AEDES ALBOPICTUS … An article in the recent issue of Science News caught my attention, “In the Eye of the Tiger.” It was about the global advance of the Asian tiger mosquito (A. albopictus) that health experts were concerned could spread tropical diseases into temperate regions. Journalist Carrie Arnold characterized the invading pest as “an aggressive hit-and-run biter” that feeds on everything – humans, dogs, livestock, birds, etc. – and attacks during the middle of the day, not just at dusk. It’s well established in the Southeast, with just three sightings (unconfirmed) in Colorado, according to the article’s accompanying map … What got me all worked up – reading about how a 2007 outbreak of chikungunya virus in Italy alerted disease experts to its potential danger of this new invasive species of mosquito in transmitting all manner of tropical scourges, including dengue fever, West Nile, yellow fever and several forms of encephalitis – was that I’d just seen a striped mosquito on my forearm while working in the Cloud Acre spud patch several weeks earlier. Its markings were different than any mosquito I’d seen before, and I took a moment’s notice, before squishing the bug prior to its biting me … Now I was realizing I might have seen this new mosquito, and I figured I should tell someone. An Internet search led me to Dr. Chester G. Moore of Colorado State University, an expert in medical entomology, who’d been keeping a database of possible A. albopictus sightings, and I explained my experience. He wrote me back immediately, and was very keen to obtain a specimen – suggesting the following possibility for capture … “A technique that usually works pretty well is to use a small jar (like one used for spices) to cover the mosquito when it comes to bite. Usually it will fly upward into the jar and you can put the lid on to trap it. An hour or two in the freezer will kill it and you will have a good specimen for identification. Once the mosquitoes are dead, we usually place them in a small box between multiple layers of Kleenex or toilet paper to protect them from moving. These boxes can be mailed to our lab at CSU” … Of course, not all of us would have the presence of mind to employ an entomologist’s methodology when a mosquito is attacking. So, Dr. Moore also suggests, “As an alternative, if you have a smart phone with a good camera, it may be possible to take a picture of the mosquitoes. You can send me the photo as an email attachment, and I may be able to identify it that way” … If you happen to notice a suspiciously striped mosquito, feel free to contact me, and send a photo, if you can get one. And I can alert Dr. Moore. There are many good identification photos of the Asian tiger mosquito online, if you want to get an idea of what it looks like … One behavior that facilitates the spread of this new insect is its ability to breed in small puddles of water in old tires. Unhappily, I’ve been using old tires at Cloud Acre as weed barriers and support structures for new tree plantings – a reuse practice I plan to discontinue … So, if you have old tires around your place, you might particularly keep an eye out for the Asian tiger mosquito.
FIFTH OF JULY … Lots of flag-waving on the Fourth, as well there should be for any citizens of the American republic – a nation conceived in liberty, but where we the people are still struggling to match facts with the dream. Whatever dream that might be – gay, under God, atheist, gun-lover, gun-hater, etc … For me, I unroll my dad’s flag (Vincenzo Bontempi) that he’d fly every day outside his California home and let it wave in the wind outside my Cloud Acre residence on the Fifth of July – to remind myself that patriotism isn’t a once-a-year thing. That the flag waves every day, whether we notice it or not. That we should be patriots every day, whether our government is spying on us or not. And we should honor those patriotic Americans willing to risk everything to get our federal government’s uncomfortable truths out, whether those currently in power like it or not.
SIGN OF THE TIMES … While not usually a billboard fan, I couldn’t help but smile, passing through the Wasatch Front outside Springerville near Salt Lake City this May, when one of those pestiferous house-size ads shouted out, as I raced past on the freeway: “So excited by spring, we wet our plants.”
TONSILLECTOMY … I had mine out as a youngster. Everyone promises ice cream, but your throat feels so bad and your stomach’s a little queasy, you don’t eat much, really. Cool liquids feel the best … My son Gregorio got his removed recently. It only took a half-hour or so. Plus a couple hours to come back from anaesthesia at the Surgery Center. He walked out to the car on his own, and we left Grand Junction and came home. Where he stayed, recuperating … Surgery takes it out of you, and they recommend a couple weeks of taking it easy. Which is what you expect teenagers to do starting summer vacation anyway. Sleeping a lot. Watching videos … Between the prescription drugs and a new Xbox, he’s made the best of it.
THE TALKING GOURD
Okay, if I have to miss
family hugs. Singalongs. Free
meals. Raw foods. Midnight tea
& 10,000 long-haired Americans
in a circle holding hands & omming
for peace on the 4th of July
at least I can get naked
at Cloud Acre & do my patriotic
homeland chores in my birthday suit
humming along with the potatoes