Otus the Head Cat

Pine Bluff skeeter video goes vi­ral on YouTube.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE -

Dear Otus,

Yes­ter­day on Good Morn­ing Amer­ica, Lara Spencer had some fun at Arkansas’ ex­pense. She played that YouTube video that has gone vi­ral — the one with the ter­ri­fied vis­i­tors in Pine Bluff. The way she went on and on, you’d think Lara had never seen mosquitoes in her life.

What’s up with peo­ple com­ing to Arkansas and be­ing shocked at our na­tive flow­ers and fawns? — Lorem Ip­sum, DeWitt

Dear Lorem,

It was wholly a plea­sure to hear from you, although I’m al­most cer­tain you mean “flora and fauna,” not “flow­ers and fawns.”

Flora was the Ro­man god­dess of flow­ers, and Fauna is the fem­i­nine coun­ter­part to Fanus, a Ro­man wood­land de­ity usu­ally iden­ti­fied with Pan.

To­gether, they are Latin terms that re­fer to the na­tive plants and an­i­mals of a cer­tain re­gion. Flow­ers and fawns would re­strict that to the re­pro­duc­tive struc­ture found in an­giosperms, and baby deer in the first year of life.

In ad­di­tion, we need to give Lara Spencer (pro­nounced LAIR-uh) a break. The af­fa­ble 48-year-old TV per­son­al­ity (real name Lara Chris­tine Von See­len) doesn’t ac­tu­ally come up with the items for her daily “Pop News” GMA seg­ments, es­pe­cially the “Trend­ing Now” videos that end each one.

There is an army of ABC staff mem­bers whose sole job is to make the on-air per­son­al­i­ties, es­pe­cially Ge­orge Stephanopou­los, look good, if not taller. Ge­orge and Robin Roberts are the ones with grav­i­tas and ca­chet on GMA. Lara is there to take care of the lighter stuff.

The mos­quito video cur­rently mak­ing the rounds is cer­tainly among the lighter stuff.

When I checked YouTube at 10: 03 Fri­day morn­ing, the vi­ral video had tal­lied 14,334,075 views — more than half of them since Wed­nes­day when GMA aired the 58-sec­ond bowd­ler­ized ver­sion where the Innbilt fam­ily from Mankato, Minn. (pop. 41,044), en­coun­ters their first swarm of Arkansas Delta mosquitoes.

The fam­ily mem­bers — Knut, Kirstin and the kid­dies, Kristof­fer and Karin, along with their chi­wee­nie, Mr. Barky — were on va­ca­tion last week­end and headed to Destin, Fla., when they de­cided to de­tour from Isle of Lula Casino Re­sort Ho­tel in Mis­sis­sippi to visit the Gov. Mike Huck­abee Delta Rivers Na­ture Cen­ter in Pine Bluff.

Their pur­pose was in­tended to be ed­u­ca­tional, but the les­son they learned prob­a­bly wasn’t what they had in mind.

For those who haven’t seen the video, it shows the fam­ily en­ter­ing the out­door hu­mid­ity pod ex­hibit ( there’s an ac­tual pod held down by net­ting). In a few sec­onds, there are blood-cur­dling screams and coarse lan­guage.

Mr. Barkey, who is half chi­huahua and half dachs­hund and weighs 7 pounds soak­ing wet, is seen float­ing about 3 feet in the air, tail wag­ging and his leash trail­ing on the ground.

The pooch had stum­bled too close to the stag­nant en­vi­ron­men­tal pond in front of the cen­ter and stirred up a nest of Arkansas Delta mosquitoes (Psorophora cil­i­ata arkan­sia) newly sprung from the lar­val stage. Sev­eral dozen of the in­sects had latched onto Mr. Barkey and taken flight.

The su­per-size mega skit­ters, also known as gallinip­pers, are a com­mon sight in the Arkansas Delta in sum­mer, es­pe­cially af­ter heavy rains. They can be 120 times big­ger than typ­i­cal Asian tiger mosquitoes and are fre­quently hunted with bird shot.

A fry­ing pan full of the suc­cu­lent crit­ters is con­sid­ered a del­i­cacy. Un­for­tu­nately, the gallinip­per was hunted al­most to ex­tinc­tion in the early 20th cen­tury be­fore be­ing pro­tected by law un­til 1964.

As seen in the video, Mr. Barkey thought it was great sport, but the Innbilts were hys­ter­i­cal. They were wail­ing and throw­ing rocks at the bugs. Kirstin was shel­ter­ing the kids as if they were next on the menu.

As na­tive Arkansans know, gallinip­pers rarely at­tack hu­mans. The last re­ported in­ci­dent was in 1954 near Du­mas and only re­sulted in su­per­fi­cial wounds.

The video ends when an alert Delta Cen­ter em­ployee waded into the shal­low pond and fetched Mr. Barkey from midair. The skeeters scat­tered, their wings mak­ing lit­tle iri­des­cent rain­bow pat­terns in the dap­pled sun­light.

If you missed Good Morn­ing Amer­ica, you can see the hi­lar­i­ous video at youtube. com/watch?v=hvsJX7AztTY.

Lara, a na­tive of ritzy Long Is­land, N.Y., where bugs are not al­lowed, ended her seg­ment with a rather un­called for snarky quip about the in­fa­mous Arkansas ticks and chig­gers.

Un­til next time, Kalaka re­minds you that no mat­ter how cute they are as pu­pae, mosquitoes do not make good house pets.

This Arkansas Delta mos­quito, also know as a gallinip­per, was pho­tographed on a bench arm­rest out­side the Delta Rivers Na­ture Cen­ter in Pine Bluff.

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