BUGS IN THE BAY
Duane K. McCullough
Sometimes near the mangrove roots we can also see hundreds of small spider-like water bugs called Water Striders clustered together as floating thin brown fuzzy mats with some nearby rapidly skating and swirling over the water using the surface tension of the water to stay out of the water without breaking through.
You know when late Spring has arrived when the annoying Deer Fly tries to bite parts of your face. This act is shortly followed a week or so later by the Horse Fly softly landing on your ankle and digs in for its meal of blood. There is a trick in killing biting Horse Flies -- first, wait until they calm down after landing for about two seconds and then slap them sideways to roll them. A simple slap will only make them bounce off like a rubber raisin, only to return.
In the early Summer, large green dragon flies are seen flittering around the creeks trying to capture mosquitoes on the fly. All dragonflies are amazing in their remarkable ability to hover in the air and land so carefully. Like some futuristic helicopter design, they are a source of wonder. I'm glad they eat mosquitoes.
You know when Summer has truly arrived when the whine of mosquitoes will make you realize why you don't visit some areas in Florida Bay a week or two after the rainy season begins. These little blood suckers will make you do a crazy dance trying the shake them off. While dancing, it makes one wonder how the early natives ever survived this aspect of life in the bay.
Actually, I noticed that when I lived onboard my sailboat long ago, the mosquitoes would not be a problem if I ate a couple of small oranges a day. Perhaps the citric acid within the oranges mixed with my blood in such a way that the bugs were kept away.
However bad the mosquitoes can be, their little cousins the Sand Gnats or "no-seeums" can be much worse. Much smaller than mosquitoes, these tiny munchkins will get in your hair and on your ears near sunset or sunrise if the wind lays down and can make life very unpleasant for a few hours. On full moon nights, these bugs can't tell if its sunset or sunrise and will bite all night long.
You also know when mid-Summer has a arrived when the steady drone chorus of the Cicadas can be heard through the woods. After emerging out of their nymph skins that they leave behind hanging on tree trunks and other places, thousands of Cicadas will sound for a month or two before loosing their lives to the elements. I'm glad these two inch long beetle-like flies don't bite -- they get their nourishment from the roots of trees as nymphs while they hibernate over long periods of time. Now if we can only train the biting bugs that trick...
Rare summertime north winds from the Everglades will also bring the Lubber grasshopper to the bay area. These grasshoppers are one of the most strangest colorful bugs one can hold in your hand. Lubber grasshoppers from the Everglades can be very large -- over 3 inches long, and have incredible detail in their body armor designs.
Of course there are many more types of insects found in the bay area, but there is not enough time to cover them all.
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