Here’s another seasonal hazard: mosquitoes. I am their favourite meal. There are several reasons for that (see below) and they are becoming more of a pest down here.
Do you have blood group O? Do you have a high metabolic rate? Join the club. Recent research shows that you are among the most likely to attract mosquitoes and to be bitten silly on summer evenings. I know. I share these characteristics.
So far, this summer has been exceptionally dry and the conditions for mosquitoes to breed have not been propitious. But we had 44 mm of rain last Wednesday (having had none for more than 5 weeks). Then, they went into overdrive.
We sat out a couple of nights ago in the dusk listening to the owls and other sounds. I squashed at least eight mosquitoes. Some of them got me, though. During the night, the tell-tale itching started up around my ankles and behind my knees.
It’s the female of the species that is the culprit. And we are among the départements at risk of the tiger mosquito, i.e. the one that carries all sorts of nasty diseases, including dengue fever and chikungunya. Apparently, by prefectoral decree, it’s forbidden to allow standing water under plant pots, for example, because that’s where they breed.
A couple of years ago in August, I had a very unpleasant virus involving vomiting and feeling pretty rotten for a whole week. I don’t think this was the so-called vomiting virus. Rather, I believe it was something carried by a mosquito, which had been greatly in evidence for a few days beforehand.
So, what can you do?
- Anoint yourself with anti-moustique spray. I do this religiously, but they always find the Achilles heel, the 2 square mm that I didn’t quite reach. I recently used one described as Jungle Spray, but it left my watch with an indelibly cloudy face. So what did it do to my skin?
- Light an anti-moustique spiral and put it near your outside dining table and then sit downwind of it. The problem is that the manufacturers pack them in twos, stuck together, and you have to separate them (see the image at the top of the post). This is akin to doing a Rubik’s Cube. And since both clumsiness and lack of spatial awareness run in my family, I invariably break both spirals before I can separate them.
- Stick an insect-repellent plug into an electrical socket in your bedroom. Two problems here: they are expensive and the liquid is used up quickly; and if it doesn’t do the mosquitoes any good, it probably doesn’t do you any good, either.
- Rig up mosquito nets around your bed. I have always hated these because they make me feel claustrophobic. One always manages to get through, anyway. And woe betide you if you need to get up in the night to go to the loo. You end up swaddled in the nets like an Egyptian Mummy, unable to battle your way out.
- Make a special frame for your window fitted with a grill through which the mosquitoes cannot penetrate. The SF did this, and I think it’s one of the more effective methods.
Whatever you do, do not scratch the bites, however tempting it is (and they always itch in the middle of the night when you are semi-comatose). If you do, they come up in big red weals and take several days, if not weeks, to resolve.
Instead, rub a cream like Anthisan or the French equivalent Apaisyl on them, which has both soothing and preventive qualities. Both of these are anti-histamines, though, so if you are afraid of allergic reactions to them, ask for something else at your chemist.
There’s another solution: wear a suit of armour or a spacesuit all summer. Or just stay indoors.
What’s your favourite anti-moustique remedy?
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