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Question about snow melt and bugs

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  • Matt Mason
    particularly mosquitoes. Is there more or less a linear correlation between the amount of snowfall/timing of melt in a given year and the intensity of the
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 30, 2011
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      particularly mosquitoes.

      Is there more or less a linear correlation between the amount of snowfall/timing of melt in a given year and the intensity of the general mosquito population or are there a bunch of other variables that play into this?

      For example, is there some general rule of thumb to go by, such as the mosquitoes will be horrible for the first 4 weeks after the snow has melted at a given elevation (unless you're way above timberline), bad for the next 2, moderate for the next 2, and (unless you're near a lot of standing water) virtually non-exist after that.

      I'm thinking about two times I hiked the JMT during wetter and drier than average years. The first was in 1997, which was a wetter than average year (although nothing like this year). That year, I'd guess that in Yosemite, the snow melt line for a spot having average sun exposure was at the 10,000 foot elevation at about the summer solstice (June 21). We started hiking the JMT on July 22 (one month later) and the mosquitoes were somehwere between horrible and bad.

      The second was in 2007, which was a much drier than average year. That year, I'd guess that in Yosemite, the snow melt line for a spot having average sun exposure was at the 10,000 foot elevation before Memorial Day (at least one month earlier than in '97). We started hiking the JMT on July 22 (weird coincidence) and the mosquitoes were virtually unnoticeable (the only time I remember being even moderately bothered by them was near the Bear Creek crossing, which, incidentally, almost didn't even require boot removal).

      So for those who have spent a lot of time in the Sierras, are my limited experiences consistent with your much greater levels of experience? If so, is there sort of a general rule of thumb between mosquitoes and snow melt?
    • sanfran_rwood
      I don t think anyone has made a better rule of thumb than your attempt; but, yeah, there are too many other factors, I suspect. But what I think you might be
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 30, 2011
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        I don't think anyone has made a better rule of thumb than your attempt; but, yeah, there are too many other factors, I suspect.

        But what I think you might be missing is the role of flowers. Mosquitoes don't eat snow, they eat nectar (and, for the females, a little blood on the side). The snowmelt permits the flowers to bloom, and so the population of nectar-eaters explodes.

        Shade is another factor. I'm not sure whether it's that mosquitoes will dehydrate faster in constant sun or if they're seeking shadows to hide in when not hunting, but they've always seemed to be more prevalent where there's shade somewhere nearby.

        Wind is also a factor. The Tahoe ridgeline of the PCT last year (above Alpine Meadows, in the Granite Chief Wilderness Area) was a veritable floral jungle, but the exposed and windy conditions meant mozzies weren't significant.

        I was in Yosemite last week and despite the quickly melting snow there just weren't many mosquitoes, but there also weren't many flowers.

        Just my two dimes worth...
        --
        Richard

        --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "Matt Mason" <masonmj84@...> wrote:
        >
        > particularly mosquitoes.
        >
        > Is there more or less a linear correlation between the amount of snowfall/timing of melt in a given year and the intensity of the general mosquito population or are there a bunch of other variables that play into this?
        >
        > For example, is there some general rule of thumb to go by, such as the mosquitoes will be horrible for the first 4 weeks after the snow has melted at a given elevation (unless you're way above timberline), bad for the next 2, moderate for the next 2, and (unless you're near a lot of standing water) virtually non-exist after that.
        >
        > I'm thinking about two times I hiked the JMT during wetter and drier than average years. The first was in 1997, which was a wetter than average year (although nothing like this year). That year, I'd guess that in Yosemite, the snow melt line for a spot having average sun exposure was at the 10,000 foot elevation at about the summer solstice (June 21). We started hiking the JMT on July 22 (one month later) and the mosquitoes were somehwere between horrible and bad.
        >
        > The second was in 2007, which was a much drier than average year. That year, I'd guess that in Yosemite, the snow melt line for a spot having average sun exposure was at the 10,000 foot elevation before Memorial Day (at least one month earlier than in '97). We started hiking the JMT on July 22 (weird coincidence) and the mosquitoes were virtually unnoticeable (the only time I remember being even moderately bothered by them was near the Bear Creek crossing, which, incidentally, almost didn't even require boot removal).
        >
        > So for those who have spent a lot of time in the Sierras, are my limited experiences consistent with your much greater levels of experience? If so, is there sort of a general rule of thumb between mosquitoes and snow melt?
        >
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