Friday, August 14, 2015


Anyone who has been coming to Ocracoke for some time is familiar with our mosquito population. Although they can, at times, be quite a nuisance, much depends on weather and rainfall. Dry and/or windy conditions can significantly cut down on their numbers. In addition, Ocracoke has a mosquito control program that is very effective. In fact, mosquitoes have not been much of a problem this season, although I have noticed a few recently.

Pat Garber has written a chapter in her book, Ocracoke Wild, about mosquitoes. I found these statistics fascinating: "These tiny creatures weigh so little that 25,000 would be required to make an ounce. They are capable of flying 30 miles per hour, beating their wings 400 to 600 times per second."

Photo from the Ocracoke Current

Pat also points out that mosquito "larvae provide an important food source for hatchling fish and well as for turtles, frogs, and water insects. Bats, swallows, spiders, and dragonflies rely on the adult mosquitoes for sustenance.... If humans were to successfully eliminate mosquitoes (a highly unlikely possibility), they might eliminate  a good proportion of our fisheries and wildlife."

You can read more about Ocracoke's mosquitoes in this 2012 article by Jenny Scarboroguh in the Ocracoke Current or in this 2013 article by Connie Leinbach in the Island Free Press.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter tells the delightful story of the 19th century "Stovepipe Hat" wreck. It has been told for years in books & magazines, but it probably never happened. You can read the story (and my research) here:


  1. Anonymous7:34 AM

    Years ago, I bought a tee shirt advertising the fictitious "Ocracoke Mosquito Festival." I wore it on the ferry ride home, and a true dingbatter asked the dates of the event since the shirt didn't specify! I think I still have the shirt, which might be a true collector's item now!

  2. Anonymous10:46 AM

    cash in on a festival. mosquito island can turn this into an event. you could sell bug spray on the side. A lot of people come to Mosquito island or Bug island as it is sometimes known to outsiders for the curiosity factor. They want to see if people really live like the hermits they have heard about. A throwback to history. However the more bugs there are the more birds there are. It is a food festival to them. Birds are sloppy nasty creatures but they are easier to take than bugs. We will visit you in October. Perhaps bug free.

  3. Anonymous4:29 PM

    Would you please share details of Ocracoke's mosquito control program, Philip? I "think" I recall seeing trucks--maybe up around Avon--driving through the neighborhood streets emitting fog that I presumed was part of a mosquito control program, though I don't recall ever seeing such a thing on Ocracoke.

    And as for Anon 1046's suggestion of a possible bug-free October, we've spent Thanksgiving week's down there swatting at the pesky mosquitoes, so good luck with that.

    1. We have a spray truck that typically operates late at night after most folks are off the streets. I don't know the details (what chemicals are currently being used, how they determine when to spray, etc.). I will do some research. Look for more information in the future.

  4. Anonymous6:53 AM

    Thanks for the warning about October..we too planned a trip then but we have been informed now..

  5. Anonymous8:22 AM

    I don't think mosquitoes are ever a reason NOT to visit Ocracoke. While some may be PRESENT in November (or October as well, I presume), they are certainly not overwhelming--especially in the village, or even off the beaten trail, literally, as in the Hammock Hills Nature Trail, which we hiked several times during our visit last Thanksgiving.

    As Phillip suggested: time of day, weather conditions; all are factors in the presence of absence of mosquitoes. The point is, in my admittedly limited experience they're always around. As I said, though, I don't think they're pesky enough to warrant changing one's vacation plans.

    On the other hand, the next time we visit Portsmouth Island we may just skip the village tour and head straight to the beach. ;-)

    Even there, though, proper preparation--as in all matters--makes the situation tolerable.

    As for Ocracoke, though, I stand by my long-ago assessment: "Ocracoke, it's ALWAYS worth the trip." (And this from a guy who's got to drive about 16 hours to get there.) :-)

  6. Anonymous9:10 AM

    well I drive 8 hrs to get there. summer winter,storms etc. lets face it it's not paradise, nowhere is perfect. I don't think their mosquito control is at all effective. They might think it is but hey, just put on the spray & slap the buggers on their head and move on. If your there visiting you must be on vacation....have fun OR just don't come back. it's not rocket science. No one is holding you there. Get in the car and leave. simple. I for one don't mind slapping them. Anything bites me deserves to be slapped down. By the way in 4 more weeks I will be headed to Ocracoke. I say to those buggers, bring it on, hit me with your best shot - I am waiting for you.

  7. Anonymous7:11 PM

    my husband just bought some figs for me to try because I have never had them before.....I miss the attraction. yuck. What am I doing wrong? I thought these were suppose to be good. Please, just give me an apple or orange or banana or strawberries,or a melon - no figs!

  8. Anonymous2:59 PM

    I too am headed to Ocracoke, just bring some bug spray, no big deal. Figs, good stuff......I just saw a UNC-TV program about nc places and their local foods - they were in ocracoke, eating figs...once again, just eat them, no big deal....