Wolf Point Herald

Column: From The Editor's Desk -- Mosquitoes On Steroids

Mosquitoes on steroids.
At least it seems that way.
Sometimes we want to have a swatfest with the blood-sucking pests, especially when they follow us in swarms and fly in our faces.
The recent monsoon that brought significant rainfall and left pooling water has compounded the problem.
The little pests are horrific on the Wolf Point High School football field, greatly outnumbering the human fans, possibly attracted to moisture from the grass being watered. Being on the sidelines taking pictures the three times the Wolves have played at home so far this season, I couldn’t help but wonder if the annoying little pests had been doing pushups, getting in shape for game nights at Lowry Field.
I felt like mosquito bait with nothing to fight back the first two game nights. I bought a can of bug spray with deet before the third home game, Friday, Sept. 19, so I hit the sidelines cocked and loaded with my sidearm of bug spray in the right side pant leg pocket of my cargo pants, waiting for my quick draw the first sign of a mosquito landing on me. The result was definitely better than the previous two games I attended.
The next night, I covered the Culbertson Homecoming game for The Searchlight. Only one shot of bug spray before the opening kick-off took care of the situation for four quarters, unlike having to reload my exposed skin with bug juice every 20 minutes at the Wolf Point game. I will stop short of saying Cul-
bertson has kinder, gentler mosquitoes.
Hopefully not offending the opposite gender, the female really is the deadliest of the specie when it comes to mosquitoes. The males do not bite. Female mosquitoes bite with a vengeance needing blood to develop fertile eggs.
Typically, females lay their eggs in standing water, including puddles and pooling water in some of our back yards [mine!], or near the edge of a lake, river or large pool of water.
So what really happens when a mosquito bites and we end up with a red, itchy “bug bite?” The female mosquito coats the surface of the skin with her salivation while piercing our flesh and sucking blood, causing the irritation, welt, and the itching and scratching that goes with it.
What’s worse, mosquitoes can transmit diseases. Mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile Virus in six Montana counties in 2013. Sheridan, Phillips and Blaine were three of those counties.
Are you mosquito bait?
We wonder why a swarm of mosquitoes follows us when we’re enjoying a game or a barbecue. Then we have that swatfest, but they are unfazed. That begs the question: Do mosquitoes prefer some people over others? Yes, they can be finicky [blood] eaters and not to be mistaken for finicky cats and some humans.
According to webmd.com, mosquitoes don’t like all of us. They are attracted to about 10 percent of us.
So what is an ideal hunk of human flesh?
Webmd.com reports that the surface is barely scratched with research into what scents or compounds people emanate that attract mosquitoes. However, genetics account for about 85 percent of our vulnerability to mosquito bites. Some elements of body chemistry attract mosquitoes. Carbon dioxide attracts mosquitoes. The presence of generous amounts of steroids and even cholesterol on the skin attract mosquitoes. So does eating healthier by woofing down fewer greasy burgers and fries lead to less vulnerability to mosquito bites? Maybe.
But that’s not the entire story.
What might even be a little scary is that mosquitoes can smell their dinner from as much as 50 meters. That’s 164 feet or half the football field plus nearly five yards.
When temperatures became cooler recently, dipping to the low 30s some nights, the mosquitoes survived. You’d almost think the little critters were in overcoats. The truth is they don’t go away for the winter. They just hide, stay inactive and we don’t see them. Mosquitoes lay robust eggs that hatch when conditions become favorable with warmer weather and moisture from rainfall or melting snow.
Mosquitoes are a type of fly and like all flies, go through four stages in their lifecycles: egg, larva, pupa [transformation stage] and adult, when they become flying, biting pests.
The name “mosquito” comes from both Spanish and Portuguese meaning “little fly.”
Now we may ask why other summer nuisances, non-bloodsucking flies, keep coming back for more when we shoo them away or swing our fly swatters at them.
The truth is flies like us, but for different reasons than mosquitoes. According to my online research, our bodies are attractive to flies because we radiate a sense of warmth and nourishment just as their favorite foods, feces and rotting flesh. Unbeknownst to us, flies sitting on our forearms might be sucking up oil, salt and dead skin with their straw-like tongues. They might also be looking for a warm place to poop, puke or lay eggs.
Gross enough for you?
So swat on brother and take the shovel out of the basement because winter is almost here and we will have something different to complain about.

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First Dollar Award For Old Town Grill


Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture board member Jerald Petersen (at right) presents the First Dollar Award to Old Town Grill owners Brad and DeeDee Iwen, Friday, Sept. 19. Their daughter Ashley Iwen, (left) is an employee of the restaurant.   (Photo by John Plestina)

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Nemont Sponsors Distracted Driving Program at Area Schools


Nemont sponsored a program that teaches teens distracted driving prevention at Wolf Point and Poplar high schools this week. It is part of the national Save A Life Tour. Pictured is Justin Boss of Grand Rapids, Mich., working with Wolf Point seventh-grader Jori White Hawk, who is in the distracted driving simulator.  (Photo by John Plestina)

Nemont knows that texting while driving is a serious concern. That’s why they are sponsoring the “Save a Life Tour” at seven local schools in the area.
“Statistics are scary when you figure that 34 percent of teens have said that they have texted while driving. That’s why the “Save a Life Tour” is so important to us. We take this safety concern seriously and want to educate our customers on the true dangers of it,” said Nemont’s CEO Mike Kilgore.
The “Save a Life Tour” includes eight hours of multimedia distracted driving information, including two distracted driving simulators and presentations. Real-life videos are shown and students are asked to sign a pledge not to text and drive.
Nemont is bringing the program to the following schools: Williston High School, Culbertson High School, Glasgow High School, Scobey High School, Poplar High School, Plentywood High School and Wolf Point High School. Parents are welcome to attend the morning assembly to help Nemont educate everyone the to dangers of texting while driving.

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First Dollar Award For LaBelle Nails


Wolf Point Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture board member Nicole Huber (at right) presents the First Dollar Award to LaBelle Nails owner Vickie Delger, Thursday, Sept. 18. LaBelle Nails opened in April and is located at 700 Knapp Street.   (Photo by John Plestina)

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Roosevelt’s Rail Car Visits Area


The rail car President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used for whistle-stop tours in the 1930s passed through Wolf Point, Poplar, Culbertson and
Bainville, Thursday, Sept. 18, connected to the eastbound Amtrak Empire Builder. John Paul DeJoria, the owner of Patrón Tequila and a partner in Paul Mitchell hair care, travels the nation in his private 87-year-old railcar, the Patrón Tequila Express.   (Photo by John Plestina)

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