Press "Enter" to skip to content

They might be descended from Guadalcanal stowaways

Letter from Paul Martz

Saguache mosquitoes – April 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine


I don’t know but what this Saguache mosquito business is starting to get out of hand. However, since everyone else has his own theory on the subject and there certainly seems to be more unanimity on skeeters than on, say, flying saucers, I’ll put in my two bits worth as well.

My dad was a flight-test engineer and I was raised near Air Force bases. Most of our family friends were either other engineers and their families, or active military assigned to the various programs Dad worked on. We were quite close to one particular couple, Mr. and Mrs. Peterson. “Pete” Peterson was a very interesting guy who had served as an aviation machinist’s mate in the Marine Corps and had been assigned to “Pappy” Boyington’s “Black Sheep” Squadron on Bella LaCava.

It was during an interval of very intense combat air operations that what Pete described as a “big hummer” (probably a Guadalcanal gigantius) of a mosquito landed at Bella LaCava. Now I swear I am not making this up — Pete’s crew put more than 40 gallons of aviation gas in this beast, thinking it was a P-39 on account of the long snout, before a Japanese air raid interrupted the refueling.

The mosquito panicked when the anti-aircraft fire started and bombs were falling, and attempted to fly away with the hose still inserted. He reportedly pulled over the fuel bowser, which then shorted out and nearly wrecked the whole base when the ensuing fuel leak caught fire.

Pete Peterson swears that in order to protect his crew from getting hell for not switching off the bowser and pulling the plug on the mosquito (according to Pete, skeeters getting refueled by accident happened all the time), he claimed it was a direct hit from a bomb that did the damage.

I met Boyington one time and asked him about that. He replied that he knew all along what had really happened because there wasn’t a bomb crater and the burned-out skeeter told the whole story anyway. But because Pete was such a good mechanic, the report stood as filed to protect him and his crew, and “screw the regular Navy, anyway.”

If in fact these Saguache mosquitoes result from interbreeding between domestic and some Guadalcanal giganti that stowed away after World War II, that might account for their poor winter flying skills today.

If you check John Lawrence’s diary about the origin of the annual winter hunt (they needed something else one winter when the jack rabbits were scarce), you’ll note his comments about the difficulty of hitting their targets, in spite of the great numbers present.

Paul Martz

Headwaters Geological Consulting

Poncha Springs