Parched mosquitoes are buzzing off -- for now
DULUTH - Do you hear that familiar whine in the woods at dusk? Probably not. So far this summer, mosquitoes have been a relatively scarce commodity in northern Minnesota. That's good news for campers and others who enjoy being in the woods. "Norm...
DULUTH - Do you hear that familiar whine in the woods at dusk?
So far this summer, mosquitoes have been a relatively scarce commodity in northern Minnesota. That's good news for campers and others who enjoy being in the woods.
"Normally, mowing the grass this time of year is borderline head-net time," said Mark Darling, who runs Trail's End Cafe near the tip of the Gunflint Trail north of Grand Marais.
Rains this past week, especially if followed by higher temperatures, could change all that, said Jeffrey Hahn, extension entomologist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service in St. Paul.
"We're starting to see mosquitoes down here," Hahn said. "I suspect you'll be seeing them soon. This rain is going to help. If we get warm weather, the mosquitoes will really have a field day."
But so far this year, blackflies and mosquitoes haven't been a factor, say Darling and other canoe outfitters. The same is true in the Ely area.
"Mosquitoes haven't been that big of a deal," said Dave Sebesta, outfitting manager at Williams and Hall Canoe Outfitters on Moose Lake near Ely. "They've been kind of slow. There are no puddles of water sitting in the woods."
Wrenshall naturalist Larry Weber agrees with Sebesta's theory about the lack of standing water. A dry April and mostly dry May meant there was little of the water in which mosquitoes like to lay their eggs.
"Definitely at my house we're having fewer mosquitoes," Weber said. "We had a dry April, and a lot of the vernal ponds dried up."
So far, having fewer mosquitoes has meant more happy campers, said Darling, whose dad, Bud Darling, owns Way of the Wilderness Canoe Outfitters on the Gunflint Trail. But one aspect of business is down.
"We're selling less bug repellent this year," Mark Darling said.
Blackflies, usually a scourge about Memorial Day weekend, appeared much earlier and lasted a short time. Their larval form lives in moving water, and water levels in many streams were low that time of year.
They were out for a few days in early May but haven't been seen since.
Minnesota has about 50 strains of mosquitoes, Hahn said, but not all of them bite humans.
"That's one of the beauties of living here," Weber said. "If we don't have one strain, we'll have another."