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Not sure how common a problem this is for people... Lately I've been recording in 'buggy' places to capture ambient nature sounds. I recently upgraded to some decent cardioid mics which always need wind protection because of their high sensitivity. Problem is, mosquitoes, flies and other insects seem to love the fur covering the ball gags, I guess mistaking it for an animal of some sort. While I don't mind an insect buzzing by every now and again, it can get annoying and unfruitful when attempting to record sounds other than these flying misfits.

I've tried keeping a good distance from the mics which sometimes detracts insects, but not always. I'm reluctant to spray the fur with insect repellant for fear the chemical fumes may possibly harm the (overpriced) plastic ball gags and (pricey) microphone capsules. Does anyone know any tricks or techniques to solve the issue?

Any advice is welcome.

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8 Answers 8

If you use a chemical on the furry windscreen, try the Permethrin that's used for spray-on application for clothing. It dries over a few hours and is non-tacky, shouldn't dreadlock your windscreen. You could also try spraying it on the inside. It's chemically relatively inert and safer than, say, DEET. That said, it may prevent insects from landing, but maybe not swarming. I've not tried it yet, rest assured I will...

I like the idea of using a DEET-treated rag or bandana on the mic stand. Be sure that the DEET doesn't come in contact with plastic, as it could melt it.

Personally, I've had no luck at all with citronella, catnip, or other variants, at least on the West Coast of the US.

The only other thing I can think of is that, in my experience, usually when it's calm enough that small mosquitos are bugging me (sorry, pun intended), I don't need a furry windscreen, and when I do need a furry windscreen, the mosquitos arent' a problem. This doesn't help with bigger critters, though, like actual flies. :-(

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sure, if the air is really still I don't need the fur. the ball gags will work fine. I'll look into some of the repellents mentioned here. –  jgrzinich Jul 15 '10 at 10:38
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I haven't tried this - but I read about it on one of the Nature Recording sites:

Exo Terra Portable Reptile Cage

This would, at least, keep the bugs off of the windscreen.

John Moore

sound.flyingmonkeystudio.com

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Oh, wow, thanks for digging that up, John. Had totally forgotten about that product. The question would be if it would keep bugs far away enough to reduce the sound of their buzzing. If the damn bugs would just land on my windscreen, as opposed to swarming around it, that'd actually solve the problem! (hehe) :-p –  NoiseJockey Jul 18 '10 at 17:54
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I agree with your reluctance to spray your furries and foam screens. But I'd be most concerned about the insect repellent coming in contact with the wind screens due to a chemical reaction with the foam. I'd try spraying a rag with insect repellent, and secure the rag to the mic stand. Also, try looking up "natural insect repellent" as there's really no need to use all the manufactured, chemical-laden repellents that are out there.

Alternatively, you could work with what you've got and could focus on capturing the insects rather than the ambience.

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hmm…a lemons into lemonade kinda guy! –  Jay Jennings Jul 14 '10 at 1:50
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I would try using the large garden incense sticks that repel bugs (obviously if its not in a very dry area due to fire risk). These should let of enough smoke to hopefully deter them but at the same time should not effect the equipment (apart from your wind jammer furry getting a slightly new scent) and can't imagine them making any noise to affect the recordings. Hope this helps

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You could try and distract their attention away from your microphones with some strategically placed jam

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or can of beer. –  Jay Jennings Jul 14 '10 at 2:02
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I'm building a bug screen for some outdoor locations that were previously ruined by bugs flying close to the furry windscreen or just plain old landing on it and jumping up and down ... very annoying. If I get it done in time I'll post the pics and results.

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that would be great. –  jgrzinich Jul 15 '10 at 10:36
    
hey I ran out of time and just bought some bug screens to place over food. They look like little umbrella's but they were too small and collapsed too easily when I tried to place them on location. I'm thinking about using the wire structure from a folding paper lantern and replacing the paper with fly screen. –  studio13 Jul 28 '10 at 15:14
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Thanks for all the feedback. What I realized is most annoying is when the insects actually land on the windscreens. So, some combination of repellant sprayed on an external netting might be a viable solution. I'll give it a try this weekend while helping a friend research a special variety of bush cricket.

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I've never tried this in this sort of situation but - I used to do a lot of camping when I was younger, and my friends and I would shove one of those fabric softener sheets (the kind you put in the dryer with your clothes) under our hats. It was one of those things where the source of the idea is lost in the ether, but it worked pretty well.

Maybe it would work here too. Attach on or two sheets (or put them inside if you're using a zepplin), and maybe it will do the trick. Could be worth a shot.

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