Sunday, September 2, 2012

What? No Bugs in Tahoe?

In the Midwest, you will see a popular T-shirt that shows a picture of a large Anopheles Mosquito. Above the amplified, scary-looking bloodsucker, it says, “Minnesota State Bird.”
After we moved to Tahoe in 1990, we'd periodically hear people say things like, “I was at a barbecue last night, and I got bit by two mosquitoes!”
After hearing comments like this, a Midwesterner is tempted to respond, “Mosquitoes aren't really bad until they are swarming so thick that you can't breathe without inhaling them.”
T-Shirt from
One of the amazing things about Tahoe is that it has an arid summer and the summer nights get very chilly. Further, there is little flat land that collects standing water where mosquitoes and other bugs breed. The result is a dearth of mosquitoes as well as other bugs.
Yes, we still have a few significant bugs. I remember the first time my wife was doing some planting in Tahoe and she showed me a bug in the dirt the likes of which neither of us had ever seen. It was scary-looking enough to make your heart flutter and large enough that it looked like it could fly away carrying a small cat in its clutches. I looked it up in my bug books, necessary research tools for writing one of my characters, Street Casey, who is an entomologist.
The bug turned out to be a Jerusalem Cricket, otherwise known as a potato bug. They are as harmless as they are imposing. They are also somewhat rare, and they never show up in your kitchen or bedroom. Like the best bugs, they stay outside in the dirt where they belong.
There are a few other bugs in Tahoe. We have a good supply of carpenter ants, which usually, though not always, stay out of your house. As with most places, termites can also be a problem.
Probably the most common annoyances are spiders, especially the Turret spiders, but they don't bother you unless you are a carpenter ant or other insect, which they feed on.
And that's about it.
If you take the total amount of bug encounters that a Tahoe person encounters in a lifetime, you might add up to one week's worth of bug encounters in the Midwest or other similar places with wet summers and a flat landscape to collect the puddles that are perfect for bugs to lay their eggs.

Tahoe has few flat, wet areas that provide good bug-breeding grounds.
Our lakes (yes, we have lots of lakes) aren't good for bugs because they are too cold.
Bottom line is, Tahoe has very few bugs, and that is another reason why it is such a wonderful place to live or vacation.


  1. I had a Jerusalem cricket on my bedroom floor. It woke me up with a scrabbling noise as it tried to find a way out. I have no idea how it got in but it wasn't the first one I found in the house.

    1. Not sure I'd like them in my house! They're big enough to rearrange the furniture while you're gone!