Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mozzies

I heard the announcer on the radio this morning advising his listeners to use insect repellent and to avoid Mosquitoes...the flying invaders have been bad this year.

The weather lately has only been fit for ducks...or Mozzies. Mosquitoes. The word Mozzie sounds comforting somehow, like a well-worn sweater or a cozy blankie. The direct opposite of what these tiny monsters really are.

It's rained...and although I felt as if everyone and everything was drying to a crisp before the rain appeared...once more, the Mozzies are on the attack...in swarms, at times.

The Female Mozzies suck blood in order to lay more eggs. Male Mozzies...well, they're there for the mating. They dine on flowers, they don't apparently have a need for blood. And they usually die soon after mating. Most Females can go on to lay more and more eggs.

And those eggs hatch, in any pool of water, in a matter of hours. They'll leave their birth pond in only four to seven days.

There are few things more annoying than the whine of a Mosquito in my ear, just as I am drifting off to sleep.

It is even more annoying for my partner, whose hair on the top of his head is decidedly sparse. Mozzies are drawn to that inviting pate and the resultant bumps and itches would make anyone annoyed.

We live in a forested area. It reminds me of Provincial Campgrounds, also places from the past where Mozzies were a part of Summer fun.

They have huge powers, these tiny insects. Whole areas can be cleared of any mammal, when a resting area is disturbed and the whining becomes a buzz saw.

Nate, as an example, decided to go for a meander the other morning. It was cool and cloudy, having rained hard after a thunderstorm...just the right temperature for a walkabout, he thought.

But the Mozzies were on the hunt, and it was not long before our errant Dog returned, shamefaced, wet and covered in Mosquitoes and their bites. Why, when, on certain days, Nate will not even entertain the thought of the lower bench, because of the Mozzies, he decided to brave them in the deeper Forest, is slightly beyond me. But freedom beckoned.

I don't want to give the impression we are always besieged by these insects; on warm, dry days, of which there are many, there are few. They make up for their absence on cloudy, still days, especially if it's wet.

I've used natural products and Deet. They all work to a degree, but should there be a particularly hungry Female about, she'll find the one spot on my skin that hasn't been treated and go to town.

They're attracted to carbon dioxide, these Mozzie ladies, in order to find their blood meal. The idea behind Citronella is that it disrupts their sense of smell. I burned a strong candle on the deck, and it seemed to do the job. But I find I am allergic; my nose and eyes run and burn if I am in the area.

Mozzie-free areas come with a price.

"Mosquitoes use exhaled carbon dioxide, body odors and temperature, and movement to home in on their victims. Only female mosquitoes have the mouth parts necessary for sucking blood. When biting with their proboscis, they stab two tubes into the skin: one to inject an enzyme that inhibits blood clotting; the other to suck blood into their bodies. They use the blood not for their own nourishment but as a source of protein for their eggs. For food, both males and females eat nectar and other plant sugars." National Geographic

An interesting fact, that the Female Mozzie sucks blood to nourish their eggs. And it is the parasites of a particular disease the Female picks up from another host that she passes on...the diseases themselves don't originate with the Mosquito itself. Small comfort.

That enzyme they use...that's the part that reacts with the body and causes the itching. National Geographic says... "The only silver lining to that cloud of mosquitoes in your garden is that they are a reliable source of food for thousands of animals, including birds, bats, dragonflies, and frogs." So there's that.

I read, as well, that humans are not the first choice for the Mozzie. They prefer Cattle, Horses, and Birds. I wonder what it is in their Blood that is preferable?

No matter...it seems, as I learn more about the Cariboo, the ubiquitous Mosquito, the plague of which has been written about extensively by the area's authors, is here to stay.

I wonder if that radio announcer knows a way to avoid Mozzies? Other than closeting oneself inside?

It would be great to know.









11 comments:

  1. In my experience they like fare skinned people more than those with darker tones. They love me; I can't step outside between May and September without gaining at least one or two bites. My legs especially during these months are hideous, paved with big red welts, even if I can keep from scratching. They routinely cover my legs with so many bites that I've decided to completely cover my calves with tattoos. It won't stop the itching but it would at least cut down on the piteous and grossed out glances I get when people see my legs. But you're right, they are important food source for other critters, but I still hate 'em.

