We are being ‘eaten alive’

HOMER TRIBUNE/Sam Kuzmin - A mosquito alights on the arm of Sam Kuzmin in anticipation of its evening meal.

HOMER TRIBUNE/Sam Kuzmin - A mosquito alights on the arm of Sam Kuzmin in anticipation of its evening meal.

There are approximately 100 mosquito bites from my head to my toes in various stages of development. And, according to most other people I’ve spoken to, they are in the same situation. This year, the buzzing demons are not discriminating. Those who say, “Mosquitos don’t like me; I guess I’m not sweet enough,” are also complaining.
Good luck finding your favorite repellant at the stores, as there has been a run on the stuff. Last night, I dug around in the back of my medicine closet and happened to find a bottle. Score! Now, when I extend my foot from beneath the covers it won’t be an invitation to dinner for our insect friends.
Are mosquitos really our friends in a trickle down, weird sort of way? Yes, indirectly speaking, according to Janice Chumley, integrated pest management technician at the Kenai Peninsula District office of Cooperative Extension Service.
What may be considered our misery, is advantageous to a whole host of other critters, she said. While they are feasting on us, critters are feasting on them.
For example, insects love to eat mosquitos, and insects are beneficial to our lives. They pollinate, clean up debris and control weeds.  And who doesn’t get a thrill from seeing a beautiful mosquito-eating dragonfly flit by on a summer’s day. Local and migratory birds also feed on  mosquitoes, and fish eat mosquitoes, too. That certainly helps commercial fishermen, tourists trying to catch fish and the rest of us who like to eat it. And it all starts with the bugs, she said.
Are we being bitten  because we are spending more time outdoors enjoying the nice weather, or is there truly an exorbitant amount of mosquitoes this year?
Well, it doesn’t matter whether you are outdoors or indoors, the welt count may be the same. And certainly last year’s freaky weather had a lot to do with all the mosquitoes, according to Chumley. Last year, we had a lot of rain which created a moist environment for egg masses, then snow on top of that created a buffer. Once the sun hit it, pow! Mosquitoes — and probably a lot of slugs, too. (Yea!)
“The environment we had set up last fall was perfect for hatching out mosquitoes this year,” she said.
By the way, this is also what probably  killed a large section of our lawns in Homer.
“Every 10 or 20 years, there’s an environmental event that takes out these things,” she said. “And, although we like to think we are in control, we are not.”
That’s a good reminder.
This is not an exotic mosquito from Africa, either, like the African Killer Bee. It is not immune to Cutter’s spray, blunt force trauma or a flame thrower – despite rumors. They are just “good, old-fashioned Alaska mosquitoes,” according to Chumley.
Can these mosquitoes transmit disease?
“It’s a concern what with West Nile virus and the amount of migratory birds we encounter,” she said, “but there have been no warnings issued by the Center for Alaska Disease Control as of Monday.”
So the next time you foolishly smack yourself in the head, or slap your spouse a little bit too hard, smile, and sweetly say, “Sorry, I missed it.” Remember, it’s nature telling us she’s doing her job; and that mosquitoes help the environment in many, many ways that we cannot see or fully appreciate.
Now, where’s that bug dope?

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Posted by on Jun 19th, 2013 and filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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