Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mosquitoes


The Italian contingent is supposed to be a Guru Plinck's this week for silat. Guru has small groups of dedicated students around the world -- the Finns/Swedes, and the group in Italy usually manage to get over this way every year or two, and it's always fun to train with them. Nice guys, one and all.

And since the weather has finally warmed up and gotten a bit drier, we have moved outside, to Guru's front yard and the sand pit. This is good and bad: The sand has gotten seeded over a long wet winter and spring, and sports patches of grass; the record damp and cool spring has also produced a bumper crop of mosquitoes.

God, the old joke goes, made two mistakes: Mosquitoes and Teamsters. I've known some decent teamsters, but I never met a mosquito I liked.

Some of the guys in class are trying the fabric softener dryer sheet remedy as a repellent, though Snopes allows that anything less than DEET is a waste of time. Citronella and Pic coils work -- if you are in the smoke. Zappers are inefficient, spraying insecticide kills all the useful bugs along with the skeeters. Better to stay inside behind the screens, but if you can't, either DEET or some of the aromatic oils -- Eucalyptus, for example -- work, if not as long.

As a fair-skinned lad, if there was a female mosquito -- it's the females that bite people -- within a hundred miles, it would find me. And Louisiana mosquitoes, if you went into the woods hunting or camping? Punch through your wallet. Carry off small dogs and children. Make the back of your shirt into a bear's pelt, they were so thick ...

Once civilians could buy the stuff, starting in 1957, I put 6-12 on in the summers every time I ventured outside of my neighborhood after dark. Didn't have to do it there because the big DDT trucks would roll up and down our streets every so often, putting out a dense white fog that slew bugs every which way. We liked to ride behind the truck on our bikes, the spray so thick we couldn't see each other. I mean, the Government wouldn't do anything that was harmful, right ... ?

Yeah, DEET is bad for you. So is malaria, yellow fever, West Nile Virus. Pick your poison ...

6 comments:

William Adams said...

The CO_2 emitting traps work quite well. Pricey at a couple hundred bucks plus consumables, but they will catch _thousands_ of mosquitos in a 24-hour period.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

In Indonesia, I took pure DEET with me (you can buy it at any Army/Navy store) and SOAKED my arms and legs in it. Ran it over my hair. Covered my neck, ears and spots of my face.

And indeed, got sick on occasion. But since I didn't want to die of Dengue fever, I kept it up. And I didn't get bit.

I wouldn't do it again, but I saw my compatriots using deep woods OFF!, various local shit...And they got munched on. One of them now has stage 1 Dengue.

James said...

Oh man, I remember following those trucks with my friends on our bikes, weaving in and out of the billowing clouds of smoke. Well, it was a fun time even if I do eventually get cancer.

Dan Gambiera said...

Mosquitoes are attracted to CO2 and lactic acid. Standard bugzappers don't interest them.

Steve Perry said...

Dengue Fever, aka Breakbone Fever, ah. There was a case of that came through our clinic in like 1976 or '77.
Not something you see in the US very often, and when you do, it's usually somebody who has been in the tropics. I understand there has been a rise in cases around the Texas/Mexico border.

Nasty stuff. And the skeeters that carry it bite in the daytime.

The big thing about DEET vis a vis the concentration seems to be how long it works. The more the percentage, the longer. The pansy stuff with aloe and vitamin E will get you through an hour or two, but once sweat washes it off, the bugs'll find you again. Pure DEET keeps you invisible for eight to ten hours, but it does sometimes cause seizures, hallucinations, skin rashes ...

Nataraj Hauser said...

This is my preferred method:
http://vodpod.com/watch/2951606-tabasco-mosquito-super-bowl-spot