The tiny, but vicious “no-see-um” gnats that populate Terrebonne's salt marshes are capable of making fishermen miserable with their stinging bites and the itchy irritation that follows, lasting for hours afterward.
But when an unnamed lady sports fisherman tried to use fire to fight the stinging pests some 68 years ago on Bayou Dularge, and the solution turned into a larger problem, Courier editors ignored the painful gnat bites and turned their attention to her carelessness:
“Thoughtfulness and carelessness may have little in common, but they are both illustrated well by a series of events which took place on Lower Bayou Dularge recently, in the vicinity of a community of fishing camps.
“Frank Lofaso, avid Terrebonne sportsman, gave us the report of the events which took place near the spot where he and others were fishing.”
The details were published under the editorial headline “Dangerous Gnat-Chaser,” in the March 25, 1950 issue of the Houma Courier:
“A woman was fishing from a boat in the prairie. She was obviously disturbed by flying gnats and apparently to eradicate the discomfiture, she lit a prairie fire so the smoke might chase away the bugs.
“Unfortunately, however, she not only chased away the bugs but almost leveled the camps.
“The fisherman left before the fire neared the camps, but several groups of fishermen, recognizing the possible danger, stopped, and with all hands working, started fighting the blaze with sticks and containers of water.
“Other considerate bayou travelers, including women, jumped from their boats and joined the brigade of fire-fighters.
“One of the biggest factors in the saving of the camps, possibly, were five-gallon buckets and a 10-gallon garbage can which could be used easily and quickly in scooping up water and throwing it on the flames.
"Narrow-necked bottles were also available and put to use but were not nearly as effective since they required time to fill and empty.
“Which brings us to the morals of this tale of events:
“1. Gnats can be chased away easily enough by lighting a fire in a bucket or some other container, which the fisherman could keep in his boat at all times for just such a need. Prairie fires, obviously enough, are dangerous and hard to control. Property damage and even injury could result from them.
“2. Camp owners should keep on hand buckets which could be used for extinguishing a fire with water. Suitable fire extinguishers, also, are always a wonderful safeguard. Fishermen with boats could use the same bucket designed for the gnat-chasing fire as a container for water in extinguishing such a prairie blaze.
“3. In six words: Be cautious! Be prepared! Be considerate!”
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