My loathing for and fascination with mosquitoes is on-going and unending.
This is what the pharmacist said to me before I left Seattle:
Here is a year’s supply of doxycycline. Take one tablet every day starting two days before entering the malaria risk area, and for four weeks after leaving. Not three weeks. Do you want to get malaria? Four weeks.
Sitting in Karen’s living room, scratching mosquito bites on my hand, five days after arriving in Indonesia.
Me: I really don’t care for mosquitoes.
Karen: Yeah. I think I got bit twice while I was dropping you off at your place the other night.
How does she know that??
The mosquito comes in many varieties: tiny, huge; black, brown; solids, stripes. I’ve heard rumors that different varieties carry different diseases. People have told me that malaria-carrying mosquitoes are only out in the morning. Other people have told me that they are only out in the evening. Your guess is a good as mine.
One thing that all mosquitoes have in common is that they don’t walk. Oh, you don’t believe me? I ask you, when was the last time you saw a mosquito walk?
That’s what I thought.
During language school, Febby and I shared a room at a dormitory for Papuan women. Every morning, when I should have been getting ready to go to class, I would stand in front of my open closet, killing the mosquitoes living inside it while Febby sat on her mosquito-free side of the room, laughing at me.
Every. Single. Day.
Each mosquito can hold about one large drop of blood. Mosquitoes that have already taken a bite are often easier to catch as they tend to be heavier and lethargic.
It is a tragic thing to kill a mosquito only to realize that you’re too late: it’s already filled with your own blood. The only consolation is that it will never bit you, or anyone else, again.
Tip: If you’re having a hard time catching a mosquito, it makes it easier if it lands on you first. In any case, be forewarned – sometimes after a quick hit they’re just stunned. You really gotta squish ’em to make sure they’re good and dead.
Me: I think mosquitoes are breeding in my room.
Cathy: is there standing water in your room?
Me: no, but there is an alarming number of mosquitoes living there.
Speaking of standing water, Indonesian bathrooms have plenty of it. Each one is equipped with a bucket, tub or basin full of water. Bathing (or mandi-ing) involves dipping into the water and pouring it over yourself. Bathrooms tend to be quite wet. In other words, a lush breeding ground for mosquitoes.
It is the place where you are most in need of protection, and yet you are in your most vulnerable state. Any protection you may have had has been stripped away in either the removal of your clothing or in the very act of bathing itself.
It’s just not fair.
Mosquitoes are my primary reason for wearing long pants in stifling heat. Covering up with either heavy or loose-fitting clothing is the single best way to protect against mosquitoes.
Another way, in my house without screens, is to sleep under a mosquito net. It is my happy place.
I can also recommend a variety of electric repellers that use scent to drive mosquitoes away. Bay-gon is a reliable brand. The oil works better than the tabs. Neither can particularly protect against the mysterious influx in the mosquito population which occurs on a regular basis.
Repellents that are 98 to 100% deet are the most effective and the most deadly to you as a person using them. Works like a dream. Wash with soap and water.
A friend of mine used to breed mosquitoes to be used for testing by a company that develops mosquito repelling products. As it turns out, mosquitoes don’t need blood to survive – they only need it to breed. Only female mosquitoes bite. For every time I’ve been bitten, hundreds of mosquitoes have been born. That’s millions of mosquitoes over the course of this past year – in direct proportion to my itchiness and rage. The bite itself is bad enough, but the potential that it holds is just downright discouraging.
As for my friend’s breeding project – I wonder whose blood he used?
Although closer than ever, Febby and I now maintain separate residences. As mosquitoes tend to not be a problem for her, she has opted to sleep without a mosquito net, and it seems to be working out just fine for her.
One night I was staying at her house. We slept approximately one inch away from each other. By the time I fell asleep, I counted five new mosquito bites, just on one arm. I’d like to point out that it was the arm farther away from Febby.
Why, God? Why?
Laying on a hammock while on vacation with Devan.
Me: I’m getting bit like crazy over here.
Devan: How can you tell when you’re getting bit?
As it turns out, when you’ve been bit enough times, you just know.