If you have been outside recently, you have no doubt been accosted by any number of flying creatures to aggravate and annoy you. Possibly even felt the stinging itching as a result of them trying to make you their next meal.
It seems this time of year those flying menaces are everywhere. Walk outside and you get bombarded by stinkbugs, Asian ladybeetles (or harlequins), or any manner of gnat and mosquito. It seems this time of year if it annoys or bites, it is flying through the air and are making a mess everywhere.
Some, like the stinkbugs and harlequins like to invade our homes and just make a general nuisance of themselves. They show up everywhere, light fixtures, kitchen sinks, heck I even had to dig one out of my wife’s purse. They get everywhere.
The biting bugs are even worse. The cool fall evenings aren’t nearly as enjoyable when you are constantly swatting and smacking at tiny things that you can barely see, but feel like a shark attack when they land and decide to make a meal out of you.
I will caution you that this time of year, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions when you see someone standing on a street corner wildly flailing their arms and, apparently, muttering to themselves. They may not be having a psychotic break, they may simply be trying to ward off a swarm of biting creatures that you cannot see from a distance.
As bad as it is, humans don’t have it as rough as the animals do. The bugs don’t specifically target humans just for sport. However, some of our scented body washes and lotions no doubt makes us smell more appealing and the wildlife around us must contend with all the same insects that we do.
Sometimes, these insects can be much more than just a simple aggravation. They can be downright deadly.
We are all aware of the dangers of insect borne diseases such as the West Nile virus right here in our own neighborhood. The wildlife face similar diseases every year that are carried and propagated by insects.
Already this year, there have been several confirmed cases of whitetail deer dying due to Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). This disease is carried by small flying midges that seem to do really well in the hot dry days of summer and early fall.
These midges that are infected will bite the deer and pass along the disease. Luckily, the deer can’t pass the virus on to other deer and the disease doesn’t affect humans. It is, however, almost always fatal to the deer.
The disease causes the deer to suddenly lose its appetite and its fear of humans. They soon develop a fever and will often gravitate toward water to try and get their temperatures down. Many of the deer that succumb to the disease are often found in ponds or streams, or near some other water source.
So far, the WVDNR has confirmed EHD in at least eight different counties in West Virginia and I have heard of outbreaks of the disease in neighboring states of Ohio and Kentucky this year as well. I am sure that more reports will continue to pop up until the temperatures cool and the first killing frost arrives. Once the frost kills the midges, the disease will disappear within a week or two after it has run its course in any animal that was already infected.
Even though the disease in not contagious to humans, hunters should never eat meat from an animal that is showing obvious signs of sickness. Everyone is also encouraged to report sick or dead deer to the nearest WVDNR District office so these animals can be accounted for to give the biologists a better idea of how widespread the disease is and the number of deer affected.
So, as the heat of the Indian Summer persists, I am sure more dead deer will be found as victims of these insect borne diseases. Until that first frost you might want to keep the bug spray handy and be glad that at least indoors we can find a little relief from the things that fly and those that bite. But where is the fun in staying inside all the time. Pass me the bug spray, I am going to take my chances outside.
Roger Wolfe is an avid outdoorsman and has spent most of his life hunting and fishing the mountains of West Virginia and writes a weekly outdoors column for HD Media. He is a resident of Chapmanville and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.