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The Ultimate Predator: The Upper Peninsula Mosquito

| Updated Jul 10, 2013

I  started to write this last night from deep in the woods of the Ottawa National Forest in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It was going to be such a perfect night. So we thought.

Jen in her borrowed bug protection

From our USDA campspite at Robbin's Pond, there was probably not another human around for miles. Judging by the lack of tire tracks in the forest service road that led us here, there hadn't been anyone else at this site in days.

mosquitoIt was such an awesome wilderness camping spot. The Ottawa is huge – one million acres in size, extending from the south shore of Lake Superior to the Wisconsin border. The area is rich in wildlife. Besides several wolf packs, it is home to lots of black bear, deer, bobcat and, to listen to the locals, several cougars.

Me in my bug jacket

Those beasts were not our problem.

We were the defenseless prey of the ultimate predator – the Upper Peninsula mosquito.

I wrote earlier this week about our battle with the bugs further west in the UP over by the Porcupine Mountains. But in the Ottawa, the bugs were even worse.

We had been outside in the woods for several hours earlier. Thanks to an interview source, we had borrowed bug jackets – fine mesh netting that you slip over your your body to stop the insects from biting through. The jackets have a zippered hood to protect your face, head and neck and draw strong tighteners around the waist and your hands. That's what I'm wearing in the photo accompanying this post. You could not survive without a bug jacket. Venture outside in the UP woods and you are immediately swarmed.

The Robbins Pond Campground has three dispersed camping sites deep in the Ottawa National Forest.

After exploring the area , we found the far, far off-the-beaten-path campground. As darkness came, we used our George Foreman Grill to cook up some chicken which we put on a salad for a late dinner, cooking inside rather than out because of the mosquitos.

in the Roadtrek eTrek, we started to kill off  the several dozen mosquitos that made their way inside during the quick few seconds that the door was open to let Tai outside.

Poor Tai ventured a few few feet outside and immediately ran back inside.

All through dinner, we swatted mosquitos. It became apparent that they were somehow finding their way inside. We searched the screens and saw a tiny little space. I grabbed a roll of duct tape and taped them up as Jennifer kept swatting and Tai looked for someplace to hide.

There is no place in the Roadtrek to hide.

We caught them in our hands. We smacked them as they landed on us. We whacked them when they alighted on walls and flat surfaces. They left blood smears. Our blood. It looked like a Hollywood horror flick in miniature with blood spatter everywhere.

But somehow, even with the windows and screens sealed, the mosquitos found their way inside. And they kept coming.

So, about 11:30 PM, we got going.

We moved to the town of Watersmeet where the Lac Vieux Desert band of the Lake Superior Chippewa operate a Resort & Casino. We thought about spending the night in one of the several very nice RV sites they have, complete with hookups. But the Roadtrek was still filled with mosquitos. We surrendered. We were all swatted out.  So we got a room for the night.

Saved by the Indians.

I woke early this morning and went out to  the Roadtrek to grab the computer and finish this post. I killed ten of them. I turned on the Fantastic Fan, which helps suck some of them to the covering screen, where they can be squished. I delightfully dispatched another half dozen. But there are dozens more still buzzing around in there.

After coffee back in the room, I'll wake Jennifer and we'll make a counter attack and rid the Roadtrek of the insects. We're headed to Marquette today, where I want to buy a new pair of hiking boots.

And a bug jacket.


Mike Wendland

Published on 2013-07-10

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

10 Responses to “The Ultimate Predator: The Upper Peninsula Mosquito”

July 11, 2013at12:09 am, Kristi said:

Never had skeeters that bad in the RT, but I’ve worked in environs where they were so fierce in force, that they’d have carried me away if I hadn’t had mosquito net gear. Even still, their buzzing is enough to drive one insane. The best thing to do in this situation is head to the beach … they’re never bad there!

July 10, 2013at9:01 pm, Maureen said:

Well that would drive me just crazy….were you wearing any bug sprays (ie skin so soft, Listerine, commercial bug sprays, etc.)? I’ve never been in an environment like that.

July 10, 2013at9:36 am, Dave said:

Mike, you need skeeter jammies! On one of our earlier campers we had problems just like you had. We finally found them coming in thru the power cable hatch, thru a compartment and out from under the sink. I wonder if the air intake for the dash heat/AC is screened fine enough to keep out the buggers or if there is access thru the fridge vent. It sure doesn’t take much for them to sneek thru around a screen either. Don’t let ’em get you down!

July 10, 2013at9:04 am, Jim Diepenbruck said:

This story brought back memories of swatting skeeters 41 years ago this week. Carolyn and I camped our way across the U.P. on our honeymoon. McLain State Park in Hancock, MI stands out in my memory and it seems the little critters are still abundant. I wonder if foggers are allowed????

July 10, 2013at8:56 am, Mike Wendland said:

I haven’t told you about deer flies yet…. they are also here

July 10, 2013at8:47 am, Campskunk said:

those aren’t typos – it’s the mosquitos tap dancing on the keyboard
saved by the indians – LMAO
we have a brief horsefly/deerfly season in Montana where we are – supposedly only lasts two weeks, but here they are. they’re so dumb and slow you can swat them before they bite, though
the mosquitoes here are relentless dusk to dawn, and we are inside, swatting the few that got in. in the daytime we’re out in a clearing, where wind, sunshine and low humidity keep them at bay. Sharon lit her white sage bundle to purify the kiva – they don’t like that, either 😉

July 10, 2013at8:41 am, Judy said:

I can tell you were under a lot of pressure to send this article out quickly by all the typos. FYI – I’ve used those fly paper strips in my sunroom and they worked great! I guess when the numbers of bugs are that bad, it’s just impossible to keep up with (or type up an article lol). Hope you got all the bugs out by now!

July 10, 2013at8:30 am, Lisa said:

Bless your hearts! Hmmm… I make rethink the time of year I visit Canada again. Looks like my vists in April were a good time to miss the bugs….

July 10, 2013at1:20 pm, Karsten Askeland said:

Hey Lisa … I’m sure that we have mosquitoes here in Canada as well. But from what I read these a the the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula mosquitoes. Mike is reporting from the Ottawa National Forest, which is in Michigan.
To be honest … I just couldn’t go to an area that was inundated with mosquitoes like that. I was in the UP back in May and fortunately we didn’t have them then … just a tad cooler … which suited me fine.

July 10, 2013at8:27 am, Pam Hicks said:

What a nightmare!!!

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