Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

From Bearable to Unpleasant and beyond?: Mosquitoes in the Everglades

Wednesday January 29 and Thursday January 30,  2014
Flamingo Campground
Everglades National Park, Florida



And the rains come, again!


Rain all night.  Dark skies, no sunrise and very humid conditions this morning.   This should be the dry season here.  But it’s rained at least 4 times in the past 10 days.


This really is the sunrise this morning.  And shortly after, the sun disappears into the dark clouds.  But the heat continues to increase.






Cloudy at Eco pond as the egrets fly in.  Sure wish they wanted mosquitoes for breakfast.  There are enough to feed an army.




I come over to Eco Pond right after seeing the sun rise, such as it was, as usual.  I am here about 5 minutes and it is clear that I am going to be mince meat in my usual attire of long sleeves, long pants, hat, sox and shoes.



So, dedicated Eco Pond bird watcher that I am, I go home to get my mosquito suit. 




The problem with the “suit” is that I had my glasses on the inside and my sunglasses on the outside.  Luckily since the sun didn’t come out from behind the thick total cloud cover, I could leave the sunglasses at home.   Still, using the face cover with glasses and a camera with an eye piece is a real challenge.   Note to self:  Next time wear your contacts.





Round 2:  Eco pond, of course, is beautiful in all weather. 







This is my solution to the can’t see with glasses problem but it just allows the mosquitos access to my face. They are amazingly able to find any piece of skin uncovered.




Even with all my gear, including paddling gloves covering my hands up to the first knuckle of my fingers, the mosquitos are all over my the ends of my fingers whenever I try to take any pictures.   They are biting me through the netting at any point it is next to my skin.  The trick is to wear layers of clothing under the netting.  Like a two long sleeve shirts but then I am SOooooo  hot in this temperature and humidity.  





My pictures are turning out terribly as I jerk and slap the mosquitos so I give it up and walk back to the campground under threatening rain skies.




As I get to the campground I find this flock of white ibis going all over the grass.  What is it they are looking for?  You can see David out running in the background.  Later he said he usually runs and walks in turn but today he had to run nearly the entire time to out run the mosquitoes.  He didn’t stay out as long as usual, too hot, too humid, too many mosquitoes.  That’s getting to be the refrain for the day.   HHHm – hazy, hot, humid, mosquitoes.








Just as I get back to Winnona, it starts raining again. 


We’ve been told that this is a most unusual for “winter” in the Everglades.  This is supposed to be the dry season.  Many species mate when the water levels are low. It’s unclear how such this continuing rain will affect the natural cycles here.  The rains aren’t supposed to begin until May or June. 



Rain stops, for now, how about a ranger program?


The 1:30 visitor center program is about butterflies so we head up the Guy Bradley trail walking quickly, because of the mosquitoes, in light weight clothing because of the heat.

Ranger Christy tells us about the most common butterflies in the park including the Zebra Longwing and Giant white which we have seen.   The ranger programs at the National Parks are always excellent and very informative.  Everglades is no exception.







From Bearable to Unpleasant can Horrible be far behind?


After the program we go into the visitor center and check the mosquito meter.  Sure enough, it has gone up from Bearable when we first got her to Unpleasant.  Obviously this reading wasn’t taken at Eco Pond this morning or in my opinion it would have been Horrible.





We check out these clouds over Florida Bay from the visitor center patio.  Looks like Rain.  But we’re prepared.  I have a rain jacket and David has an umbrella.





Looks even more like rain as we start off down the Guy Bradley trail for our mile long walk back to the campground.




The sun keeps trying to break through the clouds.  As it gets close, it turns the sky orange. It looks like sunset in mid afternoon.   Even without the full force of the sun it is so humid and we are seriously sweating.








And then all of a sudden the sun breaks through and the entire place feels like a steam bath.  Hot, hot and more hot.  I’ve got a great use for the umbrella and wonder why we don’t use them as sun shades more often these days.  I don’t think they’ve been used that way commonly since the late 19th century except in other countries.   It really lowered the temperature.








Hot and humid again today. 


