screens for holes, doors for closing properly and train the kids and guests to ‘SHUT THE DOOR!!!’ quickly.
  • Stock up on citronella candles…they do seem to have at least some small effect and even add some great ambiance.

Bring out the games, the magazines and the books. Get your outside work done, come in and ditch the bug jacket, pour a gin and tonic and relax in your Muskoka room. They say the quinine in the tonic is a mosquito deterrent…may be an old wives’ tale, but one worth trying in my book. With any luck, a serious heat wave is coming that will shorten the season and we’ll soon be enjoying the outdoors with only a few pesky bugs remaining to remind us we are lucky enough to be spending time in Muskoka.


Eiissa Boughen HSThe Muskoka Lifestyle. It’s how Elissa grew up, how she lives today, and what she loves. Elissa knows this area intimately, from its lakes and waterways to its towns, villages, roadways and trails. She is the agent to help you find your way here – whether you are new to the area and looking to make the Muskoka lifestyle a part of your cottaging or full time living plans, or whether you are familiar with this magnificent area and looking to make a change.

With an extensive background in sales and negotiating, dedication to outstanding customer service, and a genuine interest in achieving the best for her clients, Elissa will help and guide you with your real estate needs and goals. Confident, personable and professional, Elissa has the local area knowledge and the real world skills to get the job done. Thinking of buying or selling a home or cottage in Muskoka? Let’s talk: 705 787 5463 or [email protected]