I’d like to start with a frank conversation about vampires. Vampires come from ancient folklore, but they’ve been a staple of pop culture for almost two centuries. You know the trope. Tall, Transylvanian type. Fangs. Allergic to sunlight. They used to be stuck-up and creepy; now they’re moody and hot. But whether you’re dealing with trendy vampires or old school Draculas, they still want to suck your blood.
For some reason vampire stories never seem to be set in Northern Minnesota. I think I know why. We’ve already got mosquitos. We don’t need a legendary blood sucking menace, we’ve got two or three billion of them flying around all summer long.
For that matter mosquitos eliminate the need for zombie movies, too. The other day I was microwaving some butter. I heat it up for a minute and when I open the microwave out flies a mosquito. I’m thinking about this and then the mosquito flies back in. I decide, I’m going to microwave it. This isn’t right, but I have to test this.
Sure enough, the mosquito survives and flies back out. I’ve heard of insects being able to sense the location of the microwave radiation beams in these things, but it’s still a little unnerving. The dead should remain dead.
You need to know a few things about mosquitos. The first is that they are born as water insects. That’s why the Land of 10,000 Lakes makes such an inviting home for them. Much like Godzilla, we wouldn’t have a problem if they just stayed in the water. But like Godzilla we know this will end with people screaming and running while waving their arms around.
Once mosquitos mature and emerge from the water, they still don’t pose a threat. In fact, mosquitos consume nectar the same as many other non-infuriating insects.
So, if they don’t need blood to live, why do they bite us?
Female mosquitos need protein from blood to make eggs. In other words, if you get poked by a mosquito it’s almost certainly a lady mosquito on the prowl.
It doesn’t matter what species you are. Love hurts.
When you get down to it, mosquitos are evolutionary marvels. They hunt based on your breath and heat. Which means that the only foolproof way to avoid mosquitos is to be dead.
Mosquitos distinguish blood types from outside your body, kind of like reading the menu on the outside of a drive-thru restaurant. They happen to prefer Type O blood to Type A.
They like people with lots of body heat. Pregnant ladies and Big and Tall shoppers suffer acutely.
A March 19 story from the BBC indicates another mosquito trait. They’re more attracted to the blood of people who have been drinking than the blood of those who are sober. The same story suggests that mosquito alcohol tolerance is extremely high.
So, to reiterate, we have randy female mosquitos who can drink their male counterparts under the table. They’re a fun date, but an expensive date. A lot of marriages start this way. A lot of marriages end this way.
If you happen to be a criminal you have additional reasons to be wary of mosquitos. In a small town in rural Finland, police recovered a stolen car. There was no sign of the thieves, but they did find a mosquito with a full belly. That recently-sated mosquito provided the DNA evidence that helped catch a member of the gang.
Thus, in 2019, we must be concerned not only with Facebook gathering our private data, but with mosquitos gathering our private DNA.
So welcome to Northern Minnesota. We don’t have any vampires or zombies. But, thanks to mosquitos, we still generate a lot of buzz. You can survive it. Just remember to lose weight, breath less and be careful putting on smooth jazz in the presence of lady mosquitos.
Aaron J. Brown is an author and community college instructor from Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio (KAXE.org).