Now that summer has officially arrived it’s no surprise there are a few annoyances tied to the season; the two leading the ‘annoying’ category are the mosquitoes and the tourists. I’ve written about the latter ‘ad nauseum’; the ambivalence I feel towards the masses are shared by all the locals. Tourist dollars keep Talkeetna healthy but to get those dollars we must deal with hordes of RVs, trailers, fifth wheels, campers and people strung out along Main Street. The latest insults are those that feel it’s okay to walk down the center of the Spur in town and Main Street; they might move for traffic or they might not. This is just plain irritating and more than once I’ve wanted to lay on the horn and give the real stragglers a good push but I’ve reigned in my frustrations and remained ‘civilized’ while waiting them out. The only solution I’ve found to this point is to avoid going into the village as much as possible; without question we just surrender Talkeetna to the tourists from mid-May through mid-September. More than once I’ve longed for an over-protective moose cow with a spring calf to wander into the village; the tourists are dumb enough to want to pose ‘up close and personal’ with the wildlife and that would no doubt winnow down their numbers!
However, by far the most annoying summer insult are the masses of mosquitoes. There seems to be no end to their number but I have noticed an ‘evolution’ to their population. In mid-April through mid-May they were mainly the large, slow-moving variety. I’ve speculated these had to be carry-overs from the previous year given their size as there’s no way they could grow so large in such a short time especially as the night-time lows were still solidly freezing any liquid water. I’m guessing these critters find a way to survive the winters maybe by hiding in decaying vegetable matter which gets covered with snow; the slow decay releases enough heat to allow them to keep from freezing solid. Once the spring sun melts off enough of the snow pack they once again take to the air and begin the mosquito season. By early to mid-June their numbers appear to dwindle; perhaps they are not built to live for two full seasons? If this was the end of the story it would be great but sadly this is not the case.
They seem slowly supplanted by very small versions of themselves; I’d guess the smaller mosquitoes are maybe one fifth to one eighth the size of the large ones. However, they are even more voracious and what they lack in size they make up for in sheer numbers. Based upon their smaller size they also appear to have a number of advantages over their larger kin. They are much harder to hear and its virtually impossible to feel them land upon one’s bare skin. As such they are a real pain to keep at bay. I’ve yet to discover a means to keep them from coming in on the dog’s coats which means I’ve now adopted a new routine. Any time the dogs have been outdoors, regardless of duration, I keep them in the mud room for maybe fifteen minutes and then I enter with my trusty can of ‘Country Vet Fly Spray’ which has a fairly potent pyrethrin content. I briefly brush the dogs watching for any departing mosquitoes and then give each of them a spritz of the spray. The spray is approved for food surfaces and hence is not toxic although I’d prefer not having to use it at all. Then I let the dogs into the main house, give them another fifteen minutes and start a ‘search and destroy’ mission. Without a doubt I will find and kill at least five additional mosquitoes.
Even doing all this does not insure a mosquito free dwelling; I learned a month back that its wise to make a final pass through the main floor just prior to crashing with the same spray. I give each corner and all overhangs a brief spritz of the spray before heading upstairs to my bedroom. This pretty much guarantees I will get a good night’s sleep sans mosquito bites; in the morning I clean off all the mosquito corpses on the window sills. Of course with each new morning we begin the entire process anew. I’m just thankful I’ve discovered ‘Deep Woods Off’ which is the only product I’ve tried that keeps the outdoor mosquitoes at bay when I’m outside. It is 25% DEET and while the substance is supposed to be safe when used as directed I still am not a fan. But then I’m not sanguine with running the risk of exsanguination every time I walk outside either; given the options I’ll use the DEET.
Not that I needed another reason to favor the Talkeetna winters but this issue surely supports my love of the snow and cold. I can deal with -25 F air temps by just dressing properly; the only way to attempt to deal with the hordes of vampire-like mosquitoes is to employ chemical repellents and cross one’s fingers. Given the mosquitoes and the tourists I have yet another couple of solid reasons to yearn for the first hard frost…