Spring is finally here and it is time to get back out to your favorite outdoor activities such as gardening, hiking and fishing. Down here in Florida the gnats and mosquitoes are out in full force and it is definitely time to get out the ol' bughat™. Because the winter was so long and nasty this year, the mosquitoes and gnats appear to be extra hungry this year…so be careful.
We hope you have a wonderful start to your spring and don't let the bugs, bees and mosquitoes drive you crazy!
Summertime is one of the finest times of the year, and in particular, the long days make for evening concerts. Most are put on by local bands and groups, and best of all, they are free.
There is a two-fold problem.
The gnat, of course, is a constant issue.
The other is we have had a very wet spring. Wet springs mean standing water; standing water means mosquito larvae.
Most of the people at the concert were swatting gnats and as the sun went down, mosquitoes.
I watched, sitting in silent glee, and reached to the top of my hat, unzipped, and pulled the netting down.
Some marveled at what I had done, more stared in silent disgust, a few chuckled. One or two asked me about my hat. I gave them the website.
Those who laughed, however, were not laughing as I sat watching the concert, not one time swatting bugs from my face. Who is laughing now, I ask?
I went walking today after I finished mowing the yard.
This may not sound like much, but the gnat has returned.
Remember the blog about the Yankee in S. Georgia? Yeah; it was just like that.
Anyway, I set to mowing my yard, and I worked up a good sweat. A good sweat is one of two things that gnats love. The other is carbon dioxide.
The entire time I was mowing, not a single gnat came in contact with my face.
I wrapped up my mowing, and before I put away my mower, I always blow it off. Since I was not on the mower, the gnats tried to assail me. Tried.
The entire time I was gnat free. It was almost magical.
I finished the mower, put it away and set out on my walk.
I added significant amounts of sweat, but the whole time, no gnats.
Just to be sure, I got back and played with my phone for a few minutes. Standing perfectly still, gnats were swarming around me, desperate.
I admit I had a very sadistic look on my face the entire time because I knew no gnat would touch me now or ever again. I could not help but laugh evilly in the face of my tiny assailant.
I love my Bughat.
I went fishing the other day with my kids.
Translation: I spent several hours on the water, hot after paddling against the wind while untangling lines, replacing hooks, putting worms on, taking fish off and generally keeping my two from 1) jumping out of the boat; 2) throwing each other out of the boat; 3) me throwing them both out of the boat.
I contemplated number three for a very long time, but explaining this to my wife would be very difficult.
I will say this much. There were two things that I did not have problems with:
1. The sun;
The reason is simple. My Bug Hat Boonie did a two-fold purpose. The wide brim kept the sun off of my back and face and the net kept bugs out of my eyes and mouth.
The best thing about my Bug Hat Boonie is the fact when I am done. All I have to do is unzip, pack the netting back into the top, and I am good to go until next time. In fact, when I got home I put the hat and netting back on to mow the yard. Again, I had no issues with bugs – except the two who wanted to go fishing again.
Hmmm….maybe Bug Hat should make “ear-hats” …
Until next time, keep the bugs out of your face. I will be fishing.
What would you say is the most dangerous animal on Earth? Sharks? Snakes? Humans?
Of course the answer depends on how you define dangerous. Personally I have had a thing about sharks since the first time I saw Jaws. But if you’re judging by how many people are killed by an animal every year, then the answer isn’t any of the above. It’s mosquitoes.
When it comes to killing humans, no other animal even comes close. Take a look:
What makes mosquitoes so dangerous? Despite their innocuous-sounding name—Spanish for “little fly”—they carry devastating diseases. The worst is malaria, which kills more than 600,000 people every year; another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time. It threatens half of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. Other mosquito-borne diseases include dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis.
There are more than 2,500 species of mosquito, and mosquitoes are found in every region of the world except Antarctica. During the peak breeding seasons, they outnumber every other animal on Earth, except termites and ants. They were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the construction of the Panama Canal. And they affect population patterns on a grand scale: In many malarial zones, the disease drives people inland and away from the coast, where the climate is more welcoming to mosquitoes.
Considering their impact, you might expect mosquitoes to get more attention than they do. Sharks kill fewer than a dozen people every year and in the U.S. they get a week dedicated to them on TV every year. Mosquitoes kill 50,000 times as many people, but if there’s a TV channel that features Mosquito Week, I haven’t heard about it.
That’s why we’re having Mosquito Week on the Gates Notes.
Everything I’m posting this week is dedicated to this deadly creature. You can learn about my recent trip to Indonesia to see an ingenious way to combat dengue fever by inoculating not people, but mosquitoes. (Somehow this story involved me offering up my bare arm to a cage full of hungry mosquitoes so they could feed on my blood.) You can read a harrowing account of what it’s like to have malaria and hear from an inspiring Tanzanian scientist who’s fighting it. And I’ve shared a few thoughts from Melinda’s and my recent trip to Cambodia, where I saw some fascinating work that could point the way to eradicating malaria, which would be one of the greatest accomplishments in health ever.
I hope you’ll have a look around. I can’t promise that Anopheles gambiae will be quite as exciting as hammerheads and Great Whites. But maybe you’ll come away with a new appreciation for these flying masters of mayhem.
At Bughat, we try hard to foster a culture that gives back to local and global communities through our pocketbooks and our actions. One of the ways we do this is by giving back 2% of every sale to various charities and causes that we feel extremely pationate about. One of the charities that we donate to is the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. This week is Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week and we are working hard to get the word out on this debilitating disease that has no treatments and no cure.
