On Mosquitoes

They say that folks don’t hunt turkeys in the Arkansas Delta because the mosquitoes there have interbred with them and reduced the size and increased the blood content of wild turkeys to the point where hunters shun them.


They say that, at certain times of the year, mosquitoes in the Arkansas Delta will keep a person awake at night cracking hickory nuts that have fallen to the ground.


They say that mothers in the Arkansas Delta once tied cotton-scale weights to their babies at night to prevent swarms of mosquitoes from carrying them away.


I have always doubted some mosquito stories myself but I do know that, of a dusky dark in rice country, you can hear a sound much like that of a freight train approaching as swarms of the pesky creatures arrive to take up their nightly residence.


That is why we laugh when we see a movie “about the south” where a character looks wistfully at night through a window that isn’t covered with screen.


William Faulkner even wrote a book (his second) called Mosquitoes, in which the creatures serve as a metaphor for elements of society that swarm around and torment one another.


To me, they represent another burden for a land that has shouldered so many. Communities that are situated for growth languish because of the pesky critters. Families hide indoors at night, not because of crime, but because they fear attack by waiting hordes of Culicidae Aggravatus. Folks from up north poke fun at us. Other animals suffer nightly. Folks can only wait for the first killing frost.


For a time, crop pesticides would kill off the pests in the summer and families would enjoy, for a brief spell, a respite during which they could sit outdoors, enjoy the night sky, and even let small dogs romp in the yard without fear of being kidnapped. Then they discovered that those chemicals would soon kill off the rest of the world and their use ceased. The mosquitoes came back, likely for good. As they swarm about, though, they buzz around some of the most fertile land on the planet. Humankind’s existence is a complicated affair.


I see where there is a new film based on the myth of Noah and the Universal Flood. I say “myth” because anyone familiar with the South knows that no self-respecting man would have allowed those two buzzing infidels on his boat



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