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Solstices and mosquitoes

By Staff | Jun 21, 2013

Let’s face it, spring was naughty this year, like a child that doesn’t come to his or her parents when called. It was also short and messy. However, yesterday on the calendar was known as the summer solstice, despite any good or bad weather that occurred that day.

Summer what-and-a-huh?

Solstice comes from the Latin word s?lstitium, s?l meaning “sun” and stitium meaning “stoppage”. In essence, the sun stops or stands still. If you were to ask an astronomer what it means, or look in the dictionary, it would tell you that a solstice happens two times a year, winter and summer. During the winter solstice, which is usually on December 21, the sun is at its greatest distance from the equator over the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere, coordinates 23 26′ 16″ S, for those interested in geography or want to know the latitude and longitude). During the summer solstice, which is on June 21, the sun is over the Tropic of Cancer (northern hemisphere, coordinates 23 26′ 16″ N. Both tropics surround the equator, an invisible line that divides Earth horizontally.) This supposedly means that June 21 is the longest day of the year and December 21 is the shortest in the Northern Hemisphere, although it may not feel that way to you.

Solstices are not to be confused with equinoxes, which also occur twice a year. During the Vernal (September 22) and Spring (March 20) equinoxes, Earth’s axis isn’t tilted away from nor toward the Sun. This makes day and night equal length during both days. In fact, equinox comes from the Latin words aequus (meaning “equal”) and nox (meaning “night”).

I genuinely enjoy summer. There’s a chance of going to a lake (my skin doesn’t take the chlorine in swimming pools well.), there’s grilling (of course I’ll do that at any time of year, I’m that kind of guy.), the light show produced by a thunderstorm, and plus I enjoy an occasional ice cold, seasonal beer. Only bad part, I’d have to say, is the droves of mosquitoes.

If the Michigan Mosquito Control Association is to be believed, then apparently mosquitoes are the most dangerous animals on earth, because while feeding on you they could also transmit diseases, like malaria and West Nile virus.

But the fear of mosquitoes shouldn’t ruin your time outdoors. There’s always the standard sprays, citronella candles, and old-time and newfangled bug bite remedies. What you should also keep in mind is that the very thing you drink, which also makes up 70% of your body, is very popular with these pests. It doesn’t matter if you have a slough nearby, a kiddie pool, bird bath or old tires in your backyard, or a tarp to cover that boat or jet-ski-a little standing water attracts mosquitos to it like Las Vegas attracts people wanting to make a million dollars. Best thing to do is to not have any standing, stagnant water around.

Summer also means quite a few activities going on. Village Arts is putting on a musical theatre production, and this year it’s “Les Miserables.” There are also baseball and softball teams playing games. And not to mention, for some youngsters, it’s a respite from school. (Although that may drive some parents crazy.) I guess the only thing left to say is to try and have a good summer. I know I will, when I’m not doing other things.

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