Sunday, May 24, 2009
This week I moved my walks from the rural state park near my home to a nature preserve in Nashville. This was not a happy choice, since I really prefer the big park. The paths there are rougher, there's more wildlife, and during the week I rarely meet another person on the trail. Unfortunately, the heavy rains we've had lately have created perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes, and being the lone hiker for miles around makes me absolutely irresistible to them. Why should they bother tormenting the deer and the birds, with all that troublesome fur and plumage, when they can chow down on a thin-skinned human? They nearly drained me dry on a couple of outings early this week.
So for now I'm getting in my car and driving 35 environmentally irresponsible miles to the city green space, where there are precious few mosquitoes. Nashville has had as much rain as my home town and ought to have just as many of the tiny bloodsuckers, but since the first West Nile scare a few years back, the city has been spraying and using larvicide to keep the population down. The program is actually pretty moderate in its use of pesticides, but it seems to have had a dramatic cumulative effect.
My home county doesn't have the money to spray for mosquitoes, and it's the sort of thing that paranoid anti-government types (we have a few of those) would be quick to protest. Actually, I've got a little of that anti-government paranoia myself, not to mention an opinionated inner tree hugger who disapproves of poisoning a creature that happens to be an essential food for bats, dragonflies, and other delightful beings. Nevertheless, I am literally voting with my feet in favor of a more controlled--and more toxic--environment. I fear this makes me a fickle and neurotically demanding nature lover. I do not want to share my blood with Mother Earth's pesky children, even if it's only natural for them to desire it.
If you're wondering why there's a picture of a firefly on this post about mosquitoes, it's because last night, as I watched the fireflies float around my front yard, it occurred to me that these pretty glowbugs always appear around the same time each year as those miniature vampires. That's the justice of nature for you. All the pleasure in the world is tied, in one way or another, to a curse. You can't have one without the other, and most attempts to make it otherwise cost us dearly. Firefly populations appear to be dropping dramatically in many places around the world, mostly because of our distortion of the environment with artificial light, deforestation, and yes, pesticides. You can read more about the issue here and here.
Firefly photo by 6th Happiness at Wikimedia Commons.