If you’ve been outside lately, you’ve probably heard that familiar buzzing in your ear. They’re back.
After a couple of extremely dry years in Pratt and much of the rest of Kansas, the lowly mosquito has reemerged with a vengeance.
I realized this after stepping out of the car at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge one night last week. I was immediately engulfed in a swarm of mosquitoes. I hadn’t engaged in so much swatting, dodging, and running since my wife and I hiked several years ago through the Wind River Mountains near Pinedale, Wyoming. We didn’t pause for long on that hike either.
The mosquito-season regimen is simple: long sleeves, long pants, and socks with shoes are your best protection, along with a little DEET-infused bug repellant for exposed areas. For extreme bug resistance, you might opt for the beekeeper’s headgear--that’s the best way I can describe it--that we saw one hiker wearing on our mosquito-infested hike in Wyoming.
By doing a little research on the Internet, I learned several curious facts about public health enemy number one. First, more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes exist in the world. Think about that one while you’re trying to sleep in your tent in the backyard or somewhere next to a lake. Second, the carbon dioxide we exhale, our body odors, and temperature attract mosquitoes. Interestingly, only the female mosquito has the ability to suck blood, which she does to provide protein for her eggs. So, we’re at least partially responsible for perpetuating the 3,000 species. The good news is that humans are not the preferred cuisine for mosquitoes, which prefer horses, cattle, and birds. Keep that in mind when you’re riding your house through the pasture with a bunch Cattle Egrets hanging around.
On a more serious note, mosquitoes are dangerous, so please take precautions. The lowly mosquito causes millions of deaths worldwide every year through diseases it transmits when sucking your blood. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible.
An adult in Atchison County has been confirmed with the first case of West Nile Virus in Kansas, and the first positive sample of virus came from mosquitoes in Sedgwick County.
It’s only likely to worsen with the rainy summer we’re having, so please be careful and have a bite-free summer.