Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi

Bugs and Bears



A rainbow in my yard!! But sadly, no pot of gold.

Bugs and Bears is my name for the season affectionately known as summer.  This season is all about biting blood-sucking insects and large blood-letting predators.

First, there are the mosquitoes that drive you mad with their incessant buzzing and biting.  When it’s too hot for them outside, their friends the horse-flies take over.

Did you know that a horse-fly can fly up to +40km an hour?  Maybe that’s why they’re called “horse” flies.  This means you can’t escape them when on a bike and you definitely can’t outrun them.  They flock together and fly around your head while you’re running.  It’s awesome.  What’s even more awesome is when they sink their fly teeth in.  According to Wikipedia, they have “knife-like mandibles to rip and/or slice flesh apart”.  How lovely.

Then there are the black flies (about 1/8 the size of a horse fly).  They leave a nasty bloody bite mark that itches terribly and usually gets infected.  And we can’t forget the no-see-ums (teeny tiny wee little biting flies).  I swear if you looked at these under a microscope they would be all fangs.  Their bite really hurts and they also leave bloody bite marks.

no-see-um drawing

No-see-um. This is what I think they look like.

Oh, and then there are the “pinchers”.  If there is one insect that instills the deepest fear in me, it is the dreaded pincher (aka the longhorn wood-boring beetle).  When I see them flying, I start waving my arms and jumping around frantically all while screaming.  I think this attracts them.  They also have hooks on their feet so once they land on you, they hold on.  They also bite when they feel threatened (they eat wood so they have strong jaws and my screaming makes them feel threatened).

longhorn beetle

I’m shuddering just writing this caption. Photo credit Wikimedia

Then of course there are the large predators – bears.  It’s cool when you see them hanging out on the side of the road when you’re driving by (in a car), not so cool when you’re on a bike or out running.  You really only have to worry about the sows defending their cubs, the predatory ones (yes, they do hunt people up here), or the ones you surprise.  That pretty much covers most of the bear situations you’re going to encounter while out running.

On a positive note, I get a great running tan (if there is such a thing) and everything is so green and lush.  Such a lovely time of year.

What’s your favorite blood sucking insect?  Does your dog get terrorized by biting bugs?  What’s your favorite running season?  Does your dog like eating grass?

white dog eating grass

Kobi eating her greens

Author: Angie

I live in northern British Columbia, Canada. I found my dog Kobi in 2011 when she was only 5 weeks old and we've been having running adventures ever since.

19 thoughts on “Bugs and Bears

  1. Bugs and bears are the story of my life!!
    I am now deathly afraid of black flies because in March I got bit and had an allergic reaction so severe my whole body blew up for a week. I also got to check “go to the emergency room” off my bucket list. Good times.
    Bears on the other hand.. I do get really scared I’m going to come between a mother and a cub. I haven’t come up on any this year yet, though, so fingers crossed.
    My new fear is mountain lions. They supposedly don’t live in our area, but there were two reported attacks during turkey season this year.
    And yes, my dogs love eating grass. And mud and bugs. And then waiting until they come inside to throw it up on the carpet 🙂

    • Oh wow! Bug bite reactions aren’t to be taken lightly. I’m quite concerned my dog will get between a mother and cub and bring her right back to me to deal with (as she speeds away). Mountain lions are scarier than bears! There is talk that they are here too. I hope I never see one. Your dogs crack me up. My cat and dog both love puking on the carpet, must feel nicer on their feet or they get better grip.

      • I fear the same things about bears and their cubs. Fortunately? The only one I ever see is a male (he has an injured front paw, so his potential for aggression issues scares me,) but since we took our bird feeders down, he’s since wandered off for another easy food source.
        My carpet is permanently wet from my steam cleaner be if from cleaning up puke or other goodies they smuggle into my house in their mouths. But I think my life would be so sad without them!

      • Be safe out there! For all the trouble our fur kids are, I wouldn’t change a thing.

  2. Your post makes me feel like I’m not running quite so wild after all. Having said that, Scotland is home to the vilest creature known to humans: the midge. It wouldn’t be bad at all if there was just one, but there are millions of them here, especially on the west coast. I must say that I really love nature, except for flying and blood sucking insects. I desperately run away from them, too, because that all you really can do with wasps and co, right?

