You might well question the three mosquito carcasses from last Summer still splattered against the inside of my truck’s windshield. It’s not like they impeded my view over the Winter, or presented a driving hazard. They’re just little mosquitoes, and they’re all desiccated and dried up anyway, so … you know. BUT, in the same week they met their fate, I cleaned-up the remains of the one that “got” one of us before we got her. That’s so gross eh ? Blood stains on the dashboard. Ewww!
I left the three carcasses to serve as badges of honour, representative of man’s battle against the elements. Ranger and I nailed those B-tards last August when we were driving down (rather than walk down) a hot, bug infested road North-West of Rice Lake. We just wanted to see where it went (a No Exit of course). Yes it was severe bug season, but it was hot, so we had the windows down. Things were going pretty good until the terrain changed drastically from shady – treed canopy, to open – aired and swampy. I looked down at my left elbow and caught a roughneck crew of mosquitoes setting up a drilling rig on my arm. Just as I shouted a warning to Ranger he was shouting one to me. We hit the window closure buttons. Well, Ranger hit the door locks first. He did that for the longest time, before he got used to my truck. Every time I tried to get out, and he’d had his window down, I’d have to reach around and unlock my door. He still does it occasionally, but now he usually just locks himself in. And that’s funny when he does that.
Anyway, by the time we got the windows closed, the truck cab was filled with mosquitoes and the conversation went kinda like this :
SMACK! “Sonofa !” WHACK!
“Jeez! How do they find us ?” SMACK !
“Apparently fricking delicious, but thanks for asking”. SLAP!
“Heay ! The damned things are under the seats too !” Thump-thump !
“Well, gimme a breakfast burrito” WHACK! “and I’ll solve that problem right smartly” SWAT !
“Where’s my “OFF ?” I rummaged through the console until I came up with it. Ranger pulled his out too. Though you’re supposed to spray it on yourself sparingly; we elected to pollute the air in the cab with it. It was like prepping a town park for the Mayor’s daughter’s wedding eh? We sprayed it around like a garden fogging contractor. “OFF” smells better ‘n Muskol, but at a certain air-to-OtFF ratio, it becomes worrisome. Once we’d inhaled enough DEET to ensure neither of us would ever see 70 years of age, all that were left were 3 particularly elusive warriors. They’d assumed covert positions way up between the windshield and dashboard. If they could stay below fingertip reach, they’d be alright. By this time, I finally had us backed out to the road. Ranger says “OK, let’s get some speed up and blow them outa here”. “Like Hell” I said. “Those B-tards are goin’ DOWN !” JAB-JAB-JAB! SMACK! I back-handed the first one into oblivion, but not too hard. I didn’t want it to smear all over my hand. That wouldn’t be sanitary. It also wouldn’t leave its miserable, contorted carcass on the windshield for all the rest to see (psychological warfare eh ?). With their sergeant gone, the remaining two soon followed.
Apparently, there are 64 species of mosquitoes in Ontario and I think we must’ve smacked, swatted, slapped, and whacked our way through at least 20 of ‘em. You wanna hear some glad tidings ? Just Google “Gallinippers globalnews”. Oh Joy! There are concerns that Ochlerotatus japonicas, and Aedes albopictus, a couple of invasive asian mosquitoes, might outcompete our native species someday.
I can’t even think of a smart-ass remark to go with that one.
So, if we can’t outrun them (well, you might outrun one, but there’s a few more further up the trail), how do we avoid getting stabbed ? Yeah, though mosquitoes do indeed bite, they actually stab. The best advice is the old adage, don’t make yourself a victim, RELAX. They’re small (exception gallinipper) but their eyes can still discern motion from 10 meters distant. From 3 meters away, they’re already heat detecting shallow spots on your skin that will yield easiest blood. In high humidity conditions, they can do that from 10 meters. ‘Course, they can smell the carbon dioxide from your breath and the lactic acid you exude in your sweat, from up to 40 meters away. Well, how can we be “2 Old Guys Walking” if we don’t move, breathe, or sweat ? Those things kinda come with the territory or title.
I can assure you that eating magical ingredients doesn’t help either. In my younger years, I went camping with buddies, and we ate garlic until our lips went numb. The mosquitoes couldn’t have cared less. We tried vitamin B12 as well, heartburn city ! But that was all that happened. Sitting in the smoke of a campfire does nothing but make your eyes burn, and don’t expect cigarette smoke to help either. They don’t care for rain, but they can, and will, fly in it. There’s a great deal of research going on to find out why 1 in 10 people are “mosquito magnets”. If science can figure out why these people attract mosquitoes, it may point to a way to repel them too. No, we can’t all be the 1 in 10 mosquito magnets, even if it sure feels like it.
There’s some evidence that drinking beer makes one more attractive to mosquitoes. AND it’ll make that girl across the park more attractive to you. Win-win-win eh ? The same studies show that limburger cheese also attracts certain mosquitoes. Scientists have theorized that this may explain the attraction some mosquitoes have for human feet. I wonder if Footfetishius perveratii is the species involved. Though it could just be that the skin is thin on the ankles, so mosquitoes head for it. But that theory’s no damned fun. So, if you wanna move, breath, and consequently sweat this Summer, what do you do ?
Deet was developed about 50 years ago and is still the most effective repellant in North America. There are “natural” repellants, which don’t work so well, so I gotta go with science on this one. I don’t care for mosquitoes, but I’m scared to crap of lyme disease. So be sure to use a product with at least 20% DEET to repel deer ticks too. As stated earlier, Muskol is stinky, but OFF! makes a nice scented spray which admittedly, by September starts to smell like 10 pounds of pigsh!t in a 5 pound pail. But by then, who cares ? The bugs are gone, and the snow’s coming soon enough.
I usually shower immediately upon returning Home from a hike to wash off all the DEET and any other things that might’ve hitched a ride on me. I’m all in favour of science (of course) but since no one can prove exactly how and why DEET works, I like to get it off me asap, or avoid getting it on me at all, if I can. I’d like to try something old this year. Decades ago, we had a mosquito kit with a fine mesh jacket and pants. You placed them into a plastic bag with a few drops of Muskol. The bag was sealed and left overnight. The next day the outfit would provide excellent mosquito protection and being a fine mesh, it was wonderfully cool even though it covered as much as a skidoo suit would. The advantage being that you weren’t smearing a layer of smelly repellant on your skin.
Well, take heart and know that Winter will end soon. Then we can look forward to the mosquitoes ! Oh yeah, by the way, deer flies ? Forget it. They couldn’t care less about DEET. They just see it as a glaze for their lunch which is … your flesh. Sorry I can’t assess how DEET affects black flies as there don’t appear to be any down here in Southern Ontario. I gotta love that !