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The Mast-Head: Stinging Summer

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 18:49

I texted a neighbor the other day asking how the mosquitoes were over her way. Lucy, who usually has a decent amount to say, responded with just one word: bad. It was as if we were now enduring a new lockdown, of a different sort.

A renter down the road is so angry about the bugs that he wants his money back. He can’t sit outside or go for a walk. I’m pretty sure that the kids once again want to sell the house and move, ideally to Sag Harbor.

I get it. To take the kitchen scraps out to the compost heap takes getting suited up in long pants, shoes, and a hooded sweatshirt, but that only means the mosquitoes head straight for my face. The dogs nearly refuse to go outside to do their business, and when they do, race back to the door.

We sprint along the path to get to the beach. And once there, the stinging pests follow us into the water. I’ve neglected my garden in favor of keeping my platelet count high. Bug repellent spray works for a time, but it’s been so hot that it sweats away too quickly.

It’s been a strange season in that the mosquitoes, which normally come and go over the summer, have hung around relentlessly. Looking closely at the mosquitoes themselves, they all seem to be one type, small, light on the skin, and ill tempered; in other years, we’ve had big ones, small ones, lazy ones, aggressive ones.

It is reasonable to ask if climate change might be responsible. Indeed, various authorities say that the little bastards are sensitive to changes in the climate and that as conditions shift, so too will the mosquitoes. Milder winters, for example, allow eggs to survive, and some areas could even become year-round breeding grounds. And when it’s hot, they eat more and reproduce faster.

I stopped reading the mosquito info online when I got to the part about chikungunya and dengue fever.

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