This post is meant as a warning to those fellow internet searchers looking for information on South Manitou Island at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Northwest Michigan. We visited last week during our vacation (3rd week of July) and were looking forward to a great time.
Unfortunately, none of the literature we encountered about the trip mentioned the possibility of ferocious, swarming, biting flies! Our family now refers to the place as Fly Island.
Upon our arrival, we walked to the Lighthouse and were immediately greeted by dozens of vicious flies attacking our legs. We brought insect repellant (with DEET) with us, so we thought we’d immediately douse ourselves and be fine. Oh no, if anything, the flies seemed to be attracted to it!
Unlike typical flies, these things would grab onto our legs, hold on for dear life, and bite like crazy. Simply moving wasn’t enough to get them off of you. Thinking back, they really only attacked our lower leg and ankles, but they made our few hours on the island absolutely miserable.
The only recourse we found was to continue walking, FAST. Anywhere there was sun, they seemed to swarm us – the dock, the beach, the trails, you name it. It wasn’t until we were deep in the forest trails did they finally leave us alone – and then the mosquitos were everywhere. We ended up cutting our hike very short, and sat in one of the outbuildings for over 2 hours, swatting flies, until the boat arrived.
So, beware. We were wearing shorts, which in hindsight was a mistake. If you’re going to go at that time of year (late July), you should probably bring pants and thick socks.
Hopefully this post finds you before it is too late, best of luck!