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must mention mosquitoes & the bombardment of beetles

July 23, 2008

According to page 194 of my wonderful new Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada (for review, see post one previous to this one), we are being bitten by 3 or possibly 4 different kinds of mosquitoes: black snow mosquito, common snow mosquito, and cool weather mosquito are the most likely culprits here at 7600′ where the snow has melted only recently.

We’ve handled them by covering bare skin (raingear’s best!); flowing clothes like skirts, or baggy shirts and pants work well too. Lots of swatting, too!

I found hiking the Pacific Crest Trail that when we hit a swarm of mosquitoes, by the time we stopped, took off our packs, got out the DEET, applied it, put our packs back on, and started hiking again–we were bit, frustrated, and furious. We figured out that we could out hike them faster than we could DEET ourselves, and then we weren’t covered in DEET which is scary stuff–anything that can eat through a plastic bag could make short work of my fragile and precious skin!

Putting pesticides or other nasty chemicals on my skin isn’t high on my list. Instead, I have found that Avon’s Skin So Soft deters them significantly. On the suggestion of a Burning Mom, next time I’m going to remember to add citronella oil to it. We also brought citronella tea lights which we burned in the evenings in clear plastic glasses. Burning Moms also highly recommend California Baby and Buzz Away!

And when you do get a bite, the trick is NOT TO SCRATCH!

This warm evening while we relax after dinner by the glow of the candles and the moon, beetles begin raining down. Once they land, they flop around a bit, walk in circles, swim briefly in wax. They are looking to hook up but like humans, fumble it most of the time. We shake them off our clothes and hair and turned to Laws Field Guide page 180 to learn they are hairy pine borers.

This week biting pale deer flies (p. 196) pester also! Gotta just stay covered to protect yourself from these painful irritants which come out during the heat of the day when you’re relaxing in the sun!

And while I am still enamoured with my new field guide, it works best in tandem with a guide which provides more details. This one is best at identifying the critter–if you want more info, move to a species specific guide.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2008 10:29 am

    Why the mosquito? I ask. Why where they invented, they seem to serve no purpose but to annoy at the worst of times. Your story is cool, an adventure with wine and food, cool bananas,

  2. July 23, 2008 4:27 pm

    well the mosquitoes feed the bats, for one! and bats are way cool bananas! one night we walked up to this old cabin and watched the sunset and the bats zoom and collected gentle jeffrey pine cones for our fire…and had some really nice smooches too. my most favoritest eve of them of all at reds (nights at the white were the absolute best–no bugs and endless views for my imagination to run with)

  3. July 24, 2008 10:30 am

    Oh no, I know I am not politely politically correct but I live next to a palm tree which grows just down river from a colony of fruit bats. They take one bite drop it on my tin roof, argue all night and make a huge unspeakable mess on the concrete path that won’t even hose off. If fewer mosquitoes means fewer bats I’m all for that. The way nature is now is not natural, we screwed it up. Now the only thing that eats bats is a shotgun, but that’s not legal. Can I come camping with you next time?

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