If you have been fishing in Massachusetts in mid-July through early August … well, you know how it goes. No matter where you go, what part of the beach or boat you fish from, there they are: buzzing around you, landing on you, and pretty much making your fishing trip a lot less enjoyable. When you start coming home with welts and itchy spots, that’s when you know: it’s bug season. More specifically, greenhead season. Although fairly different creatures, both mosquitoes and greenheads can really upset your fishing flow. Unfortunately, because it was so rainy in the late spring and early summer this year, they are both coming out strong.
Just what exactly makes greenheads so awful? Greenheads are a type of horsefly named for their bright green eyes. They breed in salt marshes, making parts of Massachusetts overrun with these vicious biters. It is not necessarily the bite itself that humans have such an adverse reaction to, but the saliva in the bite. Although they have a short lifespan, one female greenhead can lay up to 6,000 eggs!
Although not as painful as the greenhead, mosquitoes can be just as annoying, and pose a unique threat to fishermen because of the potential they have to carry disease. West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are two mosquito-borne illness found in Massachusetts, although neither are very prevalent. (Less than 1 in 100 people who are infected with West Nile develop serious illness beyond flu-like symptoms of body aches and fever.) Although it is rare to encounter illness from mosquitoes in this part of the country, it is most certainly something worth being on the lookout for.
There are few simple steps you can take when planning a day (or night) of fishing to safeguard yourself, such as:
- Protecting your skin by wearing long sleeves and pants whenever possible.
- Wearing a hat to better shield your head and face (also helps with sunburn).
- Spraying yourself down with a bug spray containing DEET. DEET can be harmful to humans over time, so use with caution, or try a natural bug spray.
- Using a mosquito-repelling LED lantern to help keep the bugs out of the fishing area all together.
Following these simple steps will help to protect you against both greenheads and mosquitoes, and ensure that the only souvenir you take away from your time on the water is a big old fish.