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Today I came across this passage while reading “The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960.”

In Alaska, for example, the plague was mosquitoes. There are more than 3,000 species of these insects, and at times it seemed that all of them had decided to hold a revival meeting or a roundup in Alaska. When (conservationist Charles Sheldon) studied paleontology as a boy, he learned the mosquitoes had been around to buzz and bite the dinosaurs. Scientists would in coming years find mosquitoes trapped in amber (petrified sap) in a tree fossil more than 38 million years old. During the summer months, swarms of mosquitoes attacked Arctic Alaska’s four caribou herds, forcing the Porcupine herd to migrate 700 miles to escape them. … There were other true flies in Alaska – crane flies, midges, and gnats – but it was the mosquito, wings beating between 250 and 600 times a minute, that became the bane of outdoorsmen, considered a hazard as menacing as wind, sleet, and snow.

And they’re still menacing as ever.



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May 14th, 2011 at 7:09 pm

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