If spring comes can bugs be far behind? (A paraphrase of” Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelly.)
Welcome to bug season!
When spring explodes at Brant Lake, so do the bugs. Buds and bugs. They ride in tandem.
First, in early spring, emerging from eggs hatching in water, come hordes of blackflies, which you probably recognize as a member of the family Simuliidae of the Culicomorpha infraorder. Nasty little fellows who feed in daytime and prefer the tender skin of the neck, ears or ankles. There are over 1800 species of black flies, more than enough to evoke welts, curses and full body armor.
When the black fly population diminishes, or takes a break from nibbling the culinary delight called humans, horseflies visit. These fellows really sting and the bites emanate from the female who needs blood to breed. Blood to breed. A catchy phrase! The fact that only the females bite could lead to certain antifeminist remarks which I will avoid.
The horsefly is also known as a gadfly from the word “gad” meaning a spike, and they are referred to in literature. For instance, Aeschylus writes, “lo: Ah! Hah! Again the prick, the stab of gadfly sting!” (Exact reference supplied on request.) Shakespeare refers to this pest in King Lear, further enabling the horsefly to boast of its heritage.
Finally, the mosquito. The mosquito, of whom scant description is necessary. The mosquito, Spanish for “little fly,” leaves a rash and the recipient can busy himself for many hours scratching. Even worse than the bite is the bark, (excuse the mixed metaphor), a buzz that can drive a man or a woman insane. According to legend, armies were powerless against General Titus but when a mosquito lodged in his ear the constant buzz brought the mighty Roman warrior to his feet.
So what is the point of my bugging the reader with bugs? Very simple. I believe a person’s character can be defined by analyzing their reaction to these flying inhabitants of the North Country. The optimist, confident he or she can deter the flying squadron, dabs on Bert’s Bees, Off, Avon Skin So Soft and whatever new “guaranteed to work” exists in the pharmacy. Then the person is protected and can safely enter the world of nature. Sometimes the users cover themselves with three or four lotions at once. A triple-decker defense
Human versus bug! Who wins? You decide.
Then there is the pessimist. Suspicious of all anti-bug lotions, the pessimist waits for the bite, feels the first tingling, sees the red mark and covers himself in After Bite.
Finally, in contrast to optimists and pessimists there is the laid-back, non-reactor who, believing bugs belong to the Brant Lake environment, does—nothing, except a little scratch here, a little scratch there, and with the passage of time, all reverts to normal.
Who wins in the battle of the ages? Probably only the bugs. So I wonder why men and women persist in the futile attempt to defeat the undefeatable.