Tsetse flies

Mar 27th, 2008, 10:51 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 76
Tsetse flies

Our safari is June 6 to 22, 2008. Just 71 days to go. I'm getting soooo excited.

Is there a particular time of year & location in Tanzania & Kenya that Tsetse flies are a problem or are they a problem all year round and all over?

I could not find this information anywhere on the web.

What made this question come to mind was the post with the electric fly swatters. If the little buggers are an all around problem then I will be purchasing one of the aforementioned devices.

I am one of those people that must have a sign written on my forehead for insects that says "Bite Me". ;-)
llorear is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 12:16 PM
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Based on five trips (and none in June) I think you're more likely to see them in woodlands than the plains, and after rains rather than when it's been very dry. I would guess June is a relatively bad month since it follows the April - May long rains, sorry.

Seems to me they were very localized in that we were really plagued with them in one relatively small stretch of central Serengeti but not most other places. Most areas didn't have any at all.

If it helps reassure you, on three trips to Tanzania during the short-dry season (Jan - early March) I only had one tsetse bite at Manyara; in a January trip to Kenya I didn't see any at all. The worst we experienced was in April in Tanzania during the rainy season when the tsetse flies were really nasty in one area of the Serengeti and we were bitten a couple of times (and swatted dozens of others).

If you've been to Alaska or south Florida when mosquitos are really bad, or to Maine or the northwoods when the black flies are out then you've experienced much worse than you're likely to find in Africa with tsetses, I feel.

Bill_H is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 12:40 PM
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Bill & Sandi,

Thanks for the reply. I am not obessing about the Tsetse flies. ;-)

I just realize that I am a "designated recipient" of an insect bite, if there are any "little buggers" in the vicinity.

Having lived in and visited other areas of this wonderful world, I have learned to be prepared. By the way, I learned in Thailand to LOVE geckos. They eat mossies and spiders. I named the 2 that were residents of my kitchen "George & Gracie" & the one in our bedroom "Lovey".

Having grown up, partly in the north and visiting my Grandparents farm in mid-Indiana, where I spent a good deal of summers in my youth where they have Horse Flies. These buggers bite, draw blood, hurt like all manner of "he-double-hockey- sticks" and seem to be immune to the "bug juice". They appear to be "long lost couisns" of the Tsetse flies.

I now live in L.A. (Lower Alabama, easter shore of Mobile Bay) and we have the "regular" southern mossie, which feast from dawn to dusk and also the dreaded, awful "Asian Tiger" mossie, which feast from dawn to dawn, at least on me. Also, we have the little bitty Yellow Flies in June & July, which have teeth like Godzilla on a quarter inch body.

I used to wear Channel No 5; however, now I wear Deet with sun screen. ;-)

I really appreciate the suggestions on camera usage. I have been practicing using the various settings, including the video feature, of my Cannon S5 IS. Also, the Wolverine MVp 9000 back up, which I really like and got a great deal on.

Everything is now laying on the bed in our spare bedroom divided into DH & my luggage. God forbid that we get an e-mail that someone is coming to visit us. ;-)

Thanks again to those that have taken the time to respond to my questions.

I am so excited about this trip.


llorear is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 12:40 PM
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As Bill mentions, often in the woodlands. For some reason, Tarangire has more tse-tse than other parks... but that can vary by season or even day of the week.

June '07 when I was in Taragire, there were tse-tse, but they left me alone and munched on my guide. Though he was pretty good at flicking them out the window.

On another trip, in late Nov driving thru the Serengeti, they were around, nipping at my friend, but left me and the guide alone... and he and I were both wearing navy/dk blue (a no-no as these flies like to the color).

If you're an attractive morsel for flying or biting things, then just be prepared... zapper if you must as repellent doesn't work on tse-tse.
sandi is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 02:14 PM
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During 4 trips (mostly late May-early June) to Tanzania we experienced tsetse fly "attacks" only in Mikumi NP and even then only in select areas (woody thickets but even in open areas adjacent to same vegetation type but not in all thickets). Didn't seem to matter what we wore. Fortunately, we were not in those areas much. I was really impressed (and not necessarily in a positive way) how tough those little pests are. Amazed how some survived what I considered really hard whaps. Don't recall ever seeing them in northern parks but then again our experience has been limited to late May thru mid June period there.
rsnyder is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 03:07 PM
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Posts: 271
llorear -

Man! It sounds like you were born with a bug bite attractant in your skin! Yikes!

