. Bloodletting season begins
The bugs are coming! The bugs are coming!

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( May 19/00) - Grab hold of your sanity with both hands, bug season's coming up.

Gallons of blood will once again be sucked out of us by those flying arguments against the existence of a benevolent creator -- mosquitoes. And once again, black flies will consume pounds of our flesh, bite by tiny bite.

Avoiding sunstroke isn't the only reason to wear a hat when you go camping. Kevin Johnston sports the latest in northern hair pieces, a mosquito toupee - photo courtesy of Greg Robertson

Despise 'em or hate 'em, there's not much we can do to stem the tide of flying pests about to wash over our land.

Something that always helps is knowing things could be worse. Next time the bugs start getting to you on your way to your favourite fishing spot on Jackfish Lake, think of Dale Ross working amid the black flies on the Eastern Arctic tundra.

"It's a lot worse out there (in the Eastern Arctic)," said the Water Survey of Canada worker. "I've found over the years the black flies are the worst. They want a chunk of flesh from you."

Ross recalled seeing strange shows of black fly power during field work near Dubawnt Lake.

"You get a calm evening and they just form these funnel clouds that can stretch 300 feet into the sky. Little mini tornadoes."

What are they doing?

"Just buzzing around, I don't know, maybe its some kind of massive orgy going on."

Ross said concerns about ill effects of the gallons of bug dope they were using led water survey workers to opt for the most effective defence against bugs -- a bug jacket.

Though they provide physical protection, bug jackets still leave your sanity intact while you battle the torment of the barbarian swarms.

Jeff Coates, avid Yellowknife fisherman and all-around outdoorsman, how do you deal with the incessant whine of thousands of bugs baying for your blood?

"It's pretty hard sometimes," Coates admitted. He wears a bug jacket, but figures a little extra defence can't hurt.

"Take your daily bath in Deep Woods Off, and keep your mouth closed when you're paddling really fast.

"If all else fails, jump into the water -- the hypothermia will take your mind off the bugs."

Ross said that, so far, it's looking like there might be only a gazillion bugs this summer instead of the usual billion gazillion.

"I would think locally, because we have pretty low water levels, they shouldn't be as bad as what they normally may be. But if we get a bunch of rain that could change that scenario," he said.