Rain predicted but it looks fine as we head over for the ranger tree walk beginning at the visitor center.  We did this walk last year and learned so much that we wanted to do it again to refresh our memories.










Still too buggy to go into the mangroves so today we’re doing a tree walk with ranger Christi.


I’m not going to show you every tree we talked about just a few.  There are an amazing number of different trees here in this section of the Everglades.  Four palms alone.

I was amazed to find out how much I remembered.   We first talked about the mangroves which are the heart of this area.  The red mangroves are usually found in the water.  Their roots form intertangled arches that are pretty impenetrable and great for protection for lots of fish and birds and baby alligators.  Tough to track a bad guy through them as well.  Or chance the Seminole Indians.  

The black mangroves which grow a hairline elevation higher than the red mangroves put up these little pencil roots.  Then the white mangroves grow “behind” them at a slightly higher elevation and the buttonwoods grow on dry land.  




We see the paurotis palm which is the most tropical  looking of all the palms to me.  It has multiple trunks and is another impenetrable barrier to predators of all kinds.



This is the royal palm distinguished by it’s brilliant green trunk under its frons.   A frond had fallen off this tree and we had a chance to just how heavy they are.  Don’t be standing under one when this happens is all I can say.






The last one I’m going to show isn’t really a tree.  Well it was.  It was once the state tree, the sable palm.  But then a strangler fig attached to one of its limbs and now surrounds the palm which is barely visible.  It didn’t kill the palm although lack of sunlight surely will.






Looks like today is education day.


After the 2.5 hour walk concludes we head into the Visitor Center museum where I find more information on Guy Bradley the game warden killed at age 35 defending the ban on plume hunting.  A picture of his tombstone is also there.  I wonder if it is still on Cape Sable Beach.   “Guy M. Bradley 1870-1905  Faithful unto death as Game Warden of Monroe county.  He gave his life for the cause to which he was pledged.”





I get to see a spiny lobster which is the warm water lobster here in the south.   Totally different from the Maine lobster we had this summer, distant cousins at best.   From an eating standpoint, all the spiny lobster’s meat is in its tails.  I’ve read that pound for pound spiny lobsters have more meat in their bodies than their New England cousins.   They say spinys are a bit tougher and not as rich tasting.  I guess I’ll have to try one to find out for myself.





And then………..you’ll never guess.


We leave the visitor center to raining skies.   And of course today, since it didn’t look like rain, we had neither raincoat nor umbrella.   Oh well, it’s only just over a mile walk back and we’re drip dry.  Right???




  1. sigh...reading about the mosquitoes makes me tired. I don't have netting...not even sure I have the right clothes...2 days at Midway even could be challenging.

  2. There is so much beauty there and it shows clearly in your photographs. But the mosquitos would drive me away I'm afraid - that and the heat/humidity.

  3. Thanks for all the posts, feels like I was just there, missed the skeeters though.

  4. Strange...strange...weather;o(( EVERYWHERE!!!

  5. Oh, the stories about the mosquitoes are killing me. When a getup like yours, Sherry, doesn't deter them, they must be bad. Ugh. I do agree about using umbrellas for shade. We went to Panama to a missions trip the summer of 1998 and I carried my umbrella all the time. People thought I was a bit strange, but I didn't want to spend the entire time putting on suntan lotion and/or getting sunburned. I've used an umbrella for sun shade quite a bit since then. Maybe we need for the parasol to make a comeback for it to really catch on. Thanks for the pictures!

  6. oh lord?! the sqeeter meter .. HAhaa…. rat bastards.

    I'm freeeeezing ... ice and more snow but I tell ya... I usually want to be where you are but I am all too familiar with teh skeeters and humidity and heat ... and nope... not this time.

    I have been where you are but somehow I missed the worst weather ... when was I there? ... can't remember the month but it was in 2009 or was it 2007 ... I dunno.. CRS ... but I don't have time for mosquitoes or gnats... rat bastards one and all ...

