Another fine spring day has encouraged a growth spurt in the local vegetation and the hatching of new insects. We have been walking by the river frequently as there are no mosquitos (yet) and the river grasses are just a few inches high making it easy to access the edge of the water. We are still waiting for the majority of migrating birds to make a local appearance. When they arrive in a couple of weeks, the leaves on the trees will make them more difficult to see. The Canada Goose goslings are on the water now, cute as can be, but threatening a further population boom for this species.
Dakota loves to go into the river. The current is lazy and the water levels have decreased by several feet since last month. He was swarmed by tiny flying insects as he came out of the river, and we walked through clouds of them along the banks. This area of the river flows by limestone cliffs that are a nesting area for swallows. The swallows were out in large numbers, swooping over the water, no doubt enjoying the insect infestation.
They flew from the cliffs over to a tree on the opposite bank where we were walking. I have seen bright blue tree swallows in this area too, but have not been fortunate enough to see them perch on a branch. These bank swallows were gregarious and lovely to watch in flight.
With mosquito season just around the corner, we will be visiting our vet to get the dog's heartworm medication. Heartworm was unheard of in our area twenty years ago, but many cases are now identified each year. Another mosquito-borne disease that has recently arrived here is West Nile Virus. While most people are only mildly ill if infected, there are some who succumb to the illness. I dislike mosquitoes and prefer to spend the summers near the Great Lakes where strong breezes keep the biting insects away. I will only go to inland lakes in the fall season. While there are effective repellants, I prefer to minimize my use of them. Mosquitoes are a big problem in the Canadian northland. Some communities do aerial spraying to control them. I don't know what is worse; the risk of disease, or the health risk from chemicals.
I will be doing fewer river walks on warm, still evenings in the late spring and summer, choosing higher ground on windy days and day trips to Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
Grandma's Birding Friends with Mosquito Gear 1942
How do you cope in mosquito season? Repellant, netting, avoidance...?