We’re gonna peel back the curtain a bit here at TheSmokies.com. In fact, we will let you see just a little of how the sausage gets made.
Story assignments come down the pike, things we think you good people might be searching the world wide interwebs and want to know.
Sometimes the answers require some research, a bit of crafting or organizing. What’s the best hike to see a waterfall? How did Gatlinburg get its name? Are there wild feral people hiding in the mountains?
Other times, we use the topic as a jumping off point. Indeed, a conversation starter. It’s a way for me to meander through thoughts, feelings and anecdotes I’ve built up living all these years in and around the mountains.
Such is the case today.
Does Tennessee have mosquitoes?
Look, if all you want to know is whether or not there are mosquito populations in Tennessee, we can solve that right quickly and be on our way.
Heck yeah, there are mosquitoes in Tennessee. I dislike the little bloodsuckers with the heat of 1,000 suns.
I’d punch a mosquito in the face and then brag about it to its family. I will suffer the indignity of multiple mosquito bites for the chance to rid the world of one tiny piece of the world’s mosquito population.
When I leave this world, if I go to heaven, I am going to go right up to God the Almighty and we are going to have a discussion about why in the world He gave us mosquitoes.
Mysterious ways? I’ve spent the better part of my adult life wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts during outdoor activities in the SUMMER because it’s right in the middle of Tennessee’s 9-month long mosquito season.
In fact, couldn’t Noah have done us all a solid and squished those last two buggers before they had a chance to lay eggs in all the standing water? There had to be a lot of water around the ark during the 40 days of heavy rain.
What state does not have mosquitoes?
There are only two places on the face of this Earth that don’t have some form of mosquitoes. That would be Antarctica and Iceland.
I swear it’s almost worth enduring the bitter cold to avoid the bug bites.
The only other place I know of where they don’t have a mosquito problem? Disney World.
Disney is in the middle of the world’s most prominent mosquito breeding ground. However, Disney has a mosquito control program that is more ingenious than anything else going on in that park.
What are mosquitoes like in Tennessee?
According to U.S. Pest Protection, Tennessee primarily has three different species of mosquitoes:
The Culex mosquito: The Culex is also known as the house mosquito because it has some sort of grievance. And it goes around grumpily solving hard-to-diagnose medical conditions.
The Yellow Fever mosquito: According to the University of Florida’s Featured Creature Entomology website, the Yellow Fever Mosquito was likely brought to the new world on ships used for European “exploration” and colonization.
It is also the primary vector for yellow fever, a disease that is prevalent in the tropical parts of South America and Africa. And it emerges in temperate regions during the summer months.
“During the Spanish-American War, U.S. troops suffered more casualties from yellow fever transmitted by Aedes aegypti than from enemy fire,” the website says.
Asian Tiger Mosquito: Well, at least it has a cool name. According to the University of California Riverside, the Asian tiger mosquito is an aggressive biter. It made its way to the U.S. in shipments of old tires from Northern Asia.
Twice eradicated from California, it successfully invaded the Southern United States, including East Tennessee. It carries a variety of mosquito-borne diseases that can affect humans and domestic animals.
Mosquitoes are the worst. What diseases do they carry?
Mosquitoes can transmit a number of serious diseases including dengue fever (not common in the continental U.S.), yellow fever, eastern and western equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, Zika virus and malaria.
The most common disease detected is the presence of West Nile Virus. But all of this sounds worse than it is. Most mosquitoes don’t spread disease. They have their little blood meals and you’re left with an itchy bump and go on with your life.
What can I do to prevent mosquitoes from attacking?
When you’re on the road or outdoors, insect repellent is a good bet.
Around your home, female mosquitoes seek out water sources in which the mosquito larvae can thrive. Empty out anything with stagnant water which could become a hot spot.
Adult mosquitoes will lay eggs in standing water in things like:
- Bird baths
- Old tires
- Ornamental pools
- Trash cans
- Pool covers
- Pet water bowls
- Flower pots
Are other bugs and insects a problem in Tennessee?
Well, we are a Southern state so we have quite a few varieties of creepy crawlies.
For instance, we’ve got an old house – built in the 1940s. And it is very, very popular with crickets.
I think, in fact, whoever built the thing atop some sort of sacred cricket Nirvana. It’s similar to the movie “Poltergeist” but instead of the angry spirits of the dead, we have crickets that crawl up through the ventilation system and hang out in our bathroom.
Is that a problem? Not really. Ain’t nobody ever been hurt by a cricket but they do scare the bejesus out of the kids. So every summer a couple of nights a week, we’ll get a terrified scream and my wife and I will have to go on cricket duty. I could pay a professional to come in and wipe the suckers out, but I haven’t done it yet.
After mosquitoes, the most problematic bug in East Tennessee is probably the tick, another bloodsucker that can carry diseases. But unless you’re experiencing symptoms such as fever, chills, aches, pains, vomiting or a rash, a tick bite probably hasn’t transmitted a disease.
To avoid ticks, don’t wear white while walking or hiking – especially through tall grass and brush. If you do go hiking through tall grass or brush, make sure to check yourself that evening, especially in hairy areas where ticks can hide. And also, wear repellent.
The CDC recommends removing an embedded tick with tweezers, grabbing the tick as close to the skin as possible. Don’t jerk or yank the tick or the head will separate from the body and stay in.
Never try to crush a tick. If the head stays in, clean the area with rubbing alcohol and try to use a needle to get the rest of the head out. The CDC also says folklore remedies like covering the tick in nail polish or Vaseline will do more harm than good.
We also have brown recluse and black widow spiders which have poisonous bites that don’t usually require medical treatment. However, you should keep a close eye on them and consult a healthcare provider if there is any question on whether or not you need medical attention.
Do you have a problem with mosquito bites? What is your best advice? Let us know in the comments!