Mosquito Season

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Image credit: July 10, 1920 issue of the Alaska Daily Empire.

Mosquitoes occupy a special place in the landscape of Alaska. According to a survey from 1961, Alaska is home to approximately 35 individual species of mosquitoes. Their large numbers lend them the label as the unofficial state bird. In fact, the largest North American species of mosquito, the Snow Mosquito, calls Alaska home. In these dog days of summer, it’s worth a look at Alaska historical newspapers covered these pest- besides swatting them with a rolled up issue, of course!

MOSQUITOES EATING MINERS: "Senator" Charley Hill and F.M. Schroeder, who are amongst the old Nomeites who returned from the Inoko yesterday, state that the busiest beings along that river are the mosquitoes. They came down stream on a scow, which was the only thing built by the lumber mill that had been brought in by an enterprising individual, and on which another Nome man, who was their fellow traveler, went pretty near jumping overboard because of the attacks of the stinging insects.
Image credit: from the August 8, 1907 issue of the Nome Daily Nugget.
Female is most deadly: Mosquito Expert Now in Yukon Says Lady Mosquitoes Do All the Biting; The following descriptions of the habits of mosquitoes and also the habits of the famous mosquito expert who has been in the interior will give Alaskans some idea of the nature of the pests. It is from the Dawson News. Harrison G. Dyar, A.M., Ph. D., of the United States National Museum of Washington, D.C., who visited Dawson last week, is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, authorities in the world on mosquitoes. He has devoted years to the study of the mosquito in various countries and under all conditions. He came to the coast some time ago to study the pest; he spent much time in British Columbia, and gathered specimens at all points en route to Dawson. Considerable time was spent at Prince Rupert, and again at Whitehorse. He found the mosquitoes quite common at Whitehorse and secured 4,000 of them there. The mosquitoes, he believes, might be reduced, if not exterminated there by proper drainage and treatment of the water. Some time ago an experiment was made of trying to kill them with kerosene, but it is reported that oil was applied the wrong way, and not sprinkled and generally distributed as it should have been, and desired results were not obtained. At Dawson the doctor secured several hundred mosquitoes. He would have found them much more numerous on the creeks, especially where there are no settlements and little drainage, and on the tundra stretches of new creeks or unoccupied areas. Of the thousands of mosquitoes which the professor captured in the Yukon, he found one single mosquito which he classed as belonging to the malaria carrying class, and none of the others were classified as disease carriers, which explains in one way why Yukon is such a healthy country in the summer.
Image credit: Douglas Island news. (Douglas City, Alaska), 01 Aug. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
Geologist Talks of Alaskan Mosquito: H.M. Eakin, of Washington, D.C., of the United States geological survey employed in Alaska, yields the palm for bloodthirstiness and general all-around depravity to the Alaskan mosquito. While a geologist and mineralogist, Mr. Eakin has been forced through his many trips through the wilds to become also more or less of an oologist, especially where mosquitoes are concerned, and he has interested himself enough in the matter to collect data as to the habits of the insect. "The Alaskan mosquito has no rivals when it comes to personal bravery, fierceness, and meanness," he said. "I have had much experienced with mosquitoes, including those which reside along the Missouri river in the Dakotas. The Missouri river mosquito has long had a reputation as a ferocious insect, but in comparison to the beaked peril of the North it is merely an incident of travel. The mosquito of the central portions of America has a vacillating character. I might even go as far as to say that it is diffident and shrinking. When a foe comes in sight instead of rushing at the prospective meal this mosquito pauses, hesitates and sings a song to lull the senses of the victim before coming to bayonet range. "The mosquito of Alaska, however, has no scruples nor delicacy. It advances to the attack like a maddened hornet and wastes no time in mental queries as to whether the traveler is impregnated with nicotine or not. It is business first and the bill is presented at once. I am reliably informed that for every square foot of territory there are 150 mosquitoes. Thus as every mosquito disturbed by the forrt of the passerby arises from his down couch and pursues the meal ticket you can readily see that by the time a man has walked a mile or more he has quite a few mosquitoes attached to him as a convoy."
Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 04 June 1915. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

Stay safe outdoors and arm yourself with plenty of insect repellent!

 

 

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