    Like your frilly girl umbrella! ;)

  7. I have just decided that I can live without the everglades. Cannot deal with mosquitoes! Nada...none...nicht...

  8. I wondered about the mosquitoes down there. Just something you need to deal with if you want to see the wonders of the Glades. At least you had a few good days without the bothersome critters. --Dave

  9. Sorry the skeeters are bad this year. I don't remember the bugs at all when we were there last winter in January. We didn't have much rain then either. It has been quite wet in Florida this winter.

  10. I'm a little hysterical thinking how bad they have to be to hit Hysterical on the mosquito meter.

    Love the picture of you with the netting, sunglasses on the outside. Made me LOL

  11. I think this has been an odd winter everywhere in the south.

  12. It is hard to read through your blog at times because of the mosquitoes! Yuck! I am not sure there is ever a good time visit that area. Glad you are making the most of that area and the bug situation. You have the correct attitude to visit there. Good for you:)

  13. I wonder how the portable Thermacell would work. I have the lantern and it really does work with mosquitos. I, too, have a netting suit and you're right, Sherri, the secret is to wear long sleeve shirts. I'd rather die of heat stroke that deal with the bugs down there or some times of the year over on the coast of Georgia. I camped on Skidaway one year during mosquito time. I spent a lot of time under my awning with the Thermacell. Anyone who stopped by wound up going to get one. The mosquitoes over on the coast are as big as plains and the hurt!

  14. Oh. My. God. You are unbelievably resilient. I grew up in Miami and made way too many fishing trips to Flamingo with my family…. reading your post brings back traumatic memories of being eaten alive by the mosquitoes! But you sure made the best of your visit and didn't let the heat, humidity, or bugs get in the way of enjoying life. ;-)

  15. I would not be able to put up with that kind of a mosquito problem!


  16. Thanks for braving all the skeeters and humidity to share those beautiful pictures! Love the net suit!

  17. My parents (who are in Englewood) keep telling me this is the "oddest" weather they've ever experienced in their many years of wintering in Englewood. They haven't really complained because it isn't all that COLD which to them, is the worst of all scenarios. They just keep mentioning rain and calling it "odd!"

  18. Finally catching up on your Everglades experience. I was happy to see you had better weather and fewer mosquitoes when you first arrived.

    I love your enthusiasm for the special ecosystem there. We considered stopping there for a few days on our way to the Keys but the mosquitoes are a big deterrent for me as I get an allergic reaction to them. You two are brave and adventurous souls--but I knew that already.

  19. Please keep the mosquitoes with you. Since it's been so cold here in Texas, the buggers haven't been their usual challenge.

  20. I think we need to track down Mother Nature and ask her what was she thinking when she made those skeeters.

    With you mosquito protection outfit you could be mistaken as the Creature From the Black Lagoon! Fortunately with your height, no one could assume that you're Big Foot... :cD

  21. Loved your tour... glad to experience it via my laptop... mosquitoes! Slap, Slap, bite, bite....itch itch

  22. I'm not sure I could bear the Everglades in humidity & biting skeeters.

  23. Ick! I feel irritable just hearing bout the mosquitos. Wearing all that gear and they are still all over you! Is there no decent bug spray that isn't toxic??? I was in Florida with my Mom and Aunt when I was a little girl. Somebody left a door or window opened and I was absolutely covered with bites. So bad that one of the mothers pulled her kid out of the pool when she saw me because she thought I had chicken pox. I remember trying to sleep were staying in Long Island in the summer and you'd hear "neneneneneneneenne" buzzing around your head!@#@! XXXOOO

  24. Yup - 36 years of living in Florida - and all the mosquitos I could eat. One trip out west, and I was cured of living in Florida. Never again for me! Not a good trade off.

  25. Surely there must be some place in between us that has a balance of no mosquitoes, and no "wintery mix" warnings. It was 28 here in Austin this morning... Love your mossie suit!

  26. Mosquitoes are sooo annoying - I just feel like saying 'geez- BE QUIET - whatever you are saying, no one cares!!' I know that's the noise they make flying, but still they sound like they are just begging for attention no one wants to give! That lobsters is unique - such diversity - animals, plants, trees! I am always impressed with those willing to give their lives for what they believe to be right.


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