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Bug Season Manifesto

Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't live without insects. You're heard all of the great things about how they pollinate our crops and what not, but nobody ever says great things about how annoying they can be. Their omnipresence in spring, their incessant whining in your ears, their itchy welts they inflict upon us... no love. That changes today! This is my Bug Season Manifesto.

I love bugs. Buckle up everyone, this isn't a guide on how to avoid bugs, it's a guide on how to embrace them.

The Backstory

The year was 2022. There I was, minding my own business, paddling around lakes in the Ottawa National Forest as one does, when it struck me. Or rather, several million somethings struck me, hungry for blood. It was June and bug season was at its peak. The mosquitos were on the warpath and I was their primary target. I had nowhere to run because I had the excellent idea to camp on a lake with swamps in all directions. Pinned down, I prepared my last will and testament and wrote sad goodbyes to my loved ones, not expecting to survive the night.

Then something weird happened. I started to have fun. Slowly, strangely, the bugs became less bothersome than they once had been. I took some dumb pictures cheesin' with my bug net on and bounced around the floating bog mats like a lunatic. As one does.

Many adventures later, along came the apocalyptic bug season of 2023. Even old timers I talked with could not recall a buggier year in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Black fly swarms chased me everywhere I went in droves. When the mosquitos arrived on the scene, they were a force to be reckoned with. Clouds of them literally blotted out the sun. The thickest layers and most concentrated DEET known to science could not stop them. They were relentless. No sooner after I squashed dozens on the back of my hand did another contingent move in to replace them. It took weeks for me to finally purge my truck of mosquitos that had secreted themselves away in the vents, under the seats, in the glovebox, and other hidden corners. Weeks!

Lesser adventurers cowered. I simply laughed. This was livin'.

The Embrace

I was hooked. After experiencing the absolute worst that bug season could possibly offer, there was no going back. Like a drug, I needed more. A backyard campfire with a few black flies or mosquitos? Hardly an inconvenience. Invite them 'round for a drink! Noseeums, ticks by the score, horseflies, you name it, bring 'em on. The challenge of bug season became yet another of my calling cards. Once you've teetered over the brink, everything else pales in comparison.

I slowly came to realize what had changed in my mind to allow me to carry on during bug season without worry. It's all about diverting focus away from the insanity. There's always a task at hand, whether that's paddling or pickin' firewood. Even when there's nothing but the landscape and my own thoughts, I no longer let them break through. It's just too nice to care.

I later had a Deep Thought while shouting proclamations from the edge of a big cliff, swarmed with black flies of course. That being, "Bugs cannot damage us anymore than we are already damaging ourselves." What's a few dozen bites when I'm out here bushwhacking through swamps, sliding down cliffs, sloshing across bogs, and otherwise enjoying a reckless day in the wild? I usually lose more blood to spruce trees than I do to mosquitos and you don't hear me calling for them to be banished from the planet. And that's just the physical damage! Don't even get me started on the mental anguish that stems from life, the universe, and everything. That's far heavier than the anxiety brought on by a few trillion mosquitoes.

It's all about your perspective on things. The bugs will always be hungry during the spring and summer months. I'm the one who decided it would be a fun hobby to visit every lake in the area, even those known to the scientific community as mosquito breeding grounds. If I'm going to have fun out here, I've got to stop worrying and learn to live with the bugs.

The Results

Accepting to the insect infestation in my life has opened a lot of doors for me. Chief among them was a newfound appreciation for the month of June. Historically June was my least favorite month because the bugs made it so difficult to enjoy being outside. No longer! All I had to do was stop caring that mosquitos were biting every finger while I was taking a photo or making dinner at camp. Life is so easy now. It's like I've clawed back 1/12th of the year for bonus adventures.

I've also become insufferable at group gatherings with people who have not gone slightly mad and written a bug season manifesto. "There are barely any bugs!" I cry out when they complain about a solitary black fly. "I've seen so much worse, you ought to visit some swamps with me to se for yourself!" No one ever wants to go hike for fun in the swamps with me. They don't know what they're missing!

Really though, experiencing the complete insanity of peak bug season in the worst possible environments does change your outlook on adventuring the rest of the year. Suddenly every hike is that much more enjoyable because by comparison. Just like a dusting of snow is hardly an inconvenience compared to a blizzard, so too are those few mosquitos buzzing around. They're not even worth a thought!


Bugs: they're just background noise.

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