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.