Thursday, May 03, 2007

Swallows and Mosquitoes

Another fine spring day has encouraged a growth spurt in the local vegetation and the hatching of new insects. We have been walking by the river frequently as there are no mosquitos (yet) and the river grasses are just a few inches high making it easy to access the edge of the water. We are still waiting for the majority of migrating birds to make a local appearance. When they arrive in a couple of weeks, the leaves on the trees will make them more difficult to see.
The Canada Goose goslings are on the water now, cute as can be, but threatening a further population boom for this species.

Dakota loves to go into the river. The current is lazy and the water levels have decreased by several feet since last month. He was swarmed by tiny flying insects as he came out of the river, and we walked through clouds of them along the banks.
This area of the river flows by limestone cliffs that are a nesting area for swallows. The swallows were out in large numbers, swooping over the water, no doubt enjoying the insect infestation.

They flew from the cliffs over to a tree on the opposite bank where we were walking. I have seen bright blue tree swallows in this area too, but have not been fortunate enough to see them perch on a branch. These bank swallows were gregarious and lovely to watch in flight.

With mosquito season just around the corner, we will be visiting our vet to get the dog's heartworm medication. Heartworm was unheard of in our area twenty years ago, but many cases are now identified each year. Another mosquito-borne disease that has recently arrived here is West Nile Virus. While most people are only mildly ill if infected, there are some who succumb to the illness. I dislike mosquitoes and prefer to spend the summers near the Great Lakes where strong breezes keep the biting insects away. I will only go to inland lakes in the fall season. While there are effective repellants, I prefer to minimize my use of them. Mosquitoes are a big problem in the Canadian northland. Some communities do aerial spraying to control them. I don't know what is worse; the risk of disease, or the health risk from chemicals.

I will be doing fewer river walks on warm, still evenings in the late spring and summer, choosing higher ground on windy days and day trips to Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

Grandma's Birding Friends with Mosquito Gear 1942

How do you cope in mosquito season? Repellant, netting, avoidance...?

11 comments:

  1. "How do you cope in mosquito season? Repellant, netting, avoidance...?"

    Avoidance and my incredible hand slapping skills (DIE MOSQUITO!!! DIIIIIIIIIIIE!!!!!!).

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  2. I'll do just about anything to not have to put repellants on my body. Besides, the city solves the mosquito problem for me by spraying for 'skeeters. So I end up breathing my chemicals instead of wearing them. :-(

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  3. This year we are trying a Skeeter Vac by the pool to see if it will help in decreasing the numbers. I'll let you know!

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  4. I tend to stay inside on evenings when there is no breeze. I'll use repellant but really hate to go to bed with it on my skin.

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  5. All three. I am so sweet that mosquitoes attack me like flies on sh--.

    Really, I use a repellant that has a decent scent but doesn't mix well my my perfume. Before heading out in the evening, I stand in the garage and spray myself from neck down. I smell kind of funky all summer.

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  6. Ruth - I love that photo - they look very happy despite the uncomfortable get-ups!

    I hate bug spray - anyway it doesn't seem to work for me. Like Mary, I must taste too good.

    Do you have black flies where you are? Gosh I hope not.

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  7. Repellant, but also fabric with something infused in it to keep the 'skeeters at bay. Seems to work--even in Ghana on my recent visit!

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  8. I love the picture of your grandma! I think she's setting an example for us, though she didn't have to worry as we do about the danged diseases now transmissible from a little bug bite.

    Just today as I was 'joying' through the woods, I began to obsess about the arrival of the mosquitoes. I'm a chicken and hate to admit that the threat does drive me out of the woods in the summer. Doggone it. However, I'll use repellent when I need to - we can't cower inside forever.

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  9. I'll take Black flies over mosquitoes even though they leave bigger welts on me.-I like the photos-very nice!

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  10. Becka- I hate hitting myself on the head!

    Bunnygirl- If it is toxic to mosquitoes, it has to be toxic to my cells too. But it is hard to avoid chemicals.

    Lynne- Summer is so short, but I agree that staying in on still evenings is necessary sometimes. I hate that lone mosquito that gets in and buzzes around the bed at night!

    Mary- LOL- Sweetness personified!

    Laura- My husband puts up with blackflies on spring fishing trips, but I haven't experienced them. I love Grandma's pic too. I didn't appreciate her passion for birding until she was gone.

    KGMom- African mosquitoes = much deadlier diseases and essential use of repellants. I recall the sad story about your baby sister and malaria. (there used to be malarial mosquitoes here in Ontario)
    I have never heard of treated fabrics.

    Cathy- I don't think I would get anyone to join me in a walk if I was wearing that mosquito netting;-definitely not my daughters! The woods certainly become more sinister with disease bearing ticks and mosquitoes. There are more stylish mosquito jackets available, but they would be warm in mid-summer.

    Larry- Blackflies vs mosquitoes...hmmm. At least you can see mosquitoes. I can tell you are a fisherman too.

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  11. The mosquitos don't usually go for the noggin'....

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