Why did I ever leave the lab?

Today’s adventure in spidering was a trip to SWELL, the Scandia Woods Environmental Learning Lab. It’s a lovely place. I hated it.

There is a lake there. The lake has a thick marshy boundary, and outside that, a path through thick woods leading to a classroom that, in normal times, is used for school children’s field trips. It is lush and damp and overgrown, and you know what that means, boys and girls? In Minnesota? Yes, it means that the actual purpose of this site is to lure in delicate tasty young children so that their blood may feed the Mosquito Gods. If an old guy wanders in, well, all the better — a nice snack.

I had sprayed myself thoroughly with picaridin before we left. For some strange reason, perhaps the possession of arcane foreknowledge, the head of the trail had a mailbox containing a supply of Deep Woods Off. And a hammer. The hammer was a mystery for a short while. As we walked down the trail, the mosquitoes descended upon us. I had hosed myself with so much insect repellant that my skin was layered with a shiny sheen (which is even now drying to a lacey craquelure.) It did me no good. Apparently I was supposed to use the hammer. Part of the problem was that there many spiders, mostly tiny unfortunately, and I was frequently stopping and trying to photograph the things, and that was the signal for a pack of voracious beasts to charge in whining.

Also aggravating: Mary had no problems at all. I guess we know which of us is the succulent, luscious one now! Or was. I’m kind of dessicated after that experience.

OK, I do think I got one decent photo out of that hazardous trip, especially considering how I was being eaten alive while shooting it.


  1. blf says

    The hammer is all that was found of the last expedition into those wilds, which departed this morning.

  2. bsr0 says

    This (unbeknownst to my wife) is why we won’t retire up on Minnesota’s Iron Range in a beautiful lakeside cabin.

    They prefer me and ignore her. In her world there is no issue. In my world I fear for my very survival. When I claim she will find my desiccated corpse some day, she laughs.

    All is good now – we will retire to a stream-side cabin near Estes Park, CO where we have more bears than mosquitoes. I’m good with that. I can scare off bears more easily than blood-sucking insects!

  3. MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says

    Beats the damn vicious yellow jackets that attacked this evening. Little shits like to crawl under clothing and into shoes and hair. Then they get stuck or disturbed/squished just a little by moving around, which pisses them off mightily and they start stinging which makes their buddies start swarming to join the attack. Run, strip, and shower, or it just gets worse.

  4. whheydt says

    When I was young, my family lived in Merced, CA for a couple of years. Of the 35 species of mosquitoes in California, 28 of them live in Merced County. If I have to live with Mosquitoes, I’d like them to be manufactured by deHaviland, thank you.

  5. jimzy says

    Next time wear one of those suits used by those-in-the-know who go poking around Asian giant hornet nests.

  6. daved says

    that was the signal for a pack of voracious beasts to charge in whining

    You were attacked by a pack of Republicans?

  7. Artor says

    The Oregon Country Fair would be going on right now if it hadn’t been cancelled. It takes place in a swampy forest along side a slow, stagnant river. The mosquitos there are so thick everyone walking the path has a second shadow that follows them everywhere until they stop moving, at which point it catches up and settles on them with a loud sucking sound, as 100K mosquitos start slurping all at once. Fortunately, once the public arrives, the mosquito-to-human ratio shifts dramatically, and it’s not nearly so bad, but a lot of people go home from the fair with lumpy polka-dotted skin.

  8. says

    Yeah, I’ve been to the Oregon Country Fair. The effect is particularly stunning because so many of the participants are in varying degrees of naked.

  9. charley says

    @8 jkrideau
    I discovered the relentless Ontario black flies while bicycling around L. Superior with a friend decades ago. Our only escapes were to keep pedaling or jump in the tent.

  10. jrkrideau says

    @ 13 charley
    keep pedaling or jump in the tent.
    Come to think of it, @ 20 km/h I have not been bothered by them cycling just out of Thunder Bay.

    I knew a couple of prospectors in Northern Ontario who were dropped off at a lake and spent the next three days hiding in their tent until the plane came back. And they had grown up around there.

  11. jimzy says

    @13 charley – I was hiking the Little Big Horns in Wyoming in the 70s. Will moving, nothing. Stop for a few minutes (if you would tolerate it) and you would have 10s maybe 100s of black flies on you. Spilled some sugar on a rock in camp. Came back after an outing and the ‘black’ rock turned white as the flies fled.