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Traveler07 Jul 16th, 2007 11:08 PM

The low down on tse tse flies
Hi all. I decided to stop worrying about accommodations for a few minutes and worry about something else for a while. We're going to Tanzania in December so I'm assuming we're going to run into tse tse flies as well as mosquitoes. Unfortunately I'm one of those people that mosquitoes LOVE to bite. I'm already planning on large quantities of Off. But I've heard that Off won't keep the tse tse flies away. Is there anything that will prevent tse tse flies from biting? And is it really true that they're attracted to blue and black? This one is a legit fear, not just my neuroses working over time, as I was attacked by mosquitoes once when I was a kid (Houston in the summer and out at dusk with no protection) and I had a severe allergic reaction. I'd rather not repeat the experience, especially on my dream safari. Thanks in advance.

dssxxxx Jul 17th, 2007 05:23 AM

Can only comment on June, 2007.

The flies were a pain at 4:00 PM every day in the central & western Serengeti.

50% deet worked to keep them off.

When we did not use the deet, the fly swatter was busy at work. Habib said he counted over 100 dead flies one night after cleaning out the Land Cruiser.

They were present around wooded areas. Not very bad in the plains areas.

Bill_H Jul 17th, 2007 08:41 AM

Shouldn't be too bad for bugs in December since it's after the dry season. We've been to Tz in January 2006 and 2007, total of 26 days on safari, and I only saw a couple of mosquitos and only got bit once by a tsetse. In April 2006, after heavy rains, we did see many more tsetse flies in the wooded areas of central Serengeti but I only got one bite.

<b>But I've heard that Off won't keep the tse tse flies away.</b>

The two bites I got were both in the webbing between fingers where I had no bug juice ... areas with juice were bite free. The active ingredient is DEET and anything from 30-50% (which I think covers OFF!) should be fine. In some of our lodge rooms they provided small packets of bug juice which worked great and didn't irritate the skin and these were only 15% DEET.

<b>is it really true that they're attracted to blue and black? </b>

Yes, this is what they make the tsetse fly traps with :)

My personal opinion, based on just three trips though, is that there are millions of flies at times (like April 2006 after heavy rains) and in very localized spots there are many tsetse flies (so you avoid those spots!), but in general the bugs are much less of a nuisance than mosquitos in say Florida or Denali (Alaska) in June or black flies in Maine.

Bring something with DEET and lather up and you should be fine, especially in December.


patlanta Jul 17th, 2007 09:26 AM

First of all we hardly saw any flies or mosquitoes but we used Sawyers anyway. I did get bitten twice at the top of my hiking socks under my pant leg. I got velcro bands for my ankles on the upcoming adventure.

Otherwise, I believe I owe a debt of gratitude to Ann from New York on this Board because I followed her suggestion of using Bath &amp; Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint body wash and shampoo, maybe that helped--mosquitoes ordinarily love me.

Have a great time.

Traveler07 Jul 18th, 2007 09:15 PM

Thanks dssxxxx, Bill H, and patlanta. Originally I was going to ignore all the posts about wearing only tan, green, and brown since I don't normally wear those colors and would have to go out and buy them. But now that blue and black are verboten, I guess I'll have to change my tune. Gap and Old Navy, here I come.

Clematis1 Jul 18th, 2007 10:29 PM

Also Target and Sierra Trading Post (online). It helps to tuck your pants into your socks but they can still bite right through your clothes (they especially loved to bite our arms through our shirts).

Traveler07 Jul 19th, 2007 10:30 AM

Wow, that's scary. I thought if I was covered up, the bugs wouldn't bite. Were you wearing really light weight cotton or linen shirts?

climbhighsleeplow Jul 19th, 2007 11:08 AM

The worst bites from tsetses are the ones through your socks &amp; clothes because you don't feel anything until the bite and then it is too late! Especially near the feet and ankles.

I prefer sandals and short pants with short sleeve light-colored t-shirts (with sunsceen).

This way I can feel the tsetses when they land and swipe them BEFORE they bite.

As a result it has been a while since my last bite - a painful one between the shoulder blades through my t-shirt!

lifelist Jul 19th, 2007 11:20 AM

I've seen tse tse's bite right through a regular cotton t-shirt. I've also had mosquito bites through a bit lighter weight materials.

Heck, I watched mosquitos land on my shirt, and then persistently probe until they found a weak point to stick through.

Tse tse's are very persistent and rather durable for a fly. I've knocked down tse tse flies only to watch them recover from the momentary stunning and attack again.

I remember that my mom grew to hate them. When they were trapped in the Landrover, I would most often simply open a window and let them out, but my mom would insist on killing them even if letting them out was easier.

I used Ultrathon, a 20% DEET concentration in a time release formula, on exposed skin and I wasn't bothered very much. I had a few tse tse flies fly up my pant leg and induce a bit of dancing on my part, but otherwise, was o.k. I started dabbing DEET on the tops of my socks and botton of my trouser legs, as well as, the cuffs of my shirt.

Another reason to eschew black is that mosquitos are attracted to dark colors. I believe the theory regarding blue is that blue is the color of one's veins through the skin, so that's why the tse tse flies are attracted.

Philbill Jul 20th, 2007 08:40 PM

Do the 'Buzz Off' and similar brands of clothing help, or does the 'protection' fade as the clothing is washed in the camps? We leave in a couple of weeks.

theras Jul 21st, 2007 06:23 AM

Are there Tsetse flies in the Sabi Sands area? Most info indicates areas further north.


JaneB Jul 21st, 2007 11:32 AM

patlanta, I like both of your suggestions--B&amp;BW body wash and velcro bands!

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