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YIKES! What's THIS?

Here's the story. In summer, insects in the Arctic bring misery to its inhabitants. Their victims are people, birds, caribou and even the grizzly and polar bears!

When the ice melts, the bears are forced ashore into mosquito country, and sometimes they dig dens in the earth to try to escape both the heat and the biting bugs.

The caribou herds that roam the tundra don't have such digging skills, and the mosquitoes drive the poor creatures to near-madness.

Mosquitoes appear in late spring, just as the caribou shed their long winter hair. The pests can easily draw blood at this time, and caribou try to avoid them any way they can. They run, stand in windy areas, move to snow and ice patches that are too cool for the insects, or venture out into lakes or shallow salt water.

The running, blood loss, and inability to spend time eating all cause caribou to lose weight when they need to be getting fat for the coming winter.

Then there's the warble flies! The fly lays eggs on the hairs of the caribouís legs and lower body. The eggs hatch into larvae that "dig in" and travel under the skin to the caribouís back (Picture: TOP). The warbles grow there until early summer, when they break through the skin and drop to the ground.

Larvae are yellowish-white, oval-shaped grubs about 1 inch / 2Ĺ cm long (Picture: RIGHT), and over 1,000 warbles have been found on a single caribou! Ouch!

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Library: Arctic, Arctic Animals, Land
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Guide to Arctic Sunrise & Sunset
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A Guide to Arctic Sunrise and Sunset GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?

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