Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Greg Peck: Where did all the mosquitoes go?

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Greg Peck
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It’s amazing how fickle Mother Nature can be. On the weekend of May that overlapped into June, I visited my parents in Minocqua. Mosquitoes were vicious. They chased residents and visitors alike into stores to arm themselves with bug dope and equipment to fend off the biting insects.

Likewise, mosquitoes defined a family vacation to Mercer in mid-June. The skeeters were relentless, and our grandkids even had swollen faces from the many bites. We used the Zap Master: The Original Electric Hand-Held Bug Zapper, so often and effectively inside our cabin that, before week’s end, we had to replace the batteries.

That made me wonder how bad mosquitoes and biting black flies would be when my fishing buddies and I ventured into Ontario, near Sioux Lookout, to fish out of Pickerel Arm Camp late last month. We took along bug dope and that Zap Master, but we didn’t need either. You didn’t want to hang around outside after dark, but during daylight we could come and go between cabin, boat docks and fish cleaning shack without facing aerial assaults.

Last weekend, my wife and I again visited my parents. The difference compared to late spring was remarkable. Mom thinks dragonflies gobbled up the mosquitoes. Sure, I saw dragonflies flitting about, but had they munched that many skeeters, those flying predators would have grown to the size of U.S. drones. Instead, I’m guessing that dryer conditions greatly diminished the mosquito population. After a delayed and then wet spring, the change is a welcome relief to anyone venturing to northern Wisconsin—at least to Oneida County. Last weekend, we sat outside with my parents for extended periods, enjoying sunny skies, mild air and few mosquitoes. I remember only swatting one skeeter.

We observed many nuthatches, downy woodpeckers and hummingbirds. I could hear a loon’s mournful cry one evening from Lake Minocqua in the distance. The eagles that nested each year in a tall pine just a couple of blocks away, however, relocated this year. Mom thinks the wet spring altered their brooding plans. That’s too bad.

We also saw few deer. My sister, Karen, who lives nearby, spotted three in a neighbor’s yard. I observed one lying quietly in the woods upon our arrival. But we saw no more. Karen thinks the harsh winter took a toll on the whitetails.

I won’t be surprised, however, if Mother Nature replenishes the deer supply in the years ahead. She keeps changing her ways. Sometimes, such as this stretch with fewer mosquitoes, mild temperatures and low humidity, we need to appreciate what she serves.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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