PAT NEAL: The bug season forecast

THANK YOU FOR reading this.

It is our fondest hope that you will continue to rely on this column to keep you informed and up to date on a never-ending list of new things to worry about.

Far be it from me to spread fear, innuendo and rumors just to fill valuable print space.

Yet it is felt that there is an obligation to inform, educate and warn our readers of a serious problem sleeping beneath the blanket of snow that we have been so generously blessed with lately.

While it is true the unseasonably cold weather has been responsible for a perfect storm of human suffering with stuck vehicles, frozen pipes and power outages, the one thing you can say about these arctic conditions is there are no mosquitos.

The fact is that the brutal winter weather has delayed the opening day of bug season by at least a month or more.

Still, the bugs are there resting just below the surface of the frost, waiting to threaten the health, safety and well-being of our families and loved ones engaged in the wholesome enjoyment of the outdoors.

The warning signs are everywhere every time the thermometer creeps above that magic number of 50 degrees or so.

The first mosquito of the year showed up shortly after the New Year during an unseasonable warm spell that had a few of the locals croaking about an early spring.

That didn’t happen.

Still the warning signs were there when the second mosquito of the year showed up.

It was twice the size of the first one.

If this disturbing growth trend continues, our Olympic Peninsula mosquitos could be the size of hummingbirds by this summer.

Curiously, the arrival of the first mosquitos is closely followed by that other seasonal pest, the first tourists of the year.

These individuals can be easily identified by their shiny rental cars, fat wallets and endless questions, the most popular of which seems to be, “If we go into the forest will we be attacked by cougars?”

As ambassadors of the tourist industry it is up to each and every one of us to allay the groundless apprehensions of the city folks and assure them that our cougars are harmless and well behaved.

It is the mosquitos that will eat you alive.

The Olympic Peninsula is after all the place where, according to Native American legend, the mosquitos were created in the first place.

That was a long time ago, before the coming of the “Hokwat,” or what the Native Americans called the “Drifting House People,” the Europeans.

This place may not have been a paradise on Earth, but in the old days there were no mosquitos so it would have been pretty nice.

Still, it was not an entirely perfect world.

Giant cannibal ogres stalked the land. There was one said to live in the mountains above Blyn and another out on the Hoh River.

These were female ogres with an appetite for small children.

The Hoh people were getting fed up with having their kids swiped so one day a war party attacked the giantess, killed her and burned her body.

One of the warriors said they should bury the body but before they could a wind came up and scattered the ashes, which were miraculously transformed into the first mosquitos.

This allowed the ogress to eat humans even in death.

So, don’t worry about the cougars. It’s the mosquitos that will get you.

Curse the snow, wind and frost if you will but just be thankful for one thing. There are no mosquitos.

_________

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal wildlife@gmail.com.

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