Bite me.

The Culex mosquito-borne West Nile virus has been much in the news lately, accompanied by hand-wringing, chest pounding, and gnashing of teeth by garden bloggers, environmentalists, and dragon fly enthusiasts screeching in unison about the evils of DEET and its sprayed application over wide areas: how it will knock down beneficial insects, schoolchildren’s test scores, and vaporize every unsuspecting pocket dog set down on the ground to pee. Never mind those few unlucky individuals who contract the virus; sometimes the human herd needs to be culled.

I’ve just come inside from my notgarden, because I have been most thoroughly sucked by every female mosquito within a one-mile radius. It is a very rare occasion when I can go outside and not be set upon by these thirsty mothers (or mothers-to-be).  Almost never can I venture out of doors without first saturating myself  or clothing with repellent; what possessed me to do so today will likely remain one of the great unanswered questions of my life, along with “why did I sell my moped?” But this morning I went to the notgarden to tidy its unruly minty locks, wearing long pants and an oversized, light-colored tee shirt. No perfume, no hairspray, no deodorant was present to attract unwanted guests.  I spent 45 minutes outside and thought I might be holding my own against the mosquitoes since I didn’t see any landing on me.

Wiley beasties, they be.

I have a bite on my ass large enough to be a third cheek, administered through my pants and underwear; bites on my elbows, on the inside of my thighs, on my knees- — all accomplished by that needle-nose poked through fabric. I stopped counting the bites on my exposed forearms because the tally ups the itch factor. When I serve as an entree to insects in this way, the bites swell significantly and I shake as if in shock. My only recourse is a swift retreat to the indoors followed by a calming down period as the swelling levels off and receeds.

Organic or natural mosquito repellents such as Skin So Soft, cedar oil, and citronella are commonly cited as viable alternatives to products containing DEET.  Using those products on my skin is akin to placing salt around the rim of a margarita; they aid in transforming me into a mosquito libation. Even DEET is not 100% effective for me, but it is BY FAR the most effective means I have of being able to go outdoors comfortably. The environment in which I reside is damp, if not outright wet. My neighborhood is heavily wooded and admits little sunlight. Leaf litter, renewed most generously and most constantly, provides an excellent source of housing for mother mosquito. I’ve wondered at times why I so rarely see anyone outside near my residence; perhaps the answer lies in the insect population. 

I want those people advocating the exclusive use of organic or natural insect repellents to come to my neighborhood, get in my skin, and stand in the middle of my back yard for five minutes. I want them to see just how impossible it is to eliminate all sources of standing water in an area like this. I want them to try to remove the many years’ worth of leaves and debris that host the mosquitoes. They’ll be lucky, since my geographical location hosts little West Nile virus, so they won’t have much chance of having to endure its fever, vomiting, anorexia, or myalgia, or its possble repurcussions such as meningitis or encephalitis.

While those folks are standing out there in my doppelganger giving blood and starting to itch and swell, I’ll be spraying my real self with Deep Woods Off as I prepare to finish weeding the remaining half of the notgarden.

Go ahead. Bite me.

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14 responses to “Bite me.

  1. For a moment as I scrolled down the page and saw the back of your head… I thought surely we are not going to see that third cheek..love reading this. Yes they are spraying like crazy here in Houston. How are you and Mike. Hilary

  2. The Culex mosquito-borne West Nile virus variety as with other mosquito’s seldom travel more than a few hundred feet from the place they were hatched. It will take you and your neighbors in a joint effort, but with diligence, you can minimize your mosquito attacks. Dump every tiny container that will hole still water, even a soda bottle cap filled with water can hatch of hundred’s of the little blood suckers. Destroy the hatcheries and you will ‘almost’ eliminate every mosquito from your yard and garden.

    Happy Gardening

  3. thanks for not putting the pic of the 3rd cheek 🙂 I agree with you to use as strong as possible growing up in Texas that was a regular occurrence with the mosquito killing truck to come by and I turned out okay, well not damaged from that anyone, okay is negotiable

  4. Sounds like you have a severe reaction to mosquitoes. Yikes.

  5. Amen, Sister! Love this post! Down here in Texas we have a real problem, especially in Dallas where there have been 11 deaths, and lots more sick. Bring on the spray is what I say!

  6. My natural mosquito repellant –and it really does work–is copious amounts of dark rum and tonic with a squeeze of lime. Drink this often and regularly throughout the summer and those little blood suckers will find your blood unpleasantly quinine tasting. They will retreat for someone with more pleasant tasting blood. This works especially well on my front porch where I am never bitten and all of my non-drinking rum and tonic pals are attacked by the blood suckers. Quick–run out and buy some dark myeres rum, tonic and lime and partake. It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

    • Now this is advice I am willing to investigate. I hope it’s the tonic that is the repellent because vodka is my comfort rather than rum. Controlled trial to commence asap.

      • I think it is the tonic that works (although, it can’t hurt to add some alcohol!). You just need to check that there is quinine in it. There’s also something like tonic called “bitter lemon.” It’s hard to find, but I think it actually has more quinine.

        And I’m like you, it seems any of the lotions or spays actually *attract* the mosquitoes. They LOVE me!

        Good luck!

        • Alcohol makes me not care as much about being a meal. Maybe I can try applying tonic or bitter lemon in the shower. That will probably make me smell like a drunk, though. Thanks for the suggestion, and keep swatting those damn things.

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