Close

Tag Archive for: Nature

No me moleste mosquito – Dodging the mozzies!

No me moleste mosquito – Dodging the mozzies!

Summer is synonymous with warm weather, swimming in the lake, camping, kicking back on the patio, ice cream…and those blasted mosquitoes! To support peaceful cohabitation with these tiny creatures while fully enjoying your time in the outdoors, we’ve a few suggestions for all you potential blood donors: some tips for keeping them at bay and a relief plan if you aren’t successful.

How do mosquitoes select their victims?

There has been a lot of research done to determine what exactly attracts mosquitoes when they’re out looking for blood and whether some folks are more likely to get bitten than others. Although it’s a complex subject, there are some certainties to share.

Mosquitoes are primarily attracted to carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas we exhale in the process of breathing. Once mozzies have zeroed in on their blood donor, guided by their CO2 emissions, they then proceed to the next level of selection based on a number of factors.

First of all, mozzies love heat. The more heat you give off, the more they love you. Which is why it is recommended that you wear light-coloured clothing to ward off mosquitoes. Dark colours retain heat more easily so people wearing dark clothing will produce more heat and be more attractive to the mozzies. They also enjoy people who are physically active or just hotter by nature.

Smell is also very important in how mozzies choose their blood donors. Their sense of smell is actually so powerful that they can pick up about 150 different odours that emanate from the body – not all detectable by humans. The components of perspiration, skin bacteria and other smells the body gives off are all factors in how attractive an odour is to mozzies. In fact, certain perfumes and cholesterol (!) even feature among their preferences.

Another thing mozzies really love, over which you have no control, is your blood type. Japanese researchers have shown that mosquitoes have a penchant for blood type O because it’s high-protein.

A study of the correlation between drinks consumed and the frequency of mosquito bites showed that people who drink alcohol, particularly, beer, have a greater chance of being bitten than those who drink water.

How to avoid mosquitoes

Pick your times for heading outdoors.

Since mosquitoes are more plentiful in the spring (especially when it’s a wet one), at dawn, dusk and after it rains, it’s best to remain indoors then. Being on or in the water and out in the wind are good ways to escape from mozzies.

Wear light rather than dark or coloured clothing.

Dark colours absorb the heat (remember, mosquitoes are drawn to heat) and bright colours are easily picked up by mosquitoes’ photosensitive eyes.

Avoid perfumes, soaps, fragrant creams and aftershave.

As mentioned earlier, mosquitoes decide whether a blood donor is tasty or not based on their body odour.

Stay zen!

The more agitated you are, the more heat you give off and the more appealing you are to the mozzies.

Apply insect repellent, preferably on your clothes.

Commercially available insect repellents sold in stores often contain DEET, a chemical that scares off mosquitoes. The concentrations of DEET depend on the repellent. The concentration won’t affect the effectiveness of the repellent, but the duration. An insect repellent containing 30% DEET will last six (6) hours while a concentration of 10%, will last about three (3) hours. Insect repellent containing DEET is not recommended for children under a year old.

There are also natural and homemade insect repellents. Once again, it’s a matter of how long it lasts. Citronella, lemon eucalyptus oil and rose geranium are three essential oils that mozzies really don’t care for. They can be mixed with vegetable oil and applied to the body or put in a diffuser to keep mozzies away. Again, essential oil should not be applied directly on children’s skin.

How to find relief from mosquito bites

Despite all these helpful tips, a few mozzies may try to draw out some of your blood, because there’s one thing that attracts them that you’re better off not doing anything about: breathing!

So, if you get bitten and the itch is unbearable, here are a few ways of finding some relief:

  • Apply ice to the bite. The cold will contract your blood vessels which in turn helps to reduce the swelling and numb the skin, thereby decreasing your discomfort.
  • Apply a cotton pad soaked in vinegar to the bite for 30 minutes. Vinegar is a natural antiseptic with anti-itch properties.
  • Apply aloe gel on the bites. Aloe works real magic when it comes to healing skin! It also has a cooling, soothing effect that helps you to resist scratching your itch.
  • Apply essential oil of spike lavender or real lavender (lavanda angustifolia) on your bites. This essential oil is also found in many natural mosquito repellent recipes.

