Eat, love, spray? Summer of the Skeeter

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

We all know that northern Minnesota’s summer was a little late this year. If you don’t recall the wailing and gnashing of teeth over that miserable second winter masquerading as spring, you’d only be blocking an important emotional crossroads we all faced together. As far as I’m concerned, no matter how hot this summer gets it cannot melt my memory of those dark days in March. But as we enter the dog days of July and August, we must complain about something, and for many the most obvious affront comes from the mosquitos.

Oh, it’s a bad year for mosquitos. I slapped a mosquito the other day that was so big. (How big was it?) That mosquito was so big that it had white meat and dark meat. The kids fought over the wishbone. I whopped another one and was only able to hurt its feelings.

It’s just a terrible year for mosquitos. They’re fast this year, too. (How fast are they?) They’ve been blowing out citronella candles with sonic booms. They knock on the windows of cars on the freeway to be let in. I saw another one being refueled in midair by a KC-135 Stratotanker.

Yup, 2014 has been just awful with mosquitos. I think the biggest problem is how many of them there are. (How many are there?) There are so many mosquitos that people on the Pokegama Lake nude beach look like they’re wearing furry swimsuits. There are so many mosquitos that my forearm has a velvet rope allowing an orderly line to form. There are so many mosquitos that when they tried to register to vote in the insect elections, the flies implemented a series of elaborate photo ID laws to maintain their fading political power.

Was it just me? Maybe the cold spring just left me mentally unprepared for the mosquito onslaught. I talked to a wily old Itasca County lumberjack and he said, with gruff sincerity, this has been the worst year for mosquitoes since 1962. He’d know. So we’re not crazy for saying the winged pests are enjoying a banner year.

I read with interest an July 5, 2014 Kyle Farris story in the Duluth News Tribune detailing the massive uptick in the use of mosquito spraying services in Northeastern Minnesota. Even anecdotally, many people I know have dug into their pockets to spray their yards and property for these pesky bugs.

This is a relatively new trend once reserved for wimpy, affluent cities. To hear of people on the Iron Range or the back woods of northern Minnesota spraying their yards leaves me buzzing with disappointment.

First of all, spraying for mosquitoes also affects dragonflies, butterflies and other insects that are an important part of the ecosystem. It’s hard to argue that more chemicals will make for a safer, healthier great outdoors. A review of world history shows us that the Punic wars between ancient Rome and Carthage might have been more brutal with hand-to-hand combat, but posed less of an existential threat that today’s threat of nuclear annihilation, and boasted far fewer casualties than WWI or WWII. My point is, we’d all benefit from a little mosquito splatter on our legs.

Finally, there are distinct limits to how much we can shield ourselves from reality before we lose grip. Mosquitos tell us that summer has arrived. The dragonflies and bats come to eat them up. The seasons turn and we all get older. Eventually the circle of life rocks us all back to the cradle of eternity. Failure to recognize this is exactly why there are so many surgically taut-faced leathery people living in Arizona or Florida air conditioned proto-tombs, unable to handle the fact that WINTER and MOSQUITOS give us the inspiration we need to make the rest of our lives in Minnesota the envy of a nation.

Spray for mosquitos? No, thanks. I need to look those mosquitoes in their hexagonal compound eyes when I execute my evolutionary duty. So it was, so it must be.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This post first appeared in the Sunday, July 20, 2014 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.



  1. What is really bugging me the most is how much more I’ve been inside this summer. And when the grand children were here, we couldn’t even take walks in the woods together. They went camping with their parents and reported that our yard has the most skeeters of anywhere.

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