If I were you I'd go ahead and take the fly zapper and a it's batteries. What the heck - take along some spares, too! The gizmo doesn't weigh much and it's flat so it won't take up much room in your duffle. Even if you end up not using it that much, you can give it to your guide at the end of the trip who presumably guides pretty much year 'round. He will be forever grateful

doohickey is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 03:31 PM
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www.bugshirt.com is your answer.

It gave me 100% protection, and it kept me cool. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
safaridude is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 10:44 PM
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I've don't believe anyone has mentioned so far that tsetse flies are attracted to very bright and dark colors. We were told to avoid blacks, blues, etc.

My husband and I were in tanzania in February, and only had one experience with tsetse flies at Lake Tanganyika (which I highly recommend!!!). Though it was a different time of year and location than safari, it was interesting to note which one of us was bothered.

Out on a boat, I was in neutral clothing and my husband was wearing a dark gray shirt--he was continually bothered by a tsetse fly until he took off his shirt. So long story short, we decided that yes, color may actually play a role. In the Serengeti (Serenora region I believe) we did see large tsetse fly traps, in black & dark navy blues. (like large fly paper hanging from trees). We did also read about color in the reading we did prior to the trip.

Have fun! For us it was a wonderful trip and can't wait to plan our trip back!

luster is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 05:44 AM
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I am interested in this topic as well. We'll be in Tanzania and Kenya in mid-July. Any thoughts on how prevalent Tsetse flies may be.
lbodem is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 05:46 AM
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Hi Linda,
I too seem to be one of the people that insects gravitate to. Yet on my trip to Tanzania I was way less troubled than my roommate. I can't prove what the difference was, but here are 3 things that she and I did differently:
1) I avoided dark blue
2) I treated my clothing beforehand with repellant (not DEET -- the kind intended for clothes!)
3) I washed with eucalyptus soap.

I certainly can't prove it, but my impression at the time was that the soap was making a difference -- (some days my roommate didn't have blue on, and was bitten anyway. And I only pre-treated the collars and cuffs of my clothes, so I wasn't reeking with repellant).

Many times a tse-tse fly would light on me, give a teeny-tiny nibble, and fly away without really biting. I could feel it land, and feel a tiny prick, and swat it away, and never actually saw a single bite.

Meanwhile, my roommate actually needed medical treatment for some swollen infected sores.

And I also have no explanation for the fact that we were bothered by tse-tse flies for only about 4 days out of our 2 week trip (mainly in the Serengeti).
ann_nyc is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 06:06 AM
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I was in Tanzania in Feb. 08 and our only experience with the Tsetse was in the upper Central Serengeti and only around the large hoofed animals. If we stopped they would come in the cruiser and when we had enough we just got moving and they left. We also had the electric swatters and they were so much fun! We gave ours to our guide too so pretty soon they will be in every vehicle. Interesting though, I treated my clothing with repelant and was only bitten once on my bare leg while our friend was bitten many times through clothing too. It's not that bad of bite (you definitely notice and get it off) but it did leave a 1 inch light purple bruise. I was careful not to put on any sented lotion but all in all don't worry about them. Not that big of deal!
wildlifepainter is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 08:28 AM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

I am off to pick up some Sawyer's Permethrin to treat my clothes before we go (bugs don't seem to like DH).

I just happen to have a bar of eucalyptus soap, which I got as a freebie when my last order from Herbaria Soap came. (Herbaria Soap makes all natural soaps and they are wonderful.) It is now with the rest of the Africa "stuff".

Also will order the bug zapper.

Again many thanks one & all.

llorear is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 378
Tsetse like to feed on large animals that tend to be dark in color; that is why you shouldn't wear blue/black. However, I wonder how much that matters if one is in a dark-colored(?) vehicle.
Gritty is offline  
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