Saturday, July 09, 2011

What Bugs Bite on Cape Cod?

Above, a photo of beautiful Uncle Tim’s Bridge at low tide, late afternoon. Probably lots of bugs around. I check the stat counter once a day, and a topic that has drawn new readers to this blog since the beginning of summer is "Cape Cod bugs." Here’s an update on what’s biting.

Mosquitoes: The Outer Cape is having a particularly bad year for mosquitoes with all the rain that fell during the spring. Big ones, small ones, they seem to all wait at the front door to access the house once the door is opened. Dusk must be a favorite feeding time because the mosquitoes seem more prevalent the. These pests hang out in shade although I have also been attacked in the sunshine, which is quite unusual. I'm a mosquito magnet. Sven isn't. Some people are, like a guest from Germany who left yesterday covered with red splotches. As far as I know, the mosquitoes here do not carry West Nile. See Ticks, below, for suggestions on products to repel mosquitoes.

Gnats: Lots of pesky little gnats about this year, too. Gnats bite Sven, not me. “They are horribly irritating,” he says, “And, there are going to be more of them later on.”

Flies: Sven says there were awesome green flies in the Swedish forest where he worked as a teenager, green flies that took "bites of flesh." I have heard reports of a few sand flies at Duck Harbor, but they do not pack such a wallop.

Wasps, hornets, bees: They exist, of course. Best to steer clear.

Deer ticks: Ticks remain a problem that must be taken very seriously. I warn all our guests to be wary of ticks climbing onto any object left on the ground for a period of time, like a tote or a purse, as well as to do a nightly tick check of the body. Ticks often carry Lyme disease, so it is best to use tick-repellant. I choose Organic Bite Blocker Xtreme, which can be ordered online. Some people dislike the scent but I prefer it to DEET, which can be absorbed through skin into the bloodstream and can cause brain damage. I had Lyme five years ago and wish it on no one. I experienced flu-like symptoms and a total loss of energy for months. Lyme is hard to diagnose. The doctors say a tick must be on you for 24 to 36 hours before transmitting the disease. The spirochette is in its gut and gets regurgitated, supposedly, when the deer tick disengages. I’m not buying. Best to prevent ticks in the first place. Once you are bitten, a bull's eye rash may show up, but not always. If you have a test for Lyme disease, do not get the test for a month after the bite, because it be negative. Doctors usually give three weeks of Doxycycline if they think there's a chance a patient might have Lyme. I was also treated with the herb Cat's Claw.

Cape Codders, did I forget any bugs seasonal guests should know about?