Living here is living with mosquitoes. They don’t come and go; they just come in larger or smaller numbers. The smaller numbers seem to come during the dryer times, although they don’t disappear altogether. The larger populations show up about three to five days after really big rains. I’m told that this is due to the females laying eggs in places where water will collect after big rains. So, they don’t actually need water, they are programmed to anticipate it. Pretty disheartening trying to eradicate an animal like that by removing the sources of water in your yard when they can tell where it will be in the future. We tried one of those Mosquito Magnets ™ but we gave up after a couple months. The machine caught and desiccated a lot of mosquitoes, but the sheer numbers of the enemy in this location was just overwhelming. That machine is OK, I guess, for backyards with swimming pools and cabanas, but the great Atchafalaya Basin is too rich an environment for it.
And it’s not only we humans who provide the blood feast for our insect neighbors. Apparently the females need to feed on blood in order to complete the production of eggs, but the source of that blood can include cold-blooded animals like frogs, snakes, etc. The picture here is a gray treefrog in one of our birdhouses. The mosquito on the floor at the left corner has just finished feeding on the frog. There were several frogs in the box being drained by several mosquitoes. I wonder if it makes the frog itch, like it does us. The other picture is of something that I always heard but never witnessed: that female mosquitoes must have blood but males feed only on nectar or other flower products. Well, on our mayhaw bush there are flowers right now and on one of the flowers these two male mosquitoes were tanking up. You can tell they are males by the feather-like antennae they have. Females have antennae that look more like a single rod and are almost unnoticeable, but the males look like this. For now, so far this winter, the other gender, the blood-hungry one, is not too numerous, and I’m not quite sure what that correlates with. Another mystery.
The river is at 9.0 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge today. It has been that for a couple days and will apparently stay there for another few days. The Ohio and Mississippi are both falling now, but look out if that big snow storm is followed by more snow and rain. We may get some high water yet.
Rise and shine, Jim