Sep 13 2012
On Thursday the weather was warmer with much less wind. By mid afternoon I’d tallied three Best Birds: a merlin, an American golden-plover and a pectoral sandpiper.
When I was ready to leave I dawdled in the parking lot with the car doors open while I stashed my gear and ate a snack. Then I hit the road for South Portland more than an hour away.
I shouldn’t have dawdled.
Halfway between Bath and Brunswick I felt a sharp burning pinprick on the skin near my ankle. A pause… and then another pain right next to it. A pause… and then a third pain on my shin.
This was happening to my driving leg, the leg that was maintaining a steady 50-55 mph on Route 1, the leg responsible for applying the brake, the leg sheathed in a hiking sock and long pants. The leg I could not even look at until I found a place to pull off the expressway.
I remember wondering: Is something wrong with my leg? Had my nervous system developed a strange pain syndrome? Three more pinpricks!! What is causing this!??
And then a large mosquito flew up from the area near the gas pedal and headed slowly for the back of the car.
This was not a mosquito I was prepared for. This was no ordinary Pennsylvania woodland mosquito, the kind you can escape if you just keep moving, the kind that can’t cope with wind, that bites you almost painlessly, that can’t bite through clothing and would just as soon bite your neck as your ankle.
No, this was a salt marsh mosquito, a persistent and repetitive biter, the kind that flies with you as you walk, that bites right through your clothing, that prefers to eat your ankles and legs, that ruins many a day at the beach.
I was outraged! How dare she!
When I reached Brunswick the expressway ended. I pulled over and parked in a fast food parking lot. I looked in the back of the car and saw her resting on the wall near the back window.
Carefully, I opened the back passenger door. And then in one swat I killed her.
She will NEVER bite me again!
(photo of the salt marsh mosquito, Ochlerotatus sollicitans, linked from the University of Florida Medical Entymology Laboratory Click on the image to see the original on the mosquito identification page.)