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Bug News

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Have you been inundated with hoards and hoards of flying, bloodsucking, tiny demons this summer? Yeah, me too :(

In case you didn’t guess from the photo header, I’m not talking about actual mythological vampires. I’m talking about the real bloodsuckers just outside our windows (well hopefully they’re are outside!) – MOSQUITOES.

Did you know – Mosquitoes are a type of fly in the taxonomic group, “Family”, Culcidae. Only the female mosquitoes drink blood. They need the protein for laying their eggs. Males couldn’t care less about warm-blooded creatures and just go around procreating and occasionally sipping nectar from the flowers.

I don’t remember them being so bad last summer. They hadn’t been a problem this year either, up until a few days ago. Then, all of a sudden, the mosquito population just exploded. And not in a good way. So, I did the usual check around the property to look for potential breeding sites. Mosquitoes breed and their babies develop in any small bit of standing water. This could be anything from an empty flowerpot, to an old tire, to a puddle in your driveway that never drains - they only need an inch or two for a few days to complete their life cycle and turn into blood-sucking monsters. I didn’t find any obvious culprits (other than our pond which has always been there – I trust my window frogs to control anything coming from there). Yet we are still inundated with hoards of the nasty critters. Maybe it has something to do with a long drought and then lots of subsequent rain?

My poor baby covered in mosquitoes

I suppose I should feel better that its not just my house, my neighbors have them too, and they continue to swarm me and the dog all the way down our road as we go for our walk. Well, when we tried to go for our walk. We couldn’t actually walk… Maybe speed walk. We absolutely could NOT slow down for anything. Certainly not to just sniff things! I must have looked like a complete crazy person swinging my arms around and hopping up and down to try and keep the mosquitos at bay as the dog takes care of her business…

The little demons are even chasing me away from the garden and my beloved raspberries… I can deal with thorns, wasps, super heat and humidity, even poison ivy, but I just can’t take the swarming mosquitoes biting every inch of my body and buzzing my ears.

Normally its my partner that attracts all the biting/stinging critters – they just seem to love his sweet skin, whereas I mostly get left alone, certainly only a small fraction of what usually find him bother with me. Not this time. I can’t walk outside for even 30 second without getting covered. Its pretty miserable. I sure hope they don’t stay for the rest of the summer.

Just one of the many, many, biting me

That’s the end of my complaining for now. However, it should be noted that mosquitoes aren’t just annoying pests. They are also the vectors of many serious diseases. To read more about the troubles mosquitoes cause check out these resources:

~ Post update ~

So I did some digging. Because I wanted to know. Apparently, the massive outbreak of mosquitoes this year (in Michigan anyway) is due to weather related conditions. The drought we had last year and generally drier conditions earlier this year and last (maybe the previous year too), led to a lot of “floodwater” or “floodplain” mosquito eggs not hatching. They just didn’t get enough sitting water during the warm enough months. The eggs didn’t die though - oh no. The eggs just sat there dormant. Until now. This year has been unusually warm and the swath of rain torrents has created the perfect environment for mosquito eggs to hatch. Except instead of the usual batch we would have gotten, we’re getting two to three years worth of mosquitos all at once. Ugh. They will likely be with us most of the rest of summer - we need a good frost to kill off the current adults. Unless you’re in an area that sprays. Ugh :( Good news - Next year should only have a normal amount of mosquitoes…

If you do want (or need) to be outside despite the vampire hoards, I recommend using liberal amounts of bug spray with deet in it. I did a quick experiment with what I had at the house. Something with 25% deet in it cuts the number of mosquitoes biting you in about half. Something with 40% deet in it seemed to confuse about 98% of mosquitoes. I sprayed my clothes and did a smear line on each cheek, my chin, and forehead. Ancedotal evidence, but it worked wonderfully for me. Maybe two bites this morning instead of so many I can’t stand outside. Hopefully my coworkers don’t mind me coming in smelling like deet though - I didn’t have a chance to wash it off after our morning walk before coming in…

Michigan State University has some recommendations if you’d like further reading: What can I do about the mosquito super emergence?

Want to try the same bug spray I used? While you can get bug spray at almost any pharmacy, grocery, or hardware store, I got mine off of Amazon.com becasue they quickly deliver right to my door…

Questions? Comments?

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Written by an entomologist for the enjoyment of all... The goal is to post something new every Wednesday and on the weekends, so stay tuned!