There were no bugs at Beaver Dam Creek. Another Friday night of fishing had begun and there wasn’t a mosquito in sight as I set up my lawn chair about 3 feet from the river. The sun was going down and the reflections from the water were scattered splotches of red, green, yellow and gold.
There was only the occasional breeze stirring the slow moving creek and surprisingly I did not even the occasional gnat. Being the southern male that I am and not seeing any evidence of blood sucking flying insects, I made the momentous decision not to use any bug spray until there was a need. Bad move!
I hadn’t counted on being invaded by zillions of No-See-Ums. Through the night there was only a hint of something being amiss. Every once in a while I would feel a little minor sting, not bad, but a sting or bite anyway. When searching for the critter that bit me, there was no hint of the culprit.
The next morning my legs and ankles were covered in a thick rash, leading me to believe I had come in contact with Poison Ivy somewhere in the dark by the water. After more investigation I determined I had been attacked by at least a billion No-See-Ums. In this age of trillion dollar deficits, a billion really doesn’t sound like much. It certainly felt like a billion.
No-See-Ums are tiny little bugs that bite you, leave its larvae on your skin and then leave. Only the female draws blood, to help the eggs mature. You may not be able to see them when they attack, but you will see and feel their mark the next day
July and August are the ideal months for these invisible little insects to gather around rivers, streams and lakes. If the air is still and somewhat humid, they thrive and launch themselves at anything that has exposed skin and blood, usually humans.
If the night is calm, as it was over the weekend, these vicious little bugs can ruin any outdoor activity. The problem is that for many like me, you don’t even know you’ve been bitten until it’s too late. By the time I wised up and sprayed myself with bug spray, the damage had been done.
By Saturday afternoon I was in such misery with the billions of bites that I called the doctor. After he asked me why I had not used bug spray, he told me to go to the pharmacy and get a tube of 1% Hydrocortisone cream and apply it liberally.
After slathering on a handful of the cream to my raspberry colored legs and ankles, I waited expectantly for the itching to go away. Nothing happened, so I added more of the Hydrocortisone cream. Still nothing happened, the itching continued.
My wife couldn’t take my pain any longer. After a particularly long bout of listening to my whining and complaining, she went to a local dollar store and bought a tube of something called Anti-Itch Cream. It contained a Histamine Blocker and the writing on the box proclaimed that it was a comparable ingredient to Benadryl. It cost a buck and it worked!
Within minutes the itching was gone and was replaced by “a peace that passeth all understanding.” The welts, which were like small mosquito bites, haven’t yet completely disappeared but are on their way out. It seems that the rash lasts for about a week before it completely fades away.
My night at Beaver Dam Creek wasn’t a total loss. I saw a 30 pound catfish caught by an old man and his granddaughter who was helping him run a trot line. The fish was a big blue that had been caught on a cricket. They also had several other catfish that were smaller.
I’m not sure I’ll go back to the river anytime soon. To quote an old southern philosopher, “I’ve enjoyed about as much of this that I can stand.”