    • I think running wild is relative. The scenery you have is wild and beautiful. I think midges are like our mosquitoes. I can relate to millions of them and they are horrible. I love nature so much too. Perhaps all the flying blood sucking insects just help keep it real for us (or help feed the birds – I like birds).

  3. I love how you put a humorous tint to a not so funny topic (; Zeke likes to hunt down and eat horse flies-it can be embarrassing if we are out doing something and he refuses to move until he catches one that tried to land on him =/ I like running in the few snowstorms we get! & he LOVES eating grass. He prefers the longer grasses, like the ones Kobi is eating!

    • Thanks. I like to lighten things up otherwise it isn’t as much fun. I like Zeke’s determination in hunting horse flies. I can see how it would be embarrassing, but he picked the right insect to hate. Snowstorm running is fun (if it’s just a few like you note). Every season offers dogs something they can eat, from snow to bugs to grass! The long grass must be easier for them to chew on.

  4. Oh my, be careful out there…or should I say be ‘bearful’. 😉

  5. Oh we now have warnings for mountain lions and bears. They are both new to us. BUT surprisingly Colorado has very few bugs. Yes the dreaded runner’s tan lines are here. And Sam is a cow, she must sample every type of grass we come across.

  6. How are you not a speed demon with all this “GO FASTER” motivation buzzing your head!?!?

    Last year when we were at the outer banks, in North Carolina, I would wake up really early to get a run in before our day of doing “beachy and sand-duney’ things” started. One morning, as I was looping the 1 mile historic section of the island that I felt comfortable doing, I met another runner who told me about a nice little “trail” behind the city building along the way. She said it was nice and shaded… I would love it. So I headed that way, happy for more running space to get the miles in on.

    Okay. So imagine – it’s about 0630hrs, the sun has risen about a half hour ago, and it’s already starting to get swamp-like swealtery away from the sound and the open waters. I’m loping along in my tank top and short shorts…sweating like a beast. Everything is kinda hot-hazy and steamy, and there’s this wonderful golden-morning tint to the world…. I found the trail just fine and made my way into a small forest-like setting along a wood path. Sounds beautiful right?

    As I get farther along the path, into more shade, I start to hear this tremendous buzzing – which was about as loud as an angry bumble bee. I swat half-heartedly at a shadow of a bug along my eye line, but don’t connect. Nothing seems out of place. Two miles down the trail, and a little over 4 miles into the run, I come to a stop at a fence. A heavy-duty chain link fence that blocks the rest of the trail and gives notice on how beyond that point it’s all private property.

    Bummer. Not what I was expecting. I was just pulling out my cell phone to take a photo of the really neat trail though, when I’m bombarded in three spots simultaneously flaring up in hot pain! I swat at my arms and thigh – killing what I discover to be a red colored fly.

    I’ve never seen a red fly before.

    You know why? Because they only exist in hell and that swamp forest in NC. That’s why.

    I’m bitten two more times before I decide, “fuck this noise!” and take off. One more bite has me running at top speed – yes full sprint – for a mile and a half.

    I cannot impart how much these bites HURT!

    Today I ran a 4 mile race…and ran a personal best of 29 minutes…my last mile was 6:45min…. I’m doing 5ks in 21:30 mins… that’s 6-something minutes… To. This.. Day. That mile and a half run through swamp fly hell is the fastest I’ve ever run…clocked by Garmin at 5:48minutes.

    Yes. I ran hella-fast to get out of there.

    By the time I got back to the B&B, I had a few good-sized welts raising on my shoulders and arms and neck. Ew. Yeah, neck. The hostess at the B&B then gave me an education on the ‘red flies”… they are little shits, apparently.

    So I completely feel your pain. Completely.

    Good luck this summer! I would quit running. Entirely. In your situation.

    • I am so grateful we don’t have red flies from hell up here (we have everything else). Nothing like a biting insect to ruin a moment. Clocking that kind of time is impressive though. I ran into and away from a bear at speeds like that once. And I know you’re not supposed to run, but fear does something to a person. My dog won’t permit me to quit running so I have no choice!

  7. Pingback: I’m so Cool | Outdoor Running Adventures

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