What is Mitochondrial disease you ask? Well first of all, mitochondria are the tiny organelles found in the cells in the body. They are known as the "powerhouse of the cell." and are responsible for creating more than 90% of cellular energy. Mitochondrial failure causes cell injury that leads to cell death. When multiple organ cells die there is organ failure. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole systems begin to fail, and that person's life is severely compromised.
The disease primarily affects children, but adult onset is becoming more common. Symptoms may include loss of motor control, muscle weakness and pain, gastrointestinal disorders and swallowing difficulties, poor growth, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, respiratory complications, seizures, visual or hearing problems, lactic acidosis, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection. Mitochondrial disease can manifest in many forms, affecting people in different ways.
For additional information about this invisible killer, please see the following;
About Mitochondrial Disease - MitoAction.org
The invisible disease that's killing our son
Arlington 5-year old raising awareness for rare mitochondrial disease
Mito Kids Fight a Deadly Disease
The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation Home Page
Also, we occassionally post information about Mito Disease on our Bughat Facebook Page.
Living in the Deep South, there are two things that one can be assured of. In the summer, being bombarded with gnats in the day and mosquitoes (skeeters as we call them) at night. Strangely, we actually like the gnats as they keep Yankees away. Here is a perfect scenario:
Once, will driving down the road headed approximately nowhere in particular as is the case of many who drive in the Deep South, I chanced upon someone trying to change a tire. Changing a tire in the summer in the South is, well, interesting. Imagine doing aerobic exercise in a sauna wearing a full length fur coat. Under the direction of a Marine Drill Instructor. Who just got divorced. Again. And lost everything. Again. Get the point? Good. Back to the story.
The tag on the back of the car said New Jersey or something New – I knew it was not New Mexico because they deal with similar heat. This person was fighting the tire as much as the gnats. At one point, he began swinging the tire iron violently at the gnats in the vain hope of chasing them away.
If you are not sure what a gnat is, here is a primer. It is a small fly that likes sweat and rapid body movement. They also like ears, eyes and nasal passages. Get the point? Good.
So, eventually, I offered help. (After I stopped laughing). I got out of the truck and put on my bughat. The yankee, in a sudden epiphany, asked if the hat worked on bees and mosquitos. I told him it did, and gave him the website.
After I got the tire on and got him on his way, I realized the error of my ways. If he buys a bughat, more Yankees may come south and move in ... the horror... the horror...
No-see-ums are small biting flies that appear during the summer months. These tiny biting insects are barely visible to the naked eye, but their bites can be very painful and annoying. Also known as biting midges or punkies, these minute insects are probably familiar to outdoor enthusiasts, gardeners, farmers, and ranchers. Each year, I get several calls from residents that think they have flea bites or chiggers, but after speaking to them, we usually find they have been bitten by no-see-ums.
Literature references indicate that no-see-um species found in Arizona and the southwest are of the genus Culicoides (family Ceratopogonidae). Adult no-see-ums are less than 1/16-inch long, can easily pass through normal window screens, and resemble a smaller, more compact version of the mosquito. They are most active in early mornings and evenings of mid to late summer. Mouth parts are well developed with elongated mandibles adapted for blood sucking. Both males and females feed on flower nectar but only the female feeds on blood. She must consume blood for her eggs to mature and become viable.
No-see-um eggs are laid on moist soil. Common breeding areas include the edges of springs, streams and ponds, muddy and swampy areas, tree holes, and even water associated with air conditioning units. University of Arizona Entomologist, Carl Olson, says they also breed in moist disturbed soil such as that found around construction sites or freshly plowed ground. The eggs hatch in as little as 3 days. The wormlike larvae have short brush like breathing structures that allows them to breathe in an aquatic environment. Although larvae are not strictly aquatic or terrestrial, they cannot develop without moisture. After feeding on decomposing organic matter and pupating, adults emerge, feed, and mate.
As mentioned previously, bites of these tiny flies are painful and irritating. The bite usually starts as a small red welt (1/8" or so) or water-filled blister that itches. Once scratched, the welt can break open and bleed, but the itching usually continues. Allergic or sensitive individuals may develop long-lasting painful and itchy lesions. Bite treatments recommended by some dermatologists include topical cortisone creams and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Persons having severe reactions should consult a physician or dermatologist.
Insect repellents containing DEET typically used against mosquitoes are also labeled for use against biting midges. Always follow the label precautions and apply before exposure to the insects. Botanical insect repellents (those containing citronella, eucalyptus, and other plant extracts) may also provide some protection. Occasionally no-see-ums and biting midges will enter houses and screened patios through standard 16 mesh screening and netting or damaged areas of the screen. If this is the case you can replace damaged screen with tighter mesh screen, treat existing screen with an approved insecticide such permethrin, or use fans to keep them from flying in your general vicinity.
The best strategy to prevent no-see-um bites is to wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, shoes and socks, and a hat during times when no-see-ums are most active. Choose lighter colored garments and consider hats with fine meshed netting. No-see-um-proof netting is also available and outdoor equipment companies market head nets, jackets, and pants made from this material. These products may come in handy depending on your preferences and outdoor activity preferences. While I don't own one, the head net seems like an excellent idea. Of course, these same strategies are also effective against mosquitoes and black flies.
No-see-ums are primarily a nuisance. The major medical issue associated with them is allergic reactions to the bites. However, like other blood feeding flies, some Culicoides species carry pathogens that can cause disease in humans and animals. One species (Culicoides sonorensis) is known to transmit the bluetongue virus, a serious disease of sheep and cattle.
By Jeff Schalau, Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County, University Of Arizona
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