Volume 22 - April 19, 2004
Eroding sliver of wire grass marsh in St. Bernard Parish.

A mosquitoe enjoying lunch on CC's arm.

Louisiana is losing a lot of valuable land and resources. Living out here these past months has really been educational for me. Our fragile wetland habitats are being threatened and lost for many different reasons and each area of south Louisiana seems to have its own set of problems and a need for particular solutions. Answers and remedies are not easy, but awareness and efforts are crucial.


The major causes of land loss are a complicated mix! Subsidence, the sinking of the land, and rising sea levels on our earth are reasons. The man made levee systems, built to protect our property have stopped the Mississippi River from building and nourishing of our land. Canals built for shipping goods, transportation, and oil and gas development are causing erosion of land and allowing salt water into large areas of our marsh that used to be fresh. Storms and hurricanes are the most dramatic forces of change on our coast. Barrier islands and marsh stop the storm surges, without them we lose our buffers. 


These major troubles and lots of minor issues plague the people at work trying to preserve and rebuild land in coastal Louisiana. Everyday CC and I realize how crucial these efforts are and we are encouraged by the interest of students, for you are Louisiana’s future.


We are enjoying the full glory of spring in the marsh. However, there is one thing in south Louisiana that is not endangered. MOSQUITOES! These pesky insects are eating us up! It is hard to find the good in a “skeeter,” but I did some research! Did you know mosquitoes have been around at least 200 million years? That is lots longer than humans! Today, there are about 3,450 species of these blood suckers and Louisiana has its share!


The evening “attacks” on the WETLAND WANDERER are becoming regular. On our last trip to a store we bought mosquito netting to hang around our bed. We have netted hats but those awful females continue to buzz and bite! Mosquitoes can smell you and the female needs your blood to make her eggs! She can double or even triple her body weight with one meal of blood! The female needs water to lay the nearly 400 eggs in one batch. Being in the “wetlands” means MOSQUITO MADNESS!



Mosquitoes lay eggs in wet places


Mosquitoes can walk on ceilings because they have sticky pads on their feet


Mosquitoes “eat” nectar from flowers and pollinate like bees


Mosquitoes can beat their wings 400 to 600 times per second


If mosquitoes seem to like you more than your friends, it is because you are sweating, breathing hard, or wearing dark clothes………..Blood seekers are drawn to these things


Females need the protein from blood for her eggs


A mosquito’s bite does not hurt because the female has a chemical in her saliva that makes the stab less painful……later the saliva causes an itchy bump and it may also cause a deadly disease


Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals of the world because the female can carry disease from person to person


Malaria, Yellow Fever, and West Nile Virus are all spread by the female’s bite


Man or beast, frog or dog south Louisiana or Alaska…….we are all the prey of the mighty mosquito!

Elegant Egrets

A Great Egret (Casmerodius albus) resting on a small branch above Bayou Teche.

Egrets are great, but Great Egrets are FABULOUS! Egrets are part of the Heron family. My very first “Critter Corner” was about the stately Great Blue Heron. Great Egrets, Casmerodius albus, were nearly wiped out by hunters seeking their beautiful feathers for hats in the early 1900’s! That would have been awful! A law was passed which stopped this feather trade and the Great Egret is abundant these days, especially in the wetlands of south Louisiana! We have seen them everyday on our marshmission.


I watched one as it patiently fished today. These guys have long legs like Shaquille O’Neil and a neck to match! The Great Egret was slow and very deliberate as he stalked his prey. He looked like a statue for the longest time then suddenly the long white neck darted out and an unsuspecting minnow was grabbed! This patient hunter just loves to eat crawfish, frogs, and small fish.


The Great Egret has black legs and feet and a yellow bill which turns an orange color during breeding season. At this time the egret gets the fancy “plume” feathers that are lacelike and spectacular. CC showed me a close-up picture of the egret during “courting” time and it had a strange lime green almost fluorescent line near its eye! COOL! These guys really know how to dress up for a date!


Great Egrets like most in the Heron family nest and raise their young in big groups or colonies. We saw a group recently building their stick and twig nests in trees above the water of a swamp. I understand that they lay their eggs in April or May and it takes a few weeks for the babies to hatch. CC has some good shots of the down covered, helpless babies. We hope to see some new babies in the nest in the next few weeks!


Most babies are nourished and cared for by their parents, and the lovely Great Egret is no exception. The stately parents hunt for food for the helpless young, but the feeding technique is unique! After eating the baby egret’s food, the parent leans down and the baby bird grasps the bill of its parent crosswise. Partially digested food is regurgitated and pumped into the baby’s throat. Sounds pretty yucky to me, but I guess everyone cannot love “moist and meaty” packets!


Springtime is a time of new life and rebirth. The fragile wetland habitats are a magical place in the season of spring!

- The problems of land loss in Louisiana are complicated and no one answer will “fix” all the problems.
- Mosquitoes have been around for millions of years and carry deadly diseases.
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1. Mosquitoes are bad in Louisiana… you have a mosquito “attack” story? I have plenty right now! Write a paragraph about your worst experience with this blood thirsty beast!

More about Mosquitoes!
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