Qikturiaq — Mosquito

As anyone who has travelled in the North knows, mosquitoes are a major nuisance to all warm-blooded animals. For a few weeks of each year, vast number of these winged creatures harass all who live in the Arctic. Although they have been living with them for many centuries, the Inuit still bear no love for these insects. Mosquitoes often figured in Inuit poems and songs. Knud Rasmussen collected this short poem in 1929:

Cold and mosquitoes
Those two pests
Come never together

As a protection from future harassment, parents sometimes placed young babies outside, naked, to be "eaten up" by mosquitoes. It was said that this treatment conferred immunity to mosquitoes and that when it grew up, the child would not be bothered by them (IOHP 150).

Although the Inuit did not like mosquitoes, that was no reason to treat them, or any other living creature, without respect. The following anecdote came at the end of a discussion on how one should treat animals. The consequences of mistreating any living being were serious.

I also have heard about a person that would take off the proboscis of a mosquito and release it afterwards in a tent. After that experience, the following year when the mosquitoes came alive again this person had to be protected by others from the mosquitoes. This was the way he was "Akkiviujuq" by the mosquitoes. This happened very recently, when we were already alive. When this individual was taken inside the tent, all the holes were secured so that no mosquitoes could enter. Above the tent it was swarming with so many mosquitoes that it appeared as if it was smoking (IOHP 094).

Mosquitoes also played a part in the Inuit calendar of observations: when the first mosquito was seen in the spring, the Inuit knew that the bearded seals were approaching the coast, beginning to enter the bays where they might be more easily killed (Randa 1994).

An ancient legend explains how mosquitoes originated as the result of improper human activities.