Wisconsin has seen some record rainfalls in the past month. We are in the drainage basin of the Rock River, which eventually empties into the Mississippi River by Rock Island, Illinois. The huge rains contributed to flooding of the Rock and its tributary rivers and creeks, a lot of the flooding was extremely severe and damaging. Many of the farm fields around us still have acres of new ponds, three weeks after the worst of the rains.
What the rains and floods also brought were an onslaught of mosquitoes, really thick hordes of mosquitoes. They are pretty nasty when one walks out the back door, but much worse in the garden. It would be suicidal to try to do any garden work without protection.
I refuse to use the chemical insecticides. If you are not aware, the science for commercial chemical repellents came out of development of poison gas. The stuff that is banned by the Geneva Convention, and is a true crime against humanity, like most things related to war. Commercial repellents have been known to give people shakes and tremors, so why risk it?
I’ve tried the natural/organic type repellents and even tried home made formulae, but when you’re sweating in the garden, the mixtures lose their effectiveness pretty quickly. And with the heavy infestation this year, the repellents aren’t good enough. So I depend on mechanical protection as the best way to allow me to get some work done.
The picture is me just coming in from picking two and a half quarts of strawberries. Long pants, a light-weight, hooded windbreaker snugged up tight, a baseball cap with a visor to keep the mosquito netting from touching my skin. Netting does no good if any part of it is up against the skin. The impermeability of the windbreaker helps a lot. Mosquitoes bite right though T shirts and other cotton shirts. It’s not the most comfortable get up when it’s hot, but it works very well. I don’t cover my hands when I’m picking. Just brushing them through the strawberry plants offers quite a bit of protection.
People like to discuss who has the worst mosquitoes. Minnesota is famous for theirs, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan cranks out some notoriously bloodthirsty types, and in almost any place that produces mosquitoes the locals will try to tell you that theirs are the worst. I would have to say that the meanest, biggest and most numerous I’ve encountered were in Alaska. I got a free summer vacation in Alaska while I was in The Army. The mosquitoes were very large and they traveled in huge clouds. I’ve never seen any as bad, elsewhere.
Up until the advent of the West Nile virus, upper North American mosquitoes didn’t pose much of a health threat to most people. That’s changed, a little. I think the threat is still pretty small, but I don’t let myself get bitten if I can help it.