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Vermont Public’s weekly dose of all things environment.

Out There: Mosquito season

This is the web version of our email newsletter, Out There! Sign up to get our weekly dose of all things environment — from creatures you might encounter on your next stroll, to a critical look at the state's energy transition, plus ways to take part in community science and a roundup of local outdoor events.

It’s Thursday, August 10. Here’s what’s on deck:

  • Weekend meteor shower
  • A year’s worth of phosphorus in a week 
  • Half of a cross-state rail trail reopens

But first,

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Vermont Public's biweekly dose of all things environment.


Twice as many mosquitoes as normal

Six black and white mosquito sketches with red lasers coming out of their eyes on a pink background.
Sophie Stephens / Vermont Public
Among most mosquito species, only the females bite. Males are pollinators – they feed on nectar.

We’ve been living in our bug nets this summer, and it’s not just in our heads — mosquito numbers are way higher than normal. What gives?

  • 📈Before July floods, state scientists were already documenting more mosquitoes than usual — about twice the average they’ve counted in traps across the state since 2009. 
  • 💧Since the flooding, mosquito numbers have gone up even more. It might be that they’re taking advantage of newly formed puddles to lay their eggs. The more flooding we get, the more mosquitoes have a chance to breed in new places.  
  • 🏥The good news? There hasn’t been an increase in reports of mosquito-borne diseases. 
  • 🦟West Nile virus has been detected in two mosquito populations in Grand Isle and Addison Counties, but this isn’t unusual. 
    • “We’ve been finding West Nile virus for many years in all counties of Vermont,” says Patti Casey, who leads Vermont’s mosquito surveillance program
  • 👖Keep yourself safe: wear long sleeves and pants, use insect repellent, avoid being out at dawn and dusk, you can treat your clothes ahead of time with Permethrin (it lasts several washes).

In other news

☄️Wish upon a shooting star: The next few days are the peak of this year’s Perseid meteor shower. The Perseids occur every summer when Earth passes through a dense patch of space ice and rocks left behind by comets. Sky gazers can expect to see anywhere from 60 to 100 meteors per hour. For the best viewing,go out in the early morning, stay away from lights and look straight up. Fun fact: these meteors are smaller than a garden pea.

🌊It’s been a wet summer and all of that water has to go somewhere. A lot of it has been flowing to Lake Champlain along with dirt, debris, sewage and other toxins. Experts with the Lake Champlain Sea Grant say, in some cases, rivers dumped more than a year’s worth of phosphorus into the lake over the course of a week.

🚨 Never thought about a dam before July’s floods? You’re not alone. Vermont has around 1,000. Many are old, and not in great shape. Federal data from before the floods show 63 dams in Vermont were in poor condition and posed “high” or “significant hazards.” That means if they failed, the water released would likely threaten lives or property. We know that some small dams failed or were washed away during the floods but officials are still gathering information about how the structures fared.

🚲 50 miles reopened, 40 still to go: About half of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail is open for business — the ~30-mile section from Swanton to Cambridge Junction, and the ~20 miles from St. Johnsbury to Walden. The middle of the trail, from Cambridge and Walden, remains closed and might not reopen until next year.

In your backyard

A drawing of a gray, red and white hummingbird and a green and gray hummingbird drinking from red flowers.
Reed Nye
Vermont Public
Hummingbirds have the highest metabolic rate of any animal, and can migrate for hundreds of miles without stopping. You can only find one species in Vermont – the ruby-throated hummingbird. They’re prolific – an estimated 34 million live in North America, according to survey data.

Get out there

🦅 Peregrine falcon chicks have learned to fly — which means many cliffside trails in Vermont have reopened to hikers and climbers including trails at Bolton Notch, Snake Mountain in Addison, Fairlee Palisades, Mount Horrid in Rochester and Red Rocks Park in South Burlington. This season, biologists and volunteers found peregrine falcon pairs at over 50 cliffs.

🐦Casual birding: For the rest of the month, the folks at North Branch Nature Center are leading free birding walks every Friday morning for all experience levels. This week, they’re meeting at Berlin Pond. They’ll cover about a quarter mile on a hard-packed dirt road with several benches along the route.

🦋 Catch some butterflies: Help collect data for the Vermont Butterfly Atlas with biologists at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies along the river in Waitsfield next Tuesday. The outing will end at a nearby brewery.

🎣 Fish with the experts — The state invites people who already have their own fishing equipment and some experience to join a game warden at the Little River Dam in Waterbury next Thursday evening, or head out for a introduction to fishing clinic at a backcountry pond in Mount Tabor next month.

One last thing

Still time to plant for a fall harvest

A wooden crate set on a grassy lawn is full of garden vegetables, like beets, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers.
After your home garden had some flooding or if it hasn't produced well so far this summer, try planting or replanting now. Leafy greens like lettuces and arugula and root crops like beets and carrots planted now will produce a small fall harvest to enjoy in September and October.

Whether your garden was ruined by flooding or not, certain plants make great candidates for a second home garden crop: leafy greens, arugula, swiss chard, kale and root crops like beets and carrots will have time to mature by October.

  • Check for space in your garden (maybe empty spots where cucumber plants didn’t thrive or where lettuces used to be)
  • Look for short-season varieties of root crops like Mokum and Napoli carrot
  • Some nurseries and garden centers have transplants that can give you a head start.
  • To plant, put down a fresh layer of compost, then add in transplants or seeds.
  • Keep them covered with micromesh to keep insects and animals out, but lets water and sunshine in.

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Vermont Public's biweekly dose of all things environment.


Thanks for reading! If you have ideas for events we should feature, critters, fungi or plants you want to learn more about, or other feedback, we'd love to hear from you! Just email us.

Credits: This week’s edition was put together by Lexi Krupp and Brittany Patterson with lots of help from the Vermont Public team, including graphics by Laura Nakasaka.

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