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Main > United States folktales > Fairy tale "The Monster Mosquito"

The Monster Mosquito

They have some pretty big mosquitoes in New Jersey and on Long Island, but, if report of their ancestry is true, they have degenerated in size and voracity; for the grandfather of all mosquitoes used to live in the neighborhood of Fort Onondaga, New York, and sallying out whenever he was hungry, would eat an Indian or two and pick his teeth with their ribs. The red men had no arms that could prevail against it, but at last the Holder of the Heavens, hearing their cry for aid, came down and attacked the insect. Finding that it had met its match, the mosquito flew away so rapidly that its assailant could hardly keep it in sight. It flew around the great lake, then turned eastward again. It sought help vainly of the witches that brooded in the sink-holes, or Green Lakes (near Janesville, New York), and had reached the salt lake of Onondaga when its pursuer came up and killed it, the creature piling the sand into hills in its dying struggles.

As its blood poured upon the earth it became small mosquitoes, that gathered about the Holder of the Heavens and stung him so sorely that he half repented the service that he had done to men. The Tuscaroras say that this was one of two monsters that stood on opposite banks of the Seneca River and slew all men that passed. Hiawatha killed the other one. On their reservation is a stone, marked by the form of the Sky Holder, that shows where he rested during the chase, while his tracks were until lately seen south of Syracuse, alternating with footprints of the mosquito, which were shaped like those of a bird, and twenty inches long. At Brighton, New York, where these marks appeared, they were reverentially renewed by the Indians for many years.

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