As the weather warms up and the humidity rises here in Shanghai, mosquitoes are again becoming a nuisance. It’s my blood after all, not their’s. In my annual battles with the nefarious little bastards (bitches, actually), I have tried all manner of tactics to defeat them, or at least keep them at bay.
The first thing I always do, of course, is to try sealing every possible entrance into my Den of Evil, but naturally they have some Kitty Pryde mutant ability to go through walls.
I’ve tried maxing out my air conditioner, hoping that the cold ambient temperature will make them go look for warmer prey, but I just end up freezing myself.
I’ve tried over-the-counter consumer anti-mosquito products like those plug-in mosquito-repellant thingamajiggers, you know, the ones where you insert some kind of chemical laced disc into an emitter you plug into the electrical socket. Yeah, I bought a pack with something like 72 discs, and I still have something like 66 discs left…because the damn thing doesn’t work.
When such passive tactics fail, one must resort to active methods. So, I started rolling up magazines and smacking the little buggers into satisfying little blood splats. When that wasn’t efficient enough (because, you know, you occasionally miss), I upgraded from the Rolled Magazine to an “ELECTRONICMOSQUITOSWATTER” (grim wand, socketed with 2 perfect topazes). This proved to be much more efficient, as you could try zapping them in mid-air without waiting for them to land.
Unfortunately, neither the rolled up magazine or electrified swatter is a long-term solution against the never-ending horde of them. You invariably find yourself standing there all night, with bloodshot eyes either scanning for the next bogey or locked onto your next target, mosquito-smacking weapon at the ready (too close for missles, I’m switching to guns), often waiting for the mosquito to fly near you or land somewhere for you to take a swing at them. Even then, each kill is a short-lived victory, as another bogey appears soon after, often buzzing in your ear the moment you’ve lied back down and tucked yourself back into bed.
I have no doubt that many people in Shanghai, China, or anywhere in the mosquito-infested world share my frustrations. To that end, I’ve gathered some intelligence on our mutual enemy via the all-useful Wikipedia, to help us better understand what we’re up against and what tactics we may employ in our on-going struggle.
Why Women Are Always Evil
The females of most mosquito species suck blood (hematophagy) from other animals, which has made them the deadliest disease vector known, killing millions of people over thousands of years and continuing to kill millions per year by the spread of infectious diseases.
Damn wimmin’…blood-suckin’ disease vectors!
Males live for about a week, feeding on nectar and other sources of sugar. Females will also feed on sugar sources for energy but usually require a blood meal for the development of eggs.
See, male mosquitoes are so cute and cuddly, feeding on NECTAR. They’re like bees…without stingers! They’re like…Shanghainese men!
When and How Mosquitos Hunt For Victims
Mosquitos are crepuscular (dawn or dusk) feeders. During the heat of the day most mosquitoes rest in a cool place and wait for the evenings. They may still bite if disturbed. Mosquitos are adept at infiltration and have been known to find their way into residences via deactivated air conditioning units.
Prior to and during blood feeding, they inject saliva into the bodies of their source(s) of blood. Female mosquitoes hunt their blood host by detecting carbon dioxide (CO2) and 1-octen-3-ol from a distance.
- Don’t go outside during evenings.
- Keep your air conditioning on (or cover your ducts).
- Don’t breathe out.
Mounting The Resistence
There are many methods used for mosquito control. Depending on the situation, source reduction, biocontrol, larviciding (control of larvae), or adulticiding (control of adults) may be used to manage mosquito populations.
These techniques are accomplished using habitat modification, such as removing stagnant water and other breeding areas, pesticide like DDT, natural predators, (eg Dragonflies, larvae-eating fish), and trapping. Garlic Oil concentrate will repel mosquitos for up to 4 weeks.
- Get rid of stagnant water, you know, puddles and stuff.
- Kill it with toxic cancer-causing chemicals of doom.
- Get a pet dragonfly.
- Uh…where can I get this “Garlic Oil concentrate” stuff?
Treating Battle Wounds
Many home remedies and recipes exist, most of which are effective against itching, including calamine lotion, baking soda, salt, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and toothpaste. Rubbing nail polish (preferably clear) or deodorant on the bite will stop it from itching most of the time. Ammonia has been clinically demonstrated to be an effective treatment. Both using a brush to scratch the area surrounding the bite and running scalding hot water (around 49 °C) over it can alleviate itching for several hours by reducing histamine-induced skin blood flow.
Okay, I may have to try to deodorant thing. Not so sure about the scalding hot water thing though. KILL IT WITH FIRE.
My Personal Recommendation
The one thing that I’ve found to work pretty well is a mosquito tent (basically a mosquito net canopy) around my bed. Mine has a fiberglass frame and tucks under the mattress with three zippered openings. I just have to be quick and careful zipping open the portal, crawling onto my bed, and zipping the entrance closed again without any mosquitoes zipping through like Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in ID4. Granted, this isn’t much use when you’re not in bed, and you do end up feeling like a caged animal (rawr!), but it’ll at least keep the mosquitoes from bothering you at the most important time: while you’re trying to get your beauty sleep.
Do you have any other anti-mosquito recommendations or mosquito stories? Share them with us in the comments below!