In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we, here at Mosquito Squad of Southern Wisconsin, thought it would be appropriate to retell the tales of how mosquitoes came to be, according to the stories told by a few different native nations. Mosquitoes are not a new nuisance on this Earth, so it’s fun to explore the stories of how the mosquito came to be, according to native legends. We will be sharing three different stories from nations across the continent to explain why these annoying bugs are pestering us to this day.
We’ll first start with the Haudenosaunee (hoe-dee-no-SHOW-nee), commonly referred to as the Iroquois. These folks are from the northern parts of the midwest of the United States with their borders crossing over into southern Canada. This is a story filled with revenge, bravery, and gruesome battle. Here’s how the Haudenosaunee tell the origin of the Mosquito…
According to legend, a long, long time ago, there used to be two mosquitoes that lived on opposite shores of a river. These mosquitoes weren’t your ordinary minuscule pests, they were massive; each was the size of a pine tree! Because of these giant insects, the Haudenosaunee people were having trouble traveling down the river on their canoes. As they traveled through the mosquito’s territory, the giant insects would swoop down with their beaks, killing many canoeists and devouring them. The Haudenosaunee tried to change their routes and avoid the mosquitoes altogether, but no matter what they tried the giant bugs sought out their prey wherever they went. Eventually, the Haudenosaunee had enough. It was time to get rid of the mosquitoes, so they organized a war party to hunt and destroy the evil insects.
Two great canoes carried twenty warriors down the river to where the mosquitoes were expected. They were armed with bows, war clubs, and hunting knives ready to dispatch the giant monsters. But before the warriors could strike, two huge shadows blocked out the sun, and a giant beak stuck through one of the canoes sinking it and the passengers. The remaining warriors cried out and filled the sky with arrows. In a moment of fierce battle, more than half of the attack force had been killed by the mosquitoes. As a final act of desperation, the warriors took cover in the trees and surrounded the giant monsters. Unable to get through the thick brush, the mosquitoes could not retaliate against the onslaught of arrows the Haudenosaunee launched from the trees. Before long the mosquitoes fell upon the ground deeply wounded, their flesh pierced by all the arrows. Seizing this opportunity, the warriors emerged from the forest and struck the mosquitoes with their clubs over and over until the monsters’ bodies were no more.
However, the warriors could only celebrate their victory briefly. From the blood of the massive insects emerged a swarm of tiny mosquitoes buzzing and pestering around the warriors. Like their giant counterparts, these new pests were also fond of human blood and to this day continue to bother and bite people in retribution for the attack on their ancestors by the Haudenosaunee.
Next, we’ll travel to the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America and hear the origin of the mosquito as told by the Tlingit (TLIN-git) Nation. Now while this story isn’t as violent as the previous one, it still deals with the struggle of a man to avoid becoming the lunch of a giant. Here’s how the Tlingit tell the origin of the Mosquito…
Long ago there once was a giant who loved to eat humans. He would eat their flesh, drink their blood, and savor his favorite part - the human heart. The people were scared and worried that if the giant continued at his current pace of eating their people there wouldn’t be any left! One man bravely stepped up and said he knew how to kill the monster, so he went to where the giant was last seen and laid down pretending to be dead.
The giant soon came upon the man lying in the middle of the path and thought how easy the humans are making it for him. Feeling that the body was still warm, the giant was excited by the tasty meal this human will make and couldn't wait to roast his heart. The giant picked the man up and brought his meal home.
The giant dropped the man by the fireplace but quickly realized he didn’t have any firewood to cook the man over and left to get some. The man took this opportunity to search the giant's home for a knife to kill the giant. As soon as he found one, the giant’s son entered the home! The man quickly held the knife to the small giant's throat and demanded that he reveal the location of his father's heart. Scared, he told the man that his father’s heart is located in his left heel.
At that moment, the giant returned with firewood ready to have a tasty meal when all of a sudden the man stabbed the large knife deep into his left heel. The monster let out a horrific cry and fell dead. With his dying breath the giant laughed and told the man that even though he is dead, he will keep eating you and the rest of the humans forever. The man, worried the giant's words were true, quickly cut the giant up into pieces and burned each one in the fire. Once the fire died, the man took the ashes of the giant and scattered them in the wind successfully defeating the giant and saving his village - or so he thought. The cloud of ash suddenly began moving against the wind, each particle of ash had turned into a mosquito! From the cloud of newly formed mosquitoes, the giant’s voice boomed, “I’ll eat you people until the end of time!” At that moment the man, who thought he had won, felt a small bite on his arm as a mosquito started sucking his blood.
Our final stop on our journey of learning the origins of the mosquito takes us further north in Alaska with the Yup’ik (yoop-eek) Nation. This story begins with how the whole world was created by Dotson’sa, or Great Raven, and ends in a fit of jealousy. Here’s how the Yup’ik tell the origin of the Mosquito…
A long time ago the world was very different from how we know it today. Giant animals roamed the earth and the world was filled with magic so the animals could all talk to each other. One day Dotson’sa came to Raven and told him to make a large raft. Raven began his task right away since he knew it would take quite some time to build. Once he was finished, it began to rain. Dotson’sa came to Raven once more and instructed him to gather all of the animals in pairs and make sure they had food as well. Again, Raven began his task right away since he knew it would be difficult to accomplish. When all of the animals were on the raft, it started to rain even more, eventually flooding the world.
The rain poured and poured until one day it stopped. At that time, Raven asked some seagulls to fly in every direction to find some land but they soon discovered that there was only water. As time passed the flood waters started to retreat and Raven asked Muskrat to swim down to the ocean floor and make an island. Muskrat got started right away and began piling up mud until eventually, an island formed!
Using his magic, Dotson’sa started to cover the newly formed island with berries, trees, and plants. Next, he made lakes, ponds, and rivers through the low spots in the land. And now that there was land, Dotson’sa decided to make Man. At first, he considered making man from stone but knowing if he did they would never die, he decided instead to use clay. Once Man was made, Dotson’sa made Woman so they could wed and continue Life together. Raven saw Man and Woman together and decided he wanted a wife as well. He tried to marry one of the women but the men refused to let him and took the woman away from Raven. This made him incredibly mad! Raven took some dried leaves and crushed them up in a bag. He then threw the contents into the wind and out flew a large cloud of mosquitoes! Millions of these tiny pests began biting and stinging the men and continue to bother us today all because Raven was jealous he could not marry a woman.
It’s been some time since mosquitoes first came around but within that time we’ve been able to figure out how to protect ourselves from these pesky insects. Thankfully it doesn’t involve fighting giants or hails of slings and arrows! With over 15 years of experience, Mosquito Squad of Southern Wisconsin can help protect your family and pets from modern-day mosquitoes. We use our Traditional Barrier Treatment to offer proactive protection throughout the season. Call Mosquito Squad of Southern Wisconsin at (630) 521-3303 and ask about getting set up next season with our original and guaranteed mosquito control!