Hurricane Gordon has came and went, so I went out to the Swimming Hole to do a final cleanup and pickup out there. Once it gets too cool to swim, I get all the pool paraphernalia gathered and stored for the winter, and bring Betsy’s plants in to winter on the back porch. All this requires a pickup truck, so I backed mine up under the big cypress and began to load it.
Lordee! The mosquitoes were about to carry me off! Of course, I was dressed only in shorts and tee shirt, so they had a lot to eat on: a Brownspur smorgasbord. I was so busy swatting that I dropped a potted plant, which promptly became an un-potted plant, and I could see this wasn’t going to work without me getting in trouble with Betsy. But as I retreated, fighting a rear-guard action, I could see that the skeeters weren’t coming from the water, they were swarming from the high grass. See, with the hurricane early fall rains, I had not mowed the pasture and around the Swimming Hole in a month.
So, I hied me back to the house and cranked off the lawn mower. The pasture was nearly knee-deep in crab grass, so I set the mower up high and attacked. Swarms of mosquitoes arose to do battle! Since the day had warmed up considerably, I had shed the tee shirt and just had on shorts – before I had mowed back to the Mammy Grudge ditchbank, I was covered with insects! Not only were the mosquitoes ubiquitous, but some type of small moth was also holed up in the high grass. I retreated again.
Back to the house for jeans, and an old faded blue cotton shirt with long sleeves. Started the mowing operation again, but once again the insect army rebuffed me. I had sandals on my feet, and that was not an option – I had to head back to the house for socks.
Once more into the fray I mowed, and again the bugs beat me back. Not only did I have to go back for a cap, but I rigged up a headband under that to protect my forehead and ears, then stuffed a bandana handkerchief up under the hat to hang down over my neck, tying it under my chin. Still the mosquitoes came after me in droves.
They were alighting on my light blue shirt sleeves, and sometimes punching through to the skin underneath, so I had a good contrast for scientific observation. These were not our standard-issue Delta mosquito: the brownish, buzzing outfit we all know and are prepared for. These skeeters were larger, and they were black. They seemed to have a white stripe diagonally down their sides, and I swear they were even hairy! Not furry, now, but hairy, like the hair on a dog stands up when the canine is upset or scared. I have raised Labrador retrievers out here for years; have we bred up a mutant cross between a mosquito and a Labrador?
Certainly these monsters were able to bite through a cotton shirt, like I once saw Polar Bear, our light-yellow Lab, do with a stranger who tried to get in our house, not knowing that I was home with no cars around, and that a grinning dog was also a biting dog – that’s in the Bible somewhere, I think. Lordee, surely these mutant mosquitoes weren’t grinning, too? I tried to watch more closely, and, by golly, I think they were! Grinning giant hairy mosquitoes – I once more retreated to the house and found the skeeter scoot left over from turkey season. I sprayed all over and headed back for the pasture on the mower.
I swear, the Deet did discourage the mosquitoes from biting me, but the dadgum little moths loved it! It was like moth perfume – soon the moths were so thick around me that at times I could barely see the front of the mower! By now, it was getting toward dusk anyway, so I cut the lights on. That was worse! There were so many bugs rising in front of me that the lights reflected off of them and totally obscured where I was trying to mow. I couldn’t see grass, trees, or even the Mammy Grudge ditchbank, until I realized I was mowing uphill!
Tell you how bad it was: I was having to stop for bullfrogs. Big bullfrogs had come to the pasture from the Mammy Grudge and the Swimming Hole to feast on the insects I was stirring up mowing, and they were so full, they could hardly hop out of the way! Can one get West Nile Virus by eating froglegs from mosquito-eating bullfrogs?