Summer twilight brings the mosquito. In fact, when we go far north or far south, we have him with us both by day and night. Rather I should say that we have her; for the male mosquito is a gentleman, who sips daintily of nectar and minds his own business, while madame his spouse is a whining, peevish, venomous virago, that goes about seeking whose nerves she may unstring and whose blood she may devour. Strange to say, not among mosquitoes only, but among ticks, fleas, chiggers, and the whole legion of bloodthirsty, stinging flies and midges, it is only the female that attacks man and beast. Stranger still, the mosquito is not only a bloodsucker but an incorrigible wine-bibber as well — it will get helplessly fuddled on any sweet wine, such as port, or on sugared spirits, while ol gin it is inordinately fond.
Such disreputable habits — the querulous sing' song, the poisoned sting, the thirst for blood, and the practice of getting dead drunk at every opportunity, are enough of themselves to make the mosquito a thing accursed; but these are by no mean.; the worst counts in our indictment against it. We have learned, within the past few years, that all the suffering and mortality from malaria, yellow fever, and filariasis (including the hideous and fatal elephantiasis of the tropics) is due to germs that are carried in no other way than by mosquitoes. Hies spread the germs of typhoid fever and malig aant eye diseases; fleas carry the bubonv: plague; the sleeping-sickness of Africa is transmitted by insects. There is no longer any guesswork about this: it is demonstrated fact. Professor Kellogg, summing up what is now known of the life history of malaria-bearing mosquitoes (Anopheles) says: 41 When in malarial regions, avoid the bite of a mosquito as you would that of a rattlesnake — one can be quite as serious in its results as the other".
The worst of it, from a sportsman's view-point, is that the farther we push toward the arctics or the tropics, the worse becomes the pest of dangerous insects. It is into just such countries that, nowadays and in future, we must go in order to get really first-class hunting and fishing. Consequently the problem of how best to fight our insect enemies becomes of ever increasing importance to all who love to hunt over and explore the wild places that are still left upon the earth.
Mosquitoes are bad enough in the tropics, but they are at their worst in the coldest regions of the earth.
Harry de Windt reports that at Verkhoyansk, in Siberia, which is the arctic pole of cold (where the winter temperature often sinks to -75° Fahr., and has been known to reach -81°) the mosquitoes make their appearance before the snow is off the ground, and throughout the three summer months, make life almost unbearable to the wretched natives and exiles. The swamps and shoaly lakes in the surrounding country breed mosquitoes in such incredible hosts that reindeer, sledge-dogs, and sometimes even the natives themselves, are actually tormented to death by them.
Throughout a great part of central and western Canada, and Alaska, there are vast tundras of bog moss, called by the Indians muskegs, which in summer are the breeding-grounds of unending clouds of mosquitoes whose biting powers exceed those of any insects known in the United States. Even if the muskeg land were not a morass, this plague of mosquitoes would forever render it uninhabitable in summer. The insects come out of their pupae at the first sprouting of spring vegetation, in May, and remain until destroyed by severe frosts in September. In Alaska, all animals leave for the snowline as soon as the mosquito pest appears, but the enemy follows them even to the mountain tops above timber-line. Deer and moose are killed by mosquitoes, which settle upon them in such amazing swarms that the unfortunate beasts succumb from literally having the blood sucked out of their bodies. Bears are driven frantic, are totally blinded, mire in the mud, and starve to death. Animals that survive have their flesh discolored all through, and even their marrow is reduced to the consistency of blood and w7ater. The men who penetrate such regions are not the kind that would allow toil or privation to break their spirit, but they become so unstrung from days and nights of continuous torment inflicted by enemies insignificant in size but infinite in number, that they become savage, desperate, and sometimes even weep in sheer helpless anger.
In regions so exceptionally cursed with mosquitoes no mere sportsman has any business until win' ter sets in. But even in the more accessible woodlands north and south of us the insect pest is by far the most serious hardship that fishermen and other summer outers are obliged to meet. Head-nets and gauntlets are all very well in their way, but one can neither hunt, fish, paddle, push through the brush, nor even smoke, when so accoutered. Consequently everybody tries some kind or other of " fly-dope," by which elegant name we mean any preparation which, being rubbed over the exposed parts of one's skin, is supposed to discourage insects from repeating their attacks.
The number of such dopes is legion. They may be classified in three groups:
(2) Liquids or semi-fluid unguents that are supposed to protect by their odor alone, and must be renewed several times a day;
(3) Insecticides, which poison the little beasts.
Among the glazes, Nessmuk's recipe, published in his Woodcraft, is perhaps as well known and as widely used as any- He says this about it:
"I have never known it to fail: 3 oz. pine tar, 2 oz. castor oil, 1 oz. pennyroyal oil. Simmer all together over a slow fire, and bottle for use. You will hardy need more than a 2-oz. vial full in a season. One ounce has lasted me six weeks in the woods. Rub it in thoroughly and liberally at first, and after you have established a good glaze, a Kittle replenishing from day to day will be sufficient. And don't fool with soap and towels where insects are plenty. A good safe coat of this varnish grows better the longer it is kept on — and it is cleanly and wholesome. If vou get your face or hands crocky or smutty about the camp-fire, wet the corner of your handkerchief and rub it off, not forgetting to apply the varnish at once wherever you have cleaned it off. Last summer I carried a cake of soap and a towel in my knapsack through the North Woods for a seven weeks' tour, and never used either a single time. When I had established a good glaze on the skin, it was too valuable to be sacrificed for any weak whim connected with soap and water. ... It is a soothing and healing application for poisonous bites already received".