Maine just ended one of the mildest winters in recorded weather history. On January first I took my motorcycle out for a run, just to be able to say I have done it. This winter I uses only a half tank of fuel oil and no more than one cord of wood for heat, saving me a grunch of money.
But there is a price yet to be paid.
Usually deep snow and zero and below temperatures kill off bug eggs and larva that were laid in the fall, somewhat moderating the spring hatch of midges, black flies, mosquitoes and now ticks (ticks are a new insect pest that have moved into Maine over the last thirty years.)
Even the normal bug season is a trial of endurance for anyone working or living in or near the woods. But, this mild winter heralds a bug season of fearful proportion.
An old Maine joke: Two mosquitoes are carrying off a moose and one turns to the other and says ‘let’s not carry him into the woods or the big ones will take him.’
I have live in the southern swamps and in the arctic, and I can testify that the farther north you go the worse and more numerous the blood sucking bugs become.
Henry David Thoreau visited Maine and wrote a book entitled The Maine Woods. It is said he had to cut his trip short because of the ravenous Maine insects in the woods during the summer time.
Dave Mallett (Maine’s folk singer) recently put out an album called Fable Truth, where he reads excerpts from Thoreau’s The Maine Woods – placing it to music.
Here is a selection called Camping.
There is a bug here in Maine we call a no-see-um. It is often mistakenly classified as a midge. They are so small they can come through a screen. When you do see them they appear as a speck of ash floating in the air. They are small but venomous little bastards - I have had bites from no-see-us swelled up like a hornet sting. I swear if no-see-ums were the size of bumble bees the human race would be extinct in the north country.
I dedicate this post to No-see-ums.