Oct 1, 2009 at 10:52 pm #1239831
This year seemed to be particularly bad in terms of mosquitoes in the Sierras. I ended up cutting a few trips short due to insane mosquito action, which is a big bummer. Deet kept them off the skin, but having constant clouds of mosquitoes from dawn til dusk, and spending 0% of my time swimming and 95% of my time hiding in the tent, really harshed my mellow.
In 2007 and 2008, the mosquitoes during the same time of year in similar locations I like to hike (Emigrant Wilderness, Tahoe area, Yosemite, Dinkey Lakes) were not bad at all; aside from the typical dawn & dusk attack, and getting eaten alive when filtering water at boggy streams and the like, they were quite manageable.
Did anybody else notice a particularly nasty mosquito season this year? I wonder if there are any reliable indicators — it seemed like quite a dry summer, so I was surprised.
-JeffOct 1, 2009 at 11:39 pm #1532356
My season didn't start until July 23rd but I didn't have any mosquito problems what so ever. Sure there were a few, but I slept out pretty much the entire summer and didn't put on any DEET. Man, I'm happy about that!Oct 2, 2009 at 3:52 am #1532380
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Yes, and you can expect it to get worse.
There has been a massive death toll among small bats in America due to 'white-nose fungus'. We don't have a clue what is causing this, and the funding for R&D into the problem is almost non-existent.
How is this relevant? Well, a typical small nocturnal bat will eat its body weight of mosquitoes and midges each night. But with bat populations decimated in some areas of America …
PS: Bats also act as a major pollinator of some commercial crops. Combine that with the wave of 'bee-hive collapse' disease sweeping America right now …Oct 2, 2009 at 7:45 am #1532404
Greg MihalikBPL Member
I believe 'White Nose' is only in the east, so far. However, specific to California –
"Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, approximately 80 percent of the country's bat population has been lost. Some of the main reasons are habitat destruction and vandalism by ignorant humans. Because bats have long been feared as a source of danger and disease, people often think little about destroying their colonies when they are discovered. An even larger threat to bats has been the swelling use of pesticides in commercial agriculture. Bats feed primarily on insects, which have often been exposed to pesticides. Pesticides then build up in the tissues of the bat, and they sicken and die."
On my early July JMT trip some days were horrific and some days were wonderful. And that is the story I heard from others as well. It depends on so many things…Oct 2, 2009 at 8:32 am #1532420
Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Hmmm… this summer I found mosquitoes less of a problem in the sierras than I have in the last few years. The difference might have been I was farther south and mostly on the eastern side. The furthest north I got was McCabe Lakes in Yosemite. Or maybe I just got lucky.
–MarkOct 2, 2009 at 9:04 am #1532429
I think it is definitely a geographical and seasonal phenomena. No rhyme no reason.. Young's lake in Yosemite in June hardly no mosquitoes,July TRT- east side: dry no- mosquitoes,TRT-west side:just a few hear and there. Green lake, Eastern Sierras-July: SWARMING not fun at all!!! Humphrey's Basin-August:Lots of Mosquitoes I applied DEET alot!!!You would think that since we've been in 3 years of drought that the Mosquitoes would be under stress–Less snow pack equals less mosquitoes-Right???
I am sad to hear about the Bats!!Oct 2, 2009 at 9:18 am #1532435
Jay, that's interesting. I was in Humphrey's Basin in the middle of August and had no mosquito problems at all.Oct 2, 2009 at 9:33 am #1532444
Rick DreherBPL Member
@halfturboLocale: Northernish California
I had one over-the-top bad trip in July, camped at a lake in the Tahoe region that features hungry clouds day and night. This was compounded by the heat–at night it was shorts-tshirt weather but I had to dress from head to toe, including gloves, to try and fend them off. It's weird to be sweating bullets at ten o'clock camped above seven thousand feet, yet I resorted to standing in a plume of campfire smoke until bedtime.
This was the worst I've experienced in the Sierra. I switched lakes the next night and at least when the sun was up huge squadrons of small dragonflies (darning needles) kept them at bay. At dusk, however, they retired for the night and the skeets were back in force.
We had an unusually wet, cool June which I suspect was the prime cause of this phenomenon (I've had a lot of conversations with hikers with similar experiences this year). The benefit was some of the best wildflower displays I've seen in places not renowned for them. The rest of the season I was lucky and didn't repeat my July experience.
Ironically, over four days in June at Lassen I didn't see a single mosquito.
RickOct 2, 2009 at 9:40 am #1532450
.Oct 2, 2009 at 9:56 am #1532455
Hey Jack, I came in from Pine Creek Th and the skeeters at Honeymoon lake were very bad and even worse at Elba Lake–thats why I said geographical locations are different..No rhyme no reason..Where did you come in from?Oct 2, 2009 at 10:00 am #1532457
Wow, thanks for all your trail anecdotes! It sounds like it's really just luck of the draw, but one thing I've learned is to have a backup plan in case you get mosquitoed out. Maybe I'm a softie, but when there are clouds of mosquitoes everywhere and you can't swim because you'll get eaten alive when you get out and I'm running low on deet … time to pack out.
I'm starting to enjoy September / October / November trips more and more now because less mosquitoes, though unfortunately that's prime yellow jacket season and I'm allergic. I'd take cold to bugs any day.
My trips for the season were as follows — with mosquito notes. :)
June 21 2009 Warren Lake. Tons of melting snowfields, very few mosquitoes (??). Trip report
July 5 2009 Dinkey Lakes 3 Sisters loop. Horrible clouds of mosquitoes everywhere, even at 10,000 foot super windy ridges. Never seen it so bad. Trip report
July 21 2009 Emigrant Wilderness: Bell Meadow & Piute Lake. Almost as bad as Dinkey Lakes. Mosquitoes cut our trip short (so we drove to Mono Lake, June Lake, and did some wine tasting in Murphys on the way home!) Trip report
August 14th 2009 Saddlebag Lake to Lower McCabe Lake. Mosquitoes were not an issue at all. Mark seems to have the same experience.