Still looking for more tips to keep mozzies away or relieve their bites? Visit our Camping page on Pinterest [French only]: https://www.pinterest.ca/tourismevaldor6562/camping/

I hope you’ve found this helpful. Now, you might feel that you are better equipped to fight off mozzies effectively, instead of just madly waving your hands around in the air with annoyance. My intention is for this information to have the best possible experience in the fresh air and the great outdoors this summer!

 

Cover picture | Manlake Gabriel

Dodging mosquitoes
Birds to watch for in the forests of Abitibi-Témiscamingue in winter

Birds to watch for in the forests of Abitibi-Témiscamingue in winter

There are countless ways to enjoy Val-d’Or all year long. In winter, outdoor activities are very popular, which include taking a walk in the woods. Nothing quite compares to the joy of getting some fresh air and immersing yourself in Nature. Although most birds head south in winter, to escape the snow, some of the hardier ones stay behind, enhancing our local forests with their own special beauty, to everyone’s delight. You can take photos and even feed them. Here are eight birds you can see in the woods of Val-d’Or during our colder months.

Brown Creeper

This little bird is brown on the upper parts with light spotting, distinguishable by its long thin bill, eyebrows and white underparts. The creeper can often go un-noticed due to the fact that this bird, which forages for food on tree trunks, blends in so well it appears to be part of the tree bark. Sunflower seeds are a big hit with creepers.

Ruffed Grouse

Sometimes incorrectly referred to as a partridge, the ruffed grouse is a ground-dwelling bird, often found close to tree trunks.  About the size of a small chicken, the grouse’s dappled and barred plumage ranges in colour from pale grey through to reddish brown. The male fans its tail to seduce females. It is a relatively shy bird, but you can get closer for a peek if it happens to be perched in a tree. Click here to hear the song of the ruffed grouse so you know what to listen for when you’re out in our woods:

Common Redpoll

What makes this little seed-eating bird quite distinctive are its pinky-dappled breast and the dash of red on top of its head. Its short, pointy, yellowish beak is perfectly designed for getting at tree seeds (particularly, birch seeds), its primary food source. Redpolls can be seen hanging out at birdfeeders in the winter and they enjoy all kinds of birdseed. Click here to hear its song.

Blue Jay

Long before it became the emblem for Toronto’s baseball team, this bird was a resident of Quebec and the great forests of Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Its magnificent plumage is bright blue overall, with some touches of grey. It is a friendly bird that enjoys being around humans. Its shrill call makes it easy to recognize. Click here to have a listen of its song.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

As its name implies, this bird’s red breast makes it easy to identify. Another distinguishing feature is the black band across its eyes. Its main sources of food are coniferous seeds, suet and birdseed from feeders. Sunflowers are a big hit with these little birds. Click here to hear its song.

Gray Jay

Mésangeai du canada abitibi temiscamingue valdor observer oiseaux

Photo | CC BY-SA 3.0

This bird, also known as the Canada jay, can live up to 19 years! Its plumage varies from white to gray, with touches of blue on its tail. It can be up to 23 cm long. Often mistaken for a magpie, the gray jay is omnivorous. To make it easier for you to identify, click here to hear its song.

Pine Siskin

This bird is brown and streaky overall with subtle yellow edgings and a pointed tail. They tend to roam in twittering flocks; in fact, in winter, they can live together in groups of as many as 50 individuals. The pine siskin eats all kinds of seeds. Click here to hear their song so that it is easier to identify them.

