DEAR HARRIETTE: Every year, we are invited to visit friends who have a cabin in the woods. The setting is lovely, and we enjoy our friends. But every single year, no matter what we do, we come away with serious bug bites, including spider bites. We visited them a few weeks ago, and we are still suffering the consequences, with itching, burning bites all over our bodies. We are not wimps, but we are city people. My husband did a lot of research to find out the best way to stave off the bugs, but nature is winning -- big time. We love our friends, but we have decided we don't want to subject ourselves to this feeding frenzy anymore. What can we say to them so that they understand? -- No Bug Zone, Boston
DEAR NO BUG ZONE: There are many remedies for ridding a home of bugs; however, as you already know, if the location is in the heart of the woods, it may be impossible to get rid of them all. If you care to give the visit a last-ditch effort, you might talk to your friends about your concerns and ask if they can help to de-bug the place. You and your family could eliminate all fragrances, including face creams, moisturizers, shampoos and even deodorant.
If you are past the point of trying again, tell them as much. Admit that while you want to be adventurous, you are city people, and the bugs have gotten the best of you. Suggest that you spend time together in the city instead of the country. Be sure to thank them for their hospitality over the years.
Separately, go to your doctor to verify that the bites are healing properly and that no bug infected you with a disease or parasite.