This has been a strange summer in many ways.
One way is the weather.
Memorial Day was earlier than usual, and Labor Day is as late as possible, meaning summer was longer than normal.
Somehow it didn’t seem that way, probably because it was a cooler than normal summer.
Sure, there were a few hot days, but on the whole it was a comfortable year.
Another phenomenon this year has been the bugs.
Thanks to some spraying in Blue Earth, the mosquito population seems to have been kept at bay.
Despite what some have termed a “wet summer,” I have to honestly say that I have hardly swatted a ‘skeeter’ all season.
But that doesn’t mean some other bugs haven’t stepped in to take over the pest-of-the-year title.
First, there was a two week period early in the summer when legions of gnats seemed bent on biting every exposed piece of skin they could find. It was difficult to do anything outside without spending every second swatting the little buggers.
Next came the ants. Suddenly yards in the area were filled with massive mounds of ant hills. Some were so large – and soft – that I feared falling in up to my knees.
Heavy duty insecticide spraying seemed to halt the problem – or at least made them move to a new locale.
Next was the invasion of a horde of ugly little bugs which skittered around the sink in our house – and everywhere else, it seemed.
A quick search on the internet and we determined the critters were called “earwigs.”
I think I had heard the term earwig in the past, but I really had no idea what it was.
Now I do.
The varmints have become persona non grata at our house, and they are whomped and flushed (burial at sea) in a heartbeat.
This summer has also seen the return of fireflies in droves.
I remember a number of years ago when fireflies were prevalent everywhere one would go. Then they died out and were only seen in small numbers for a few years, or so it seemed.
This year they have been thick, giving an added ‘spark’ to being outdoors in the evenings.
Later in the summer I had a couple of sightings of some of the largest bugs I have ever seen in Minnesota.
One was in Wells, while I was interviewing Kernel Days Grand Marshal Mary Majeski in her garden.
There was a monstrous bug which looked as though it could have tried out for the lead part in a Hollywood horror film.
Neither of us had ever seen anything in the insect world that big and ugly.
It looked like a beetle of some type, with a mouth capable of taking out a chunk of flesh.
Another bug recently spotted was also huge and unpleasant looking. Both times a search on Google failed to locate the name of the insects in question.
Somewhat like a grasshopper without wings, it had an ugly face and a huge stinger-like appendage on it’s rear.
It looked menacing without even making a move. Needless to say, it’s life-span was measured in seconds after having been spotted.
My only thought was that it was a monster-size version of the earwig. If they are growing that large, it is time to call the Orkin man.
Next up on the parade of strange insects was a phenomenon seen a couple of weekends ago.
Swarms of what appeared to be flying ants began slowly ascending out of the ground and floating up to the trees in yards in Blue Earth.
Back to the computer one more time to look up info, and sure enough – it was a flock of flying ants.
During wet summers the flyers hatch, and drone ants push them up and out of the nests in the ground, forcing them out. Really.
The flying ants are all males and float up to mate with the queen ants – and then they die.
Sounds a bit harsh to me.
The last bug sighting happened just this past week.
Our yard seems to have been invaded with dozens of tiny white moths, which float up in the evening when a person walks across the lawn.
Not quite as ugly – or scary – as some of the other varmints that have invaded this past summer. But even the scary ones are more welcome than the dreaded mosquito.
And in another month or two none of these bugs are going to be around anymore, anyway.
This is, after all, Minnesota.