It might be time to retire that "Minnesota State Bird" T-shirt with the mosquito on it.
In a recent survey of "America's Buggiest Cities," the Twin Cities couldn't even crack the top 25. This should be good news, but in the Land of 10,000 Boasts About How Bad Our Bugs Are, the result could be construed as a biting rebuke.
Southern cities dominated; the highest-rated locale above the Mason-Dixon line was Providence, R.I., at No. 21. Tampa, New Orleans and Houston topped the list, with the Twin Cities area sitting at No. 30.
The criteria included climate conditions supporting infestation, insect-control purchases, Google searches for "mosquito" and a customer survey at bestplaces.net.
The best we could do was having the second-most respondents (63.7 percent) say that biting bugs "are most likely to ruin their summer trip, vs. other natural factors," said Jam Stewart, spokeswoman for SC Johnson, which sponsored the Off! survey.
While many of us take pride in our insect infestations, a couple of officials reveled in the news.
"We've been trying to knock that down for 50 years, so it's nice to see this," said Mike McLean of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District. "People tend to take for granted that mosquito levels aren't all that intense."
Added Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak: "I'll take a bright, sunny, zero-degree day skiing through Wirth Park over an overcast, subtropical, swamp-like day in any of these buggier cities."
But this summer might get us back in the running for mosquito glory: Our spring was so warm and wet that the Control District already has treated about a year's worth of breeding areas.
Even so, we have a ways to go to get back to where we were in 1900. In a letter at the Minnesota Historical Society, 15-year-old Maude Baumann wrote during her family's covered-wagon migration across Minnesota: "I can't hardly write on account of the mosquitoes. They're bigger than elephants."