Sun’s out, bugs out

PHOTO: Tom, Flickr CC-BY

Entomologists say the lives of mosquitoes consist of four distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

But I posit that several additional stages of mosquito life have yet to be documented in scientific papers. Allow me to elaborate.

It’s true; egg, larva and pupa stages take place in water. And yes, adult mosquitoes then emerge hungry for our blood, a critical source of protein for mosquito reproduction. 

But it doesn’t stop there. 

After emerging from some bird feeder or nearby swamp, adult mosquitoes enter another stage: mindless bumbling. Similar to denizens of the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart, these mosquitoes slowly bump into you, testing to see if you are a good deal or just part of the display.

Mosquitoes then proceed to another stage: joy-killing. They seek humans happy to finally be outside after months of winter and no discernible spring. As these humans emit carbon dioxide while saying “ahhhhhhh,” they experience a feeling that they dimly recall as “happiness.” That is the signal for these joy-killing mosquitoes to attack untamed continents of exposed skin.

These joy-killing mosquitoes pay special attention to gardeners, anglers, bicyclists and campers. They know that these humans’ favorite activities happen during a limited season and thus can be easily and enjoyably ruined by ravenous bloodletting. Blood is the mosquitoes most prized commodity, but the dashed joy of humankind is its next favorite meal.

After this stage, a new era begins: stealth mosquitoes. During the stealth stage, you will investigate every room in your home before bed, looking for offending mosquitoes to squash. You will not find any. That’s because stealth mosquitoes are not detectable by human senses. 

Some say these stealth mosquitoes exist within dimensions not yet understood on planet Earth. One quick turn and the mosquito becomes invisible. The next morning you wake up covered in bites. How? Why? No one knows.

The next stage comes anticlimactically: lazy mosquitoes. You walk into a room to find a mosquito resting on the wall. You look at it. Surely it knows I’m here, right? [SLAP!] Dead mosquito. Blood and carnage. Did the bug want to die? Did I just make it stronger, like Obi Won Kanobe? Is it a space ghost now, offering advice to future mosquitoes? Perhaps so.

Then the mosquitoes advance into yet another stage: kamikaze. Skeeters in this stage are no longer messing around. They are willing to die so that others may live. 

No matter how much bug repellent you’ve applied, or how adept you’ve become at slapping bugs, these kamikaze mosquitoes will attack in droves. Their battered corpses fill the dashboard of your vehicle and any food you might be trying to eat at the time. One in a hundred survive, and they go on to have 10,000 babies.

Then there is the final stage of mosquito life: lamentation. You know the sound of a summer bedroom buzzing with mosquitoes, right? Once half a can of bug spray has been deployed in the room, a potpourri of insect doom, the stage of lamentation begins.

What once sounded like “buzz” suddenly becomes “baaaaauuuuuuuuzzzzz,” a primal wail that can only the dying can utter. Each mosquito competes in earnest for a tiny Academy Award, stretching the death scene into five acts with two intermissions. This is their final annoying gift, not counting the taste of bug spray which lingers on lips well past Labor Day.

Yes, the northern Minnesota mosquito season has arrived, one of the worst in recent memory. Don’t worry. It will be over soon, just in time for another seven-month winter.

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and co-hosts the podcast “Power in the Wilderness” on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, June 12, 2022 edition of the Mesabi Tribune.



  1. Joe musich says

    Excellent ….living now comfortably in the middle of Minneapolis I can testify to be driven from the backyard after dark while sitting outside by my made “water feature.” So here I am recreating the mosquito experience. Am I longing to return to the woods of NE Mn. ? As an aside for the enhancement of my students for a couple of years we raised the airborne Dracula’s in my classroom. And of course there would be a speaker from the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District visiting to intricacies of their work both scientific and social. The good news down here we do not need a horsefly containment district. The Pterodactyl is nowhere to be found.

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