Steve Eighinger

It's a good time to stay indoors

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 20, 2019 10:10 pm

I'll be honest, this is more or less an unplanned sequel to Tuesday's column about the downfalls of the warm-weather months.

Specifically, the bugs.

I was thinking after I had written that piece that in the 20-plus years I've called Quincy home I had encountered no more than a half-dozen mosquito or other insect-related bites.

Until this year.

Now, I don't even want to go outside. I even dread just exiting my car.

"That's so weird," said my wife, Kathy, who hates bug bites even more than I do, if that's possible. "The bugs never seem to bother you -- until this year."

Many times we've both laughed about how the mosquitoes and other winged warriors will swarm to her and pay absolutely no attention to me.

Until this year.

But those hyperactive, dastardly buffalo gnats -- a.k.a. "black flies," according to health officials -- are everywhere.

These days, there seems to be a million of them ready to swarm at you, no matter the location or time of day.

And they bite.

And they suck your blood.

And each of those bites is guaranteed to swell, similar to an attack by a mosquito.

And they itch.

And when you scratch, the "bump" tends to enlarge.

And then itch even more.

It's been a vicious cycle in recent weeks.

Just the other day I read it's only the female buffalo gnats who do the biting. I'll just leave that information alone and let you come to any conclusion you feel is appropriate.

Consider this, from the Illinois Department of Public Health:

"Like horse and deer flies, black flies (buffalo gnats) bite by using their mouthparts like scissors to cut into skin and lap up the blood."

Well, isn't that appealing?

More from the IDPH:

"This results in painful bites that can produce bleeding, itching, inflammation and swelling, as well as allergic reactions that can be life-threatening. The flies may enter noses, ears and mouths, causing further discomfort."

Well, that pretty much confirms I'm not going outside again until December.

I also read that buffalo gnats are usually found around water. Well, there's certainly been enough of that around here with the recent flooding and ensuing rains.

And here's a fact I would never have guessed -- adult buffalo gnats will fly 10 miles or more in search of blood, though they are most commonly encountered close to various water sources where they develop.

These awful creatures are attracted to the carbon dioxide exhaled by humans and animals, and also to "perspiration, fragrances and dark, moving objects."

So, in a nutshell, to avoid these tiny winged devils your best bet is to simply stay indoors -- and keep the windows shut. But if that's not possible, wear a lot of clothing (yes, in 90-degree heat and humidity), do not sweat and move very slow.

I think I'll go with option "A" and spend my summer inside watching baseball and reruns of NCIS.

As I said earlier, see ya in December.