“Anywhere not in direct sunlight, you’re gonna’ get eaten alive,” fisherman Arnold Jenkins said as he cast his line into a Spring Lake bayou.
Jenkins said he was driven out of his fishing spot by large groups of thirsty mosquitoes underneath a bridge. He said he noticed last week — both at his prime fishing locations and at home — that the mosquito problem was getting bad.
Howard Russell, a Michigan State University entomologist, said the first “big hatch” of spring mosquitoes happened this past weekend. He said a lot of rain and snow — such as we had this past winter — provides more water for mosquitoes to hatch more eggs.
“They’re everywhere — clouds of them,” Russell said.
Michigan’s mosquitoes come in two waves: spring and summer. The eggs of spring mosquitoes hatch once, wreak havoc on campers and tanners, then go away until next year. Summer mosquitoes depend on continued rain to reproduce.
With the big hatch of mosquitoes last week, we can expect the pesky critters to stick around a bit longer, Russell said.
Bob Sluis recently walked into the critter aisle of Ace Hardware in Spring Lake with a look of determination. He was looking for a mosquito-stinging bulb to ward off pests for himself and his business.
“I run a small day care and the kids come in with welts,” Sluis said.
Store employee Geoff Dean said they went through a ton of bug spray last year, and they’re preparing for the same this summer. He said they’re stocking the store’s shelves in anticipation for a buggy summer.
Another blood-sucking critter is also causing commotion in Michigan. Russell said he’s been busy taking calls about the number of ticks popping up in and around urban areas like Lansing and Detroit.
Russell said ticks are fairly new to the Lower Peninsula and, up until now, “we’ve just been lucky” with the annoying bugs.
Deer ticks are not impacted by snowy winters like mosquitoes. With its long, gangly legs, the deer tick is commonly found in coastal towns like Grand Haven.
Black-legged ticks are becoming more common in the state, according to Russell, and are known to cause the debilitating Lyme disease.
The Ottawa County Department of Public Health’s website offers useful information about communicable diseases, such as Lyme and the West Nile virus, as well as information about ticks.
"Reducing exposure to ticks is the best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections,” department spokeswoman Kristina Wieghmink said.