Of Burdock and Super Mosquitoes

By Elmer Beauregard

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Summer is in full bloom here in Minnesota and for me that includes a lot of weeds, chief among them is the “Greater Burdock” or Arctium lappa also incorrectly known as “Wild Rhubarb”.  It is called the latter because it looks like Rhubarb when it first comes up but as summer progresses it can get as high as 9′ high with stalks like small trees that will stop a 26 HP garden tractor dead in its tracks, evidently.

mower1aThe bur of the Greater Burdock was the inspiration for Velcro because it’s sticks like glue to almost anything that brushes against it like: clothing, socks, shoelaces and worst of all horse mane and tail, which is why it is my job to mow it down every year.

This year because of the wet spring and summer we’re having, it got out of control. I’m sure the increased levels of CO2 didn’t hurt either.

If the bur from this plant inspired Velcro, the stock must have inspired Kevlar because it is incredibly strong. If you are successful in running one over with a lawn mower it usually just pops back up with a few less leaves on it. You can try chopping down with a hatchet or axe but the fibers in the stalk just bend and you can chop for a long time before it is severed.

ShovelStalkThe best way to take them out is to use a spade, place it about 2″ way form the base of the trunk and angle it toward the roots, then with all you might jump on the spade and it will sever the tap root a couple of inches below the surface and the bush can now be removed.

It is important to cut the root below the surface because if you leave any sticking out above the surface the plant will just regrow in short order, this is why I call it the “Devil Weed.”

So there I was in the hot sun, sweating like crazy, jumping up and down like a madman, trying to eradicate hundreds of the dreaded weed all the while swatting at the mosquitoes that Minnesota is famous for and I said to myself, “at least these aren’t those Super Mosquitoes like they have in Florida”.

If you haven’t heard about it there is a new strain of mosquitoes called “Super Mosquitoes” in Florida which are 20 times larger then a normal mosquito. Besides being huge they are said to be able to sting through clothing and when they do it is supposed to feel like you’re being poked with a knife.

As I was think about this I came to the sudden realization that at least three standard Minnesota variety mosquitoes were stinging me through my sweaty T-Shirt and “knife pokes” I felt was a pretty apt description of what I was experiencing.

article-0-187C40BF000005DC-60_634x463Later I looked at the Super Mosquito article again and this time I guess I wasn’t surprised at how big the super sized mosquito was but by how small the typical Florida mosquito was.

“What does this have to do with global warming?”  you may ask. Well nothing yet that I can see, unbelievably they aren’t blaming this infestation on global warming yet, but I’m sure they eventually will.

As a rule they do say that Malaria, which is carried by mosquito, will increase because of Global Warming but I think this news proves the opposite. The further north you go the worse mosquitoes are. Caribou herds in Northern Canada are driven crazy by mosquitoes and as we can see by this story, what Florida calls a “Super Mosquito” is actually just a typical everyday Minnesota mosquito.

Which brings me to my final point, I think this is where “Minnesota Nice” comes from. This morning while commuting to work, traffic was a nightmare and I got cut off by someone. Had this happened in some other metropolis I’m sure there would be hand gestures and tongue wagging but here in Minnesota, I just smiled and waved. Because hey, I’m sitting in a comfortable air conditioned car and I’m NOT trying to chop down giant demonic weeds with a shovel with sweat dripping in my eyes all the while getting stabbed with tiny knife pokes by giant mutant mosquitoes through my sweaty clothing.