September 23 2009 Cherry Lake to Lord Meadows & down Cherry Creek Canyon. No mosquitoes! But tons and skads of these small little flys that look like fruit flys, are attracted to humans like mosquitoes except don't bite, hang out in shaded woody / damp areas, and constantly fly in your face / mouth / eyes / ears. Mosquito headnet required to preserve sanity. What are these things? The 3 times I've done Cherry Creek Canyon, these things are always waiting at Cherry Lake (but not always so bad in the backcountry).
On the plus side: NO BEARS!
-JeffOct 2, 2009 at 10:02 am #1532458
Jim MacDiarmidBPL Member
I was in Desolation Wilderness the same weekend just south of Rick last June, and the skeeters were awful. I woke up at 5am to a cloud buzzing around the bug net of my Tigoat bivy.
But then doing a High Sierra Camps loop the 2nd weekend in August, and not a one.
There was all that late season rain that couldn't have helped.Oct 2, 2009 at 3:34 pm #1532530
"Hey Jack, I came in from Pine Creek Th and the skeeters at Honeymoon lake were very bad and even worse at Elba Lake"
Jay, Are you referring to the Honeymoon Lake up above the south side of Paiute Creek? If so, that'd be really weird. I was up there in August, 2008, and nary a bug in sight. Then again, conditions do vary a lot from year ro year.Oct 2, 2009 at 3:39 pm #1532532
"Did anybody else notice a particularly nasty mosquito season this year?"
I think it varies by location and time of year. I was in Darwin Canyon in late July and there were hardly any bugs, ditto for Kaweah Basin, Kern-Kaweah Valley, and the Upper Kern in early September. Lots of water in all those areas, too. What time of year and where did your trips take place?Oct 2, 2009 at 5:12 pm #1532550
Hey Tom, I was at Honeymoon Lake in early Aug.-2009..They were not swarming but they did make there presence known at midday..I definitely deeded DEET…Two years ago I was in Lyell Canyon(Late July)and expected the worse but hardly no skeeters at all…But at Marie Lakes at Donohue Pass(11,050ft) they were Swarming…Go Figure! Seasonal, Geographical, Elevation???? It is not a exact science for sure…Oct 2, 2009 at 8:01 pm #1532577
I guess I was hoping it to be more of an exact science, but it sounds like there's not really any tried & true indicators. I guess the best I can do is always pack deet and my mosquito headnet, and have alternate plans if they're too thick.
Or just go backpacking in late October with my snow gear.
-JeffOct 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm #1532580
Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
> I guess I was hoping it to be more of an exact science, but
> it sounds like there's not really any tried & true indicators.
To make matters worse previous performance is not guarantee of future returns. There have been several times in the last few years were someone reported mosquito activity level, and the activity level changed by the time I got to the site.
My solution is to always carry my headnet and a small vial of DEET. 2oz is well worth the pleasure of keeping the bloodsuckers at bay. I wear clothing that is tight woven or treated with Permethrin, and now carry a shelter that is 4oz heavier that gives me a large bug free space rather than the space provided by a A16 bug bivy. So far the bugs haven't cased me off though there have been some days that we pretty warm and I really wished I could have been in shorts and a ss shirt. Ok well.
The one thing that has been consistent in my experience is that the mosquitoes around Tahoe seemed worse than those around Yosemite and Kings. Don't know why. Maybe just bad luck.
–MarkOct 2, 2009 at 9:11 pm #1532589
Denis HazlewoodBPL Member
@redleaderLocale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
I agree, there seemed to be fewer mosquitoes in the Sierra this year due, in part, to the drier than usual conditions.
Had a few at Bear Lake (Emigrant Wilderness) in late July, when we had to camp just beyond the swampy area due to crowded conditions.
The rest of the trips (6 in all) I don't recall using Deet at all. Just finished a week in Emigrant and only had one mosquito, one night, in Spring Meadow.
Maybe they were all following Jeff. If so, thanks for taking one for the team, Jeff.Oct 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm #1532714
Pshhh… you folks in the US have it good… believe me.
Try out around Yellowknife, NWT, Canada at peak season. You'll be scarred for life.Oct 3, 2009 at 2:19 pm #1532718
"Seasonal, Geographical, Elevation???? It is not a exact science for sure…"
That's pretty much my take as well, Jay, although I tend to associate skeeters with standing water and boggy areas just about any place up to the first good freeze.
Ain't Honeymoon Lake a little gem? I can see how it got its name. ;}Oct 3, 2009 at 6:55 pm #1532770
"Pshhh… you folks in the US have it good… believe me.
Try out around Yellowknife, NWT, Canada at peak season. You'll be scarred for life."
I'm not so sure that's true. I've met multiple Alaskans who were amazed by some swarms of sierran mosquitos. Sure, it's not awful as often, but when it is, it's bad. I've had clouds of mosquitos swarm so densely that I'm pretty sure there couldn't be more flying in the same space. They'd be crashing in to each other too much.
That leads to some interesting questions. Anyone know which species of mosquitos are the most obnoxious in the Sierra? Are the Northwest Territory mosquitoes worse species? Anyone able to quickly ID West Nile mosquitos? For beautiful paintings of Sierran mosquitoes I highly recommend The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada.Oct 3, 2009 at 9:22 pm #1532798
Jeff PatrickBPL Member
I'd love to have a pet bat come camp with me and eat up all the skeets. They're UL right? Plus, no chemicals
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