Black-Capped Chickadee

oiseau à observer forêts abitibi temiscamingue

Photo | Mary C Kirby “shurdbug”

This is the most common of the American chickadees and definitely the best known bird in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Its black cap and white sides to the face make it easy to identify. Sometimes, it has bluish highlights on its off-yellow flanks. Black-capped chickadees are curious and congenial birds that won’t hesitate to eat out of your hand if you offer some sunflower seeds. Their vocalization is very distinctive. Click here to hear its song.

With a bag of seed, a good sense of observation and some patience, your walk in the forest can become a veritable ornithological adventure! Nature is our playground and Val-d’Or and Abitibi-Témiscamingue are ample proof of that. Come see for yourself!

To see more photos of birds that live in our beautiful forests, I would suggest Raymond Ladurantaye’s work. Raymond is a photographer and avid birdwatcher from Val-d’Or. Check out his images by clicking here.

Observation oiseaux Abitibi-Témiscamingue Val-d'Or hiver
God Bless Snowmobiling – 10 reasons why snowmobilers should visit us

God Bless Snowmobiling – 10 reasons why snowmobilers should visit us

There are several magnificent snowmobiling locations in Quebec, but Abitibi-Témiscamingue is in a class by itself. Our wide, meandering trails are safe and so extensive, chances are you won’t see another person all day, even though there are hundreds of snowmobilers out there. Our region is a snowmobiler’s paradise! Snowmobiling is highly important in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, both for residents and visitors. Not only is it rooted in our culture, it is the main tourist attraction during the winter months, making a substantial contribution to the regional economy. Below are ten reasons why snowmobilers should visit Val-d’Or and the surrounding area, and why we should all exclaim: God Bless Snowmobiling!

International Reputation

With its wide open spaces and long winter season, Quebec is snowmobiling heaven. Tourists from around the world are visiting Quebec to snowmobile in increasing numbers. In the 2012-2013 winter season 3,329 Americans, 5,308 Canadians from outside Quebec and 88,535 Quebeckers bought snowmobile permits (TAT, 2014), with Abitibi-Témiscamingue ranking third for the number of permit sales after Outaouais and Lanaudière. Top snowmobiling magazine Supertrax International has more than once named Abitibi-Témiscamingue one of the best snowmobile destinations, and awarded it first place in 2010 and 2011. The region is also receiving high praise from other quarters, and growing numbers of journalists, experts, bloggers and other visitors to the region are unanimous: snowmobiling in Abitibi-Témiscamingue is an unforgettable experience!

An Excellent Reason to Enjoy the Outdoors!

There is only one thing to do when there are wide, meandering trails and breathtaking natural panoramas on your doorstep: spend the day outdoors snowmobiling! The benefits of the outdoors are many: more energy, less stress, sound sleep and a hearty appetite, in addition to wonderful memories to take home.

Top Quality Trails

Abitibi-Témiscamingue, known for its wide, meandering snowmobile trails and breathtaking scenery, is one of the most popular snowmobile destinations in the world. With 3,700 km of trails, snowmobiling is a top tourist attraction and the number-one tourism product during the winter. Snowmobilers can cover long distances without crossing roads and love both the variety of trails (straight and curved) and the sense that they have the trails all to themselves. It is rare to encounter other snowmobilers, even when there are several enjoying the trails at the same time.

snowmobiling trails Abitibi Val-d'Or

A Longer Season

Winter 2016 was unusual for its late start. Generally, snowmobile season opens in Abitibi-Témiscamingue approximately two weeks earlier than in many other Quebec regions, and ends two weeks later, offering snowmobilers an important extra month of fun!

Snowmobiling is part of who we are

Because snowmobiling is so popular among residents of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, it is part of the culture. Visiting snowmobilers won’t feel that they are a disruption and will encounter respectful and careful drivers when crossing urban areas. Moreover, they can easily get tips on the best locales, where safety precautions are paramount, and reliable advice.