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  2. After riding through Northumbria my legs are still showing signs of mozzie bites. Over here they are relatively painless but I end up looking as if I have measles.

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  3. I loved this post.

    I got so interested in these fascinating creatures that I almost forgot how horrible they are. Fleas and ticks are also fascinating, but not welcome in my world.

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  4. Livia...I'm with you, I can't bring myself to like them either. I'm so sorry your body reacts so badly. I believe you may be right...Graham reacts worse than I to Mozzie bites, and he is fair-skinned.

    Dave,

    Glad you had a great time!

    Most of the time, these bites are just annoying and go away quickly; however there are some which will swell up and itch like the dickens. I'd like to know what the difference between bites are.

    Jan,

    When something irritates, I have to research it, just to understand.

    But it's the season for them...autumn will be here soon enough, and I'll be wishing for Mozzie summer again!

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  5. Interesting facts. I don't know why "mozzies" prefer cattle and birds to humans. I never thought of it before, but all the times that I spent the night camping in the back yards on farms where my friends lived, we never were bothered those pesky little things.

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  6. Another enlightened post. I also did not know that the Mosquitos get blood for the eggs. It makes sense to me know that you have written about it. Yet, it is a fact that I did not know.

    I too cannot stand these little creatures and I have had my share of those itchy little buggers.

    Thank you and thank God for Calamine lotion.

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  7. Can't get over the fact that areas that have snow also get mossies. I always thought they were only in the tropics. Recently heard that Alaska has huge ones which used to drive humans and mules mad in the old days.

    I can't stand citronella, read that catnip and rosemary cuttings mixed and infused in oil is great to put on your skin and repel mozzies (10 times more effective than DEET). Maybe you can plant both for next summer ?

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  8. Joe confirms the strategy I was hatching while reading your post, Marion. You need to keep a herd of cattle in your backyard to distract the mozzies!

    Like Jackie, I certainly wouldn't have associated the icy landscape I was reading about in your earlier posts with mosquitoes. Do you know what it is about the Cariboo which suits the little blighters so well?

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  9. Joe,

    I think it was on How Stuff Works where I found that if you could put a cow in the backyard, vacuum her off for a period of time...I forget how long...you would finally be mosquito free in your area. Mozzies only travel a couple of miles.

    I don't remember if you have to do it seasonally. I don't imagine I'll find out from experience, either, lol!

    Dave,

    There is also a soap that contains calamine and other herbs made by Lush. It's great, but runs out quickly with daily use!

    Jackie,

    I read that Lavender was also good...I tested that one. I drenched myself with lavender body spray; then rubbed some fresh lavender on my hands and face.

    The Mozzies stayed away; but then, most things stayed away. The scent was very strong!

    I will certainly give the catnip/rosemary one a test, as well. I love the scent of each...but perhaps I will use a little less than I did with the Lavender, lol!

    Simon,

    Ice and Snow can't bother them much, or at least their progeny, since the far North is renowned for the size of the Mozzies.

    There are numerous ranches in the area here, along with lakes everywhere. There are watering holes and sloughs. Cattle ranches cover huge areas...so large it's impossible for me to comprehend.

    A bit after breakup of the Ice on the Lakes is when I noticed the influx...June was horrible regarding the Mozzies.

    The Cariboo has very warm and dry weather, at times in the Summer, although it is usually more moderate. We had 35C the other day, and if hot weather happens after a rain, there is the humidity factor. Mozzies love that!

    But you know what? I've been told there are no fleas in the Cariboo!

    Just Ticks and Mozzies and Horseflies and Deerflies and...

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  10. Marion, it is good to see an old favorite blog is still as good as ever. I am slowly returning to blogging after my sabbatical.

    No stranger to these insects, I try to avoid being out when they are most active. So far so good and I haven't been bitten once this year. Our area has had West Nile but I hate to hibernate during my favorite time of year.

    Hope you are well adjusted to the new home by now.

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  11. Sheila,

    I'm so glad to hear from you. I have often wondered about you and how you were doing.

    And here I read on your site that you've moved! What a surprise! It sounds like a lovely town...I love those old lady homes, as you know.

    Can't wait to hear more about it!

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