At first, you try to pretend it’s not happening. It’s just an isolated incident, you tell yourself, and hope that’s true. Such a mob isn’t typical for our village, you say, so it’s bound to let up. You wait, hoping you’ll be proved right.
But as the days becomes weeks, and the problem doesn’t let up, you realise you have to face it. You’ve been lying awake at night, anxiously waiting for the problem to start again, and even when you do sleep, you wake repeatedly. The mob has penetrated every corner of the community, including your dreaming.
This morning, when Laura the cleaning lady came, I figured she might know what the consensus was in the village. Did anyone know how we could stop the ongoing attacks?
But she just shrugged.
“Señor, all you can do is fumigate. We did, and it helped.”
Okay, then. I just don’t recall this many mosquitoes outside of rainy season before. A bunch of them spend the night behind my toaster, and arise in a throng when I make breakfast. Punky the dog, who sleeps in the kitchen, occasionally goes frantic, trying to scratch the base of his tail (their favourite target) or his elbows. Both are places where his fur has not yet grown back in after a recent haircut.
There are several different kinds of them. There’s the annoying-whine kind, the more annoying- whine-kind (which sounds like a very small, complaining, overtired three-year-old) and another one that I call the Stealth Skeeter, because it doesn’t make any sound. Its bite only irritates for a relatively short time, but at 2.30 in the morning, if two of them have found their way under my mosquito net, their combined efforts can keep me awake for an hour.
I swatted one yesterday morning, which is usually difficult because mosquitoes have what I figure is the world’s best capture-avoidance system. They fly in random patterns, and seem to positively anticipate swatting. This one, though had been feasting on my blood, and was heavy and tired, so I was able to trap it between my palms.
The result was … eeewww. Especially so before I was properly awake.
Mosquitoes have an extraordinary mechanism for getting under our skin. They don’t, we’re told, want to be annoying, but I have my doubts on that. Somebody wanted mosquitoes to be unpleasant for mammals, for sadistic reasons beyond my comprehension, and they’re very good at their job. Before I resorted to the mosquito net, I was bitten a dozen times in one night, which has never happened before except once or twice during the rainy season.
A picture, in case you didn’t know what one looks like close up.
Laura says the hot weather is causing them to breed, but we get hot weather in March and April every year. They supposedly need water for their larvae, but there’s hardly any around. I wonder if they’ve mutated and can manage without the old methods.
There is mosquito-borne dengue fever in this part of the world, but it’s not very prevalent above the lower areas. Malaria has not yet made it to this part of the country, though there’s evidence that it is occurring at increasingly higher altitudes as time passes, and certain species move into what were cooler zones.
“Give us time,” the beasties seem to be saying. “We’re taking over at our own speed.”
And before someone suggests it – no, citronella does nothing to deter a determined mosquito. So, I’m going tomorrow to buy some nasty, toxic insecticide. Punky needs it, I’ve decided.
And heck, so do I.