Were the Calusa Indians so feared as a people that even the mosquitoes did not mess with them? Or was it a sign of Calusa manhood to walk around, as Hemingway would say, as a “moveable feast”? To what degree mosquitoes were annoying in their day we cannot be sure, but we do know they had ways of dealing with the little pest that are still used today.
Did the Calusa chose Pineland and Useppa Island as places to reside because of the almost constant breezes off the water, their answer to Mosquito Control? Maybe that also explains why the Calusa were mainly fishermen and gatherers, and not growers. What about those times they would travel away from the water? Covering in mud may been a good way to go. Mud also is a great way to clean and treat the bites. They also had some other options:
- Pennyroyal, as well as many other herbs in the mint family, are also natural insect repellents.
- Rosemary, Lemongrass, Clove, Geranium, Garlic all have essential oils that can be rubbed or extracted to benefit from their natural pest repellent properties.
- Cedar wood shavings, or the oils removed, is one of the best insect repellents there is.
- The castor bean, and the oil that can be boiled out, is also an excellent insect repellent. In fact, one of the first crops attempted on Sanibel was castor beans.
How the first settlers dealt with the bug issue will be covered here.