JuneOntario's blog: MOSQUITO MAGNET

Posted on Jul 29, 2017 3:29 PM

The high-pitched “eeeee” sound was unmistakable. It brought me out of sleep and had me sitting bolt upright in bed at 1 a.m., one recent morning. My DH mumbled, “Whassamatter?” and I replied, “A mosquito just flew past my ear.” Because his hand-eye coordination is better than mine, DH then had the task of hunting down and killing the insect, while I wandered around the room as bait. It bit me once on each shoulder before it was dispatched.

I was in my 20’s before I discovered that mosquitoes liked me. Up to that time I had lived in England and encountered only harmless gnats and midges. The first intimation of trouble ahead came on a trip to Italy with a friend. Novice travelers, we didn’t know to avoid Italy in August, and we found the cities stiflingly hot and full of mosquitoes. I was bitten, and bitten, and bitten, while the insects unfairly ignored my friend.

One disastrous visit to a Caribbean island, when I sustained 23 mosquito bites to my legs in one evening, convinced me I should not travel to the tropics. Other vacations abroad took me to mountains, deserts, and breezy places with minimal biting-insect activity, although if there was a mosquito anywhere in the vicinity, I was its target, and all my hotel rooms magically contained a mosquito even if I had not opened a window.

In the fall of 1982 I emigrated from England to Ontario, Canada. I arrived when the weather was beginning to be frosty, and by the time the long winter ended I was eager to go out and explore the parklands in Toronto’s ravines. I remember standing in a delightful woodland clearing, seeing an insect alight on my arm, and thinking, “What a big gnat!” and then, “Ow!”

So began a long battle to deter the so-called “Provincial bird of Ontario” from biting me. I declined all invitations to go camping. I stayed away from woods, lakes, swamps, and rivers. I covered myself in insect repellent when gardening. This strategy worked until DH and I retired. We moved to a wooded property containing a large pond, a wetland, and a stream, and I slathered “Off” insect repellent lotion onto myself so often that my skin developed an allergic reaction to DEET. I purchased bug-net headgear and resigned myself to seeing my garden through a film of netting from spring to fall.

Over the years, through trial and error, I found a DEET-free, herbal, insect repellent that worked. The only drawback was that it smelled like rotting lemons and repelled people as well as mosquitoes. Matters were taken out of my hands when a regulation came into effect out-lawing the sale of herbal concoctions that had not undergone exhaustive and expensive laboratory testing, and ‘Buzz Away’ suddenly became unavailable. Shortly thereafter I headed to Europe for another vacation, and during a layover at Heathrow airport I decided to look for insect repellent in the Duty Free stores. I found a selection of DEET-free lotions, and I bought a tube of Boots pharmacy’s lightly fragranced ‘Repel’ to test against Tuscan insect vampires. ‘Repel’ turned out to be perfect: non-smelly and very effective. Every time I travel through Heathrow airport, I buy more tubes of it.

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Mosquitos by LysmachiaMoon Jul 30, 2017 12:48 PM 3

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