Sunday, 10 July 2011

Mosquitoes

There is only ONE thing about the Arctic that is not so pleasant...

... mosquitoes.

The surrounding vegetation is low and thick to the ground. The huge amounts of water from the snow melts, combined with a thawing, humus-rich peat soil, makes for perfect conditions for mosquitoes to thrive. And, for a couple of months over the summer, the landscape comes alive with swarms of various types of these small biting insects.

Fortunately the KAIRA site is on a raised mound, comprising gravel and rock. This means there is no vegetation cover for the insects and the breeze tends to keep blowing them on. This means that for the most part, a good application of DEET is sufficient to keep them at bay.

However, if the wind drops to nothing, and it is early evening (mosquito-dinner-time), then the insects rove everywhere with impunity. Clouds and clouds of mosquitoes rise up from the surrounding tundra and pervade the entire site.

Although the DEET will keep them off the skin, there have been a couple of occasions where they are so thick that it becomes difficult to work without getting them in the eyes or actually inhaling them. Then, despite the inconvenience, a full face mesh becomes necessary.

How many days until the first snow again?

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