Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Did You Know?

Tiger Mosquito, Mosquito  As mentioned by Adam to an earlier entry on Alaska, we do have mosquitoes who seem a bit hungrier than those down states.  They do attack in a way that make you wish you could figure out how to get rid of them.

When I first moved to Alaska, it was in September when everything cooled down, got wet, and the mosquitoes began disappearing. I couldn't understand why people joked about it being the state bird.

 I didn't worry about them until the following spring when snow melted and all the sudden the air was thick with those hungry rascals who were fully grown.  I couldn't figure out how they went from small larvae to full sized adults in such a short time.  It turns out one of the mosquito species up here hibernates over the winter.

You read that right!  In the fall when the temperatures begin dropping close to zero, these mosquitoes bury themselves under leaves and other materials so they are protected over the winter.  They enjoy a nice long sleep until the snow melts.  Once they wake up, they crawl out of their safe spot before they hunt for food due to hunger.

Its not unusual to walk along shaded paths and be attacked by a swarm of starving mosquitoes.  One time I was driving up from Anchorage to Fairbanks and had to make a stop by the side of the road, near a nice thick patch of woods.  I barely got in there, before they attacked in full force.  I got my business completed and back to the car in record time.

Once these adults have started satisfying their hunger, they reproduce, adding to the population.  It is no fun being attacked by both adults and babies.  I have spent a few summers  coated in lotion designed to keep the bites from scratching.  A couple years after I moved up there, I found a couple of plants I could use to prevent those suckers from biting.

One of the plants is a wonderful catnip. Yup, the same plant that drives cats crazy.  I grabbed a few leaves, rubbed them over my body, before going out.  Presto, no longer did the mosquitoes focus on me.  They left me alone to bother other people.

The downside of using catnip?  All the cats in the neighborhood invaded my yard and tried to kill it with love.  I finally had to build a protective cage around it, otherwise it was being smothered by all the felines who needed to play in it.

Yes even today, I keep catnip handy so I don't have to use any poisons.  Yes mosquitoes still hibernate and wake up so hungry.  Until I moved up here, I didn't know they hibernated like bears.  Let me know what you think.

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