Thursday, September 22, 2016
The plague of the biting midge
By nature and conviction, I swear I'm not paranoid, and certainly not subject to insane conspiracy theories. I tend to believe in experts and expert opinion, but on this one nobody freaking knows. Go ahead--do the research. Look for yourself.
Right now the real terrorists in the neighborhood aren't religious or fanatic. They're a mite-sized bug so small you don't have a clue they're on you until you feel a needle of pain. Then you look and see nothing. The pain gets worse, and then there's another on your ankle, and you're wondering what kind of Twilight Zone you've stepped into. You stop what you're doing and look close, and then--and only then--do you see this itsy-bitsy beast, and only when you look really, really close. They're awful, and they're everywhere. They slip into the house as if a screen is a joke. They're on this page, for pity sake.
Two days ago, after two weeks away, I was looking forward to working outside, ripping out twisted tomato plants that still haven't worn out even though we have. There was a jungle out there, but it was a perfectly sweet late summer afternoon and would've been a great day if I hadn't spent more time whacking an invasion of irritation than I did deconstructing plants. I went inside, put on a bigger shirt--that helped, but I would have had to don something from a Hazmat locker to escape 'em.
Yesterday, same thing, same time, same station. I lasted twenty minutes before I threw in the towel.
Yesterday my wife went to town and claimed she heard all kinds of people cuss about those tiny little insects. "They're awful. What are they anyway?" I'd begun to regard them as the kind of curse arranged for country people only. Nope. They're townies, too. The whole region's besieged.
Truth be known, I'm starting to think no one knows what they are, and the reason is simple. My armchair research says that they're some nameless branch of the fly family, from the Order Diptera in the family Ceratopogonidae, a definition which does nothing to quell my outrage. Here's the real bottom line--there are at least 4000 species of these terrifying tikes, which means that your guess is as good as mine or Dr. Insector Inspector down at the state u. I swear I'd nail it all down, but I can barely see the dumb things.
Call 'em what you want. Everybody else does. "Biting midge," one website says, is a common name, but here in North America (they're everywhere, they're everywhere) people frequently call them “no-see-ums,” which isn't bad but feels sort of gracious to me, given that they chased me indoors for two afternoons straight. People in the northeast call them “punkies." They aren't. They're the real darn thing.
My friends in the southwest call them "pinyon gnats," which suggests that they terrorize people out gathering nuts, which is sad. Down south, they're “five-O’s" because they don't start their assault until late afternoon (Reb insects are lazier than Yankees), and Canadians call them “moose flies." Canadians are a hoot, aren't they? Talk about oxymoronic.
Tell you what, I'll just call 'em a plague and hope their shelf life is two or three days because I'd like to get back outside without dressing as if I'm from the bomb squad.
Seriously, they're everywhere. Yesterday I had a meeting, sort of, downtown. We arrived a little early, had to stand outside until the chair arrived. Guess what? In no time at all we were slapping at invisible enemies. There they were AT CITY HALL.
Pharaoh must have been insanely stubborn. This plague we're in is something awful. I'd have let those people go.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 7:03 AM