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Paul Bunyan and the Mosquitoes

Have you ever encountered the Mosquito of the North Country? You thought they were pretty well-developed animals with keen appetites, didn’t you? Then you can appreciate what Paul Bunyan was up against when he was surrounded by the vast swarms of the giant ancestors of the present race of mosquitoes, getting their first taste of human victims. The present mosquito is but a degenerate remnant of the species. Now they rarely weigh more than a pound or measure more than fourteen or fifteen inches from tip to tip.

Paul had to keep his men and oxen in the camps with doors and windows barred. Men armed with pike-poles and axes fought off the insects that tore the shakes off the roof in their efforts to gain entrance. The big buck mosquitoes fought among themselves and trampled down the weaker members of the swarm and to this alone Paul Bunyan and his crew owe their lives.

Paul determined to conquer the mosquitoes before another season arrived. He thought of the big Bumble Bees back home and sent for several yoke of them. These, he hoped would destroy the mosquitoes. Sourdough Sam brought out two pair of the bees, overland on foot. There was no other way to travel for the flight of the beasts could not be controlled. Their wings were strapped with surcingles, they checked their stingers with Sam and walking shoes were provided for them. Sam brought them through without losing a bee.

The cure was worse than the original trouble. The Mosquitoes and the Bees made a hit with each other. They soon intermarried and their offspring, as often happens, were worse than their parents. They had stingers fore-and-aft and could get you coming or going.

Their bee blood caused their downfall in the long run. Their craving for sweets could only be satisfied by sugar and molasses in large quantities, for what is a flower to an insect with a ten-gallon stomach? One day the whole tribe flew across Lake Superior to attack a fleet of ships bringing sugar to Paul’s camps. They destroyed the ships but ate so much sugar they could not fly, and all were drowned.

One pair of the original bees were kept at headquarters camp and provided honey for the pancakes for many years.


Citation: Laughead, William B. The Marvelous Exploits of Paul Bunyan: As Told in the in the Camps of the White Pine Lumbermen for Generations. Chicago: The Red River Lumber Company, 1922. Edited by S.E. Schlosser. This story is in the public domain and is part of the cited work.

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.