Posts Tagged ‘no-see-ums’

The Bane Of My Existence

How can something so tiny cause so much trouble?

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This is a picture of midges on my windowsill, after they’ve flown through my mesh screen.  As you can see in comparison to my finger (yes, I bite my nails), they are smaller than a fleck of ground pepper, and usually not visible at all.

This has been the worst tick season ever.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, last night began Midge Season.  Midges, otherwise known as no-see-ums (or “chiggers” in the South USA), are teeny tiny flying insects.  They are so small that they wait for nighttime, and they fly right through the mesh on one’s window screens.  You might be reading in bed when suddenly, your legs are on fire, and the itching will drive you insane.  You look around, but don’t see a thing.  They may be called “no-see-ums,” but they should be called “I-feel-ums.”  Standard bug repellent does not work against these pernicious fiends.  And you cannot swat what you cannot see.  It seems I have an extra sensitivity:  not only do they like me better than anyone in the household, but I feel the effects of a single bite for about 3 or 4 weeks afterwards.  One year they got so bad I simply had to leave, and I drove back to my hometown as fast as my car would take me.  I hope that won’t be the case this year, but it’s looking ominous.

In Maine, bug season is not for wimps.

Yep.  I’m a wimp.

 

 

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Lapham Ledge

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A pink lady’s slipper along the trail. These wild orchids are protected flowers in Maine.

In the midst of a heat wave of 90 degrees (but thankfully, not humid!), we decided to go on an easy 2-part hike, knowing that if the heat became too strong we could easily turn around or just do one of the parts.  One thing we have learned, is that we are not in a competition.  Hiking for us is more about fun than physical prowess or putting ourselves under pressure to be superjocks.

We decided to hike Bucks Ledge and Lapham Ledge, a hike so easy a two-year-old could do it.  These two ledges offer magnificent views of western Maine mountains, rivers and lakes.  Almost immediately, however, we knew we were in trouble.  Much of the hike offered little protection from the unrelenting sun.  There were also plenty of mosquitoes who made mockery of our bug repellant.

The good news is that when we made it to the top of Lapham Ledge, there was a nice breeze.  It was still plenty hot, but the breeze made it tolerable and the bugs were at a minimum since they prefer still air.  The views of Bryant Pond were lovely, too.

The view from Lapham Ledge to Bryant Pond

The view from Lapham Ledge to Bryant Pond

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That said, it was hard to gather the momentum needed to continue further up the trail to Buck’s Ledge, so we decided to quit while we were ahead.

Upon our return we awaited the predicted severe afternoon thunderstorm, and severe it was!   It only lasted 15 minutes, but the trees were nearly bent double by the force of the wind and torrential rain that followed.  In fifteen minutes, the temperature dropped 15 degrees, from 90 degrees down to 75!  Thankfully it meant that it would be nice and cool by bedtime.

Fortunately, thanks to the super-insulation of our house, really hot days have been manageable, which is fortunate considering we don’t have air conditioning.  Usually there is a 15- to 20- degree difference between interior and exterior temperatures.  Twice since our move to Maine the temperatures have hit over 100 degrees, but our house was never hotter than 85 degrees.  The biggest difference is that days with high humidity are rare, and heat waves only last 2 or 3 days at most, unlike my hometown where a heat wave lasts the entire summer amidst humidity that makes everyone’s minds go to mush.

That said, there is a major downside to Maine that is seemingly inescapable:  bugs!  We have blackfly season, deerfly season, mosquito season, ladybug season, cluster fly season, and, for me, the most terrible of all:  midge season.  Midges are also referred to as “no-see-ums” with good reason.  They are so tiny they are mostly invisible.  They fly right through screened windows and attack mercilessly, leaving bites that leave you insanely itchy and scratchy for weeks.  For the past two years they were so bad that we simply couldn’t take it anymore, and we left Maine for our hometown, hoping for some respite.   Fortunately by the end of July most of Maine’s  biting insects are gone until the following Spring, with August, September and early October among the most enjoyable months to visit Maine if you are “from away.”