|Green head (photo credit bugguide.net)|
New England in early summer is a true delight--warm days, cool nights, bright green trees and luscious flowering plants. And truly lackadaisical mosquitoes. Seriously, compared to Brazilian mosquitoes, the American ones are smoking weed and living life in the slow lane. Brazilian mosquitoes will bite you so fast you don't even know they're there until they buzz in your ear in a zzzzzzz of "got ya, sucka!" as they leave. American ones do not buzz in your ear. No, they circle for a bit, then sit their big butts down and drink a slurpee. They die in large numbers in our Brazilian-trained household--we are fast with a slap.
So, I've gotten to be a bit blasé about American bugs. Yeah, ticks are a bitch and I don't want lyme disease but in São Paulo's concrete jungle my dog got canine tick disease three times and here in the mecca of deer ticks, no one, not even me and Coalie the woods walkers, have gotten a bite. I am knocking wood on the dining room table at the moment.
Brazilian ants are not to be trifled with either; one took out a large chomp of one toddler son's finger tip and others crawled out of an ant hill and up a kid's pants leg until you could hear the screams down the block. The bites can itch and burn for days.
Yesterday morning, BH and I decided that we wanted to have a beach day today. A one-day trip, hopefully not more than an hour and a half from home. My parents had toddled off to Martha's Vineyard with my brother's family so we were, I suppose, feeling some summertime envy. I remembered that a neighbor had gone to a place called "Crane Beach" a few weeks ago, and I decided to check in for advice on parking and distances.
The neighbor answered my text with advice to arrive by 10 am but to call first. That it was green head season and I should ask the beach operator how bad they were. And I said "Ack, wtf are green heads?" And her answer was "When they land on you and start sucking your blood, blood-curdling screams will echo on Mars." And I thought, holy crap, what are these suckers?
I looked them up here and saw that these are nasty inch-long beasts with green eyes which give them the green head name. They live in the salt marsh (and are also known as salt marsh horseflies) that is near Crane Beach, then come out in the first weeks of July and suck every living beach goer dry. This was not something I was looking forward to, given my past experience with the borrachudo at BH's family beach. Have I mentioned these evil things? They are tiny, so tiny you never see them before they bite you HARD, then the bite itches for about a week. No kidding. That long. They are the pestilence of São Paulo state beaches.
So I was worried. Unfortunately I told my kids I was worried. And so they worried. I decided I would check with another friend who lives in Falmouth, MA about beach conditions there "Kim," I texted, "there are green heads in Ipswich, how are things down there at the Cape?" And she answered "Green heads are around but I haven't noticed them on the beach. Rumor is stinging jelly fish though." And I thought to myself, WTF New England????? I get through Snowmaggedon and slow spring mosquitoes and ticks and traffic and general New England CRAP and now you have Bugmaggedon for July? Oh, all right, stinging jelly fish are not bugs. Thank you, editors. Menace-maggedon. Let's not even get started on the great white sharks spotted off of Cape Cod.
We, intrepid world travelers that we are, decided to risk it. We hopped in the car at 8:30 and got to the outskirts (read: the salt marsh) at Crane at 9:30 am. As we waited to pay our entrance fee, a number of buzzy beasts attacked the car. My kids squealed like it was Hitchcock's The Birds. Yep, I had stressed them but good. We parked the car in row six (that was one busy beach) and as we were getting out, two green heads flew in. They are not quick. I killed them with a flip-flop. My kids were impressed by my kung fu moves.
|The pretty Crane Beach. Minus buzzy things.|
Crane Beach is pretty awesome. Like a Guarujá awesome, if you are Brazilian. Like a Key Biscayne beach awesome, if you are American. Wide beach, filled with colorful umbrellas and lots and lots of people. Great soft sand, not too noisy, kid and adult friendly. No waves. FREEZING cold water. I will never ever complain about Guaecá again. I could not feel my toes thirty seconds after walking in, and had to slap them back to life after getting out. Dang, New England beaches are not for the weak.
Ah, back to Bugmaggedon. Well, they are annoying, I will give them that. There were not many--of course we were tri-layered in Deet, OFF, sunscreen so they were probably a little taken aback by us. And they are slow and large. Infinitely more killable than borrachudos in Brazil. Not nearly as painful and not at all itchy after the bite. I took one bite on the ankle--it felt roughly like a needle being quickly inserted and then it felt like the slap that it took to kill that slow-moving buggo. No itch. So, no offense to my well-meaning neighbor, but that bug is an amateur next to the South Americans. A CONCACAF bug playing with Libertadores teams.
Yeah, at noon more came out and we did eventually leave when we got tired of slapping our legs. Surely the season gets worse as the sign at the gate reads "Green head season. No refunds." So, they will cause pain, just not yet. To the Brazilians.