Mosquitoes possess a unique telecommunication system. I am not sure if they use cell phones, Morse code, mental telepathy, or an unknown, more advanced technology. What I do know is that their communication method is secretive, fast, accurate, and totally focused on tracking my daily movement.
Do they gather in a “war room” equipped with radar, colorful live feed maps, and a sophisticated GPS system that tracks my every movement? They must. How else can one explain how they know when I will be outside and my exact location at any given time?
It is generally acknowledged that mosquitoes come out in force at dusk, thus most people, including me, avoid long walks and gatherings after 4 pm, unless garbed in long sleeve tees, long pants, hats, and sprayed thick with mosquito repellant.
With this scientific knowledge in mind, I venture out on my daily walks at dawn, not only to avoid mosquitoes but to avoid heatstroke, as I live in Florida. Florida summers, are, in a word, disgusting. The heat and humidity are literal killers, and it is safest to remain in an air-conditioned building until November.
All righty then, with avoiding heatstroke my secondary goal to getting fit, I leave my house between 5:30 and 7 am. It is dawn, not dusk. Mosquitoes should be tuckered out from a night of feasting on human blood like vampires who have awakened from a century’s sleep. They should be going to sleep wherever mosquitoes sleep.
But NO. Their radar starts to blip like mad. Dots on radar maps light up in every mosquito war room in my city in Florida. Joan is OUT. She is on the move. Gather in groups and let’s GO.
As I am walking, I not only see them come in swarms at me, I can feel every stinging bite on my legs, arms, and back. They are hearty little souls, immune to my frantic swatting and flailing. There are other walkers and runners out at this early morning hour. I don’t see any of them swinging their arms, fighting off an invading army of mosquitoes. It’s just me who is being attacked by a hoard of thirsty bloodsuckers.
Their feasting finally complete, they fly away and leave me to finish my walk. The resulting swelling and itching do not occur right away. They do not even occur after I take my shower and survey the damage, which is extensive. The back of my left leg looks like a corn cob………bumps straight up and down from the back of the knee to the ankle. There are welts on my right shoulder and back. There are even bites around my right ankle and on the back of my right calf, which happens to be the leg that was sheathed in a tight stocking due to other medical issues. How? How did they manage to slip underneath a stocking that is practically adhered to my skin?
The full extent of this attack is not felt until I start to get into bed that evening. As I swing one leg up onto the bed, it starts. Itching, itching, itching……….EVERYWHERE. I don’t know where to turn or what to scratch first. Knowing that I am not supposed to scratch anywhere, I try scratching around and to the sides of every bite. With every scratch, each bite grows in size and gets redder.
I take out the Hydrocortisone cream and start to slather. I don’t bother treating each bite. There are too many of them. I just rub the cream all over the back of each leg and whichever part of my shoulder and back I am able to reach. I pace and wiggle my legs between each step. Pace and wiggle. Pace and wiggle, until finally, after about 20 minutes, the itching subsides and I head not to bed, but to the computer to Google mosquitoes.
I want to know why I am so beloved by these nasty little vampires. I find out that mosquitoes like:
Type O blood
Everyone produces carbon dioxide when they breathe, but more is produced when they exercise. Mosquitoes are also attracted to movement. I walk between 3 and 5 miles on my morning treks. Strike one for me.
Apparently, the mosquitoes have not noticed my 100+ lb. weight loss, and still consider me obese. Obese people, according to Google, also produce more carbon dioxide, which mosquitoes love. Strike two for me.
I have Type O blood. Strike three.
I have no idea, but I guess I produce more lactic acid than other people. Strike four.
Basically, Google confirmed what I already know. I have a large sign on my back that says BITE ME to mosquitoes.
Google also informed me that mosquitoes are just as active at dawn as they are at dusk. Who knew? Certainly not me.
The best advice Google had to avoid being mosquito fodder was to:
Avoid going out at dusk and dawn.
Wear light-colored clothing.
Don’t breathe (I made that one up).
Rub lots and lots and lots of mosquito repellant onto your skin before you go outside.
So now I know why I have been a mosquito target all of my life.
If my choice is to get eaten up by mosquitoes at dawn or drop dead from heat exhaustion by walking later in the day, I am choosing to walk at dawn and hoard the stores’ supplies of insect repellant. If you need any, you had better get there before me. You have been warned.
About the author
Retired - Speech/language therapist, Special Education Asst, English teacher
Websites: www.thealzheimerspouse.com; talktimewithjoan.com
Whimsical essays, short stories -funny, serious, and thought-provoking
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!