Welcoming Locals

It goes without saying that the warmth and friendliness of the residents of Abitibi-Témiscamingue also have a major impact on the quality of the snowmobile tourism experience. With such a friendly reception from residents, visitors find it very easy to fall under the region’s spell and rate their experience as unforgettable. A number of returning visitors to our visitor information centre tell us that it only took one visit to convince them to come back again and again.

Contact_brasserie_restaurants_motoneige

Brasserie Le Contact is un pub connected to a local snowmobile trail which connects to regional trail #83 as well as a large parking

Accessible Services

In Val-d’Or, an urban snowmobile route is prepared each year through a large part of the downtown area, providing access to numerous services, such as gas stations, banks, snowmobile specialty shops, hotels and restaurants. There are information panels located along the route to direct snowmobilers who are unfamiliar with the city.

An Active Tourism Industry

Although tourists place a great deal of importance on trail quality, access to services and a destination’s reputation, the human side is equally important. The region’s tourism industry understands that fact, and makes sure that snowmobilers have access to products and services that will give them a top-notch experience. For example, hotels offer competitive packages that are designed for snowmobilers, with a number of value-added services and products, such as trailer and snowmobile parking with 24/7 monitoring, or heated garages. There is also signage along the trails for a number of restaurants and hotels.

snowmobiling-local

A Longer Tourist Season

Because snowmobiling is such a tourist attraction in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the tourist season extends through the winter, reducing the drop in revenues between summer and winter. For example, many accommodation providers in Val-d’Or offer snowmobile packages and restaurants regularly welcome groups of snowmobilers stopping in for a meal.

A Substantial Economic Impact

Snowmobiling is an essential component of tourism in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, with economic spinoffs of over $2.5 billion in Quebec as a whole, including $60 million in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and close to $20 million in MRC de la Vallée-de-l’Or (MRCVO). It is now recognized as a major economic partner in regional development. The urban route in Val-d’Or also bolsters other services that while not a direct part of the industry, such as gas stations, banks and snowmobile specialty shops, benefit from snowmobile tourism in Val-d’Or. Tourism has a positive impact on the city’s economy as a whole.

 

Translation by Anne Laflèche

Disappointment-Free Fishing

Disappointment-Free Fishing

Every year the retreating ice signals the frenzied start of fishing season.

Just a few minutes from Val-d’Or and we are in the great outdoors, speckled with numerous lakes awaiting us. With rod in one hand and tackle in the other, we’re ready for a brand-new day of fishing, on the hunt for the best-looking pike in the lake!

We become more patient as we bask in the silence on the water and take advantage of these moments of serenity to admire nature, feel the gentle rocking of the boat, listen to the birds, breathe in the fresh air, turn our faces to the warmth of the sun and admire all the colours of the natural world.

Then, a bite!! The adrenaline starts to flow! We get ready for that last tug that will land our prize in the boat. Every fish that comes out of the water is followed by a surge of pride!

pêche Réserve faunique La Vérendrye Abitibi-Témiscamingue Fishing Val-d'Or

In the Réserve faunique La Vérendrye, over 800 lakes are accessible for fishing. They have walleye, lake trout, northern pike, speckled trout, smallmouth bass, and sturgeon.

In our bubble, the only thing on our mind is fishing and we experience the restorative effect of nature and the sense of well-being it brings. If we want to appreciate every second of our fishing days to the fullest and not give in to disappointment, we have to appreciate the natural landscape around us and keep our expectations in check.

Lunchtime? Time to return to shore, light a small fire and toast our sandwiches – yummy!

Fish aren’t biting? Time to try some different techniques or different bait. We’ve got all day to meet our quota. In the heat of the afternoon sum, we find a little beach on the shore and play in the water for a few minutes. Then it’s back into the boat for a cool one!

We come home sun-tanned, our catch in the basket – what a wonderful way to spend a day, to spend the summer! And we’ll have plenty of fishing stories to tell as well.

And what could be better than fresh pike sizzling on the grill? If you’ve never had it, give it a try. It’s unbelievably delicious!

 

Translated by Anne Laflèche