I am a serial killer. The mangled bodies are lined up on the light summer cover that lies on top of my bed, leaving drops of blood where they put up a fight. The most annoying sound in the world is not a jackhammer crew at six in the morning or fingernails on a blackboard or even thousands of vuvuzelas. No, the most annoying sound in the world is the hum of a mosquito somewhere in the vicinity of your head in the dark after you have gone to bed.
Actually, let me correct that. The most annoying sound in the world is when the hum of the mosquito stops. That’s because when the hum of the mosquito stops it means the mosquito is doing something other than flying. It’s possible it could be resting on a wall, but only the most optimistic of optimists would put much money on that. Somehow, despite highly functional screens on the windows, a posse of mosquitoes always seems to show up in my bedroom around midnight.
Since I am sustaining countless generations of mosquito dynasties, I thought I should learn a bit more about the recipients of my philanthropy. That bump you get after a mosquito bite actually has a name. It is called a wheal. Further research revealed that a wheal is actually any area of the skin that is temporarily raised, reddened and accompanied by itching. So take that mosquitoes. You have no monopoly on raised bumps.
Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, preferring to rest and digest their dinner during the day. Of course, I didn’t need a scientist to tell me that part, although I beg to differ with this rather narrow notion of mosquito behaviour. Unless my colony has insomnia or are compulsive overeaters, in my experience there is no moratorium on when a mosquito might choose to help itself to a blood donation. They do it in mid-morning when I’m on my way down the hill to the lake, they do it at lunch time when I’m trying to enjoy an al fresco sandwich, and they do it in the afternoon when I’m taking the laundry off the line. And usually, since I can swat them away if they are attacking my front flanks, they bite me mid-back where I can’t easily reach to scratch or between my toes, which I can easily reach to scratch but where, if you have experienced this, you will know that scratching is worse than not scratching.
Apparently, the people who study these things have yet to determine a definitive reason why mosquitoes exist. My hypothesis is that their ultimate purpose is to destroy the human race, because the deadly diseases exclusively transmitted via mosquitoes include dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever, lymphatic filariasis, west Nile, encephalitis and tularaemia. To be fair, most of the mosquitos that specialize in these diseases thrive in the Southern hemisphere, which is why in the Northern climates we are told to suck it up and slather on the calamine because after all, mosquitoes won’t kill you. This of course is completely untrue.
I have discovered it is possible to be affected by mosquito-induced anaphylaxis and I am certainly a poster child for mosquito allergen sensitivity. I’m not sure what’s worse: the welts (sorry, wheals) from the bites or the hives from the mosquito repellent. Maybe I can get a doctor’s note to exempt me from mosquito exposure, which may qualify me for a free, fancy apartment in Paris, or at least I’m pretty sure it will.
Also, I’m sorry to report that mosquitoes have no definitive predators. The proof for this is that nothing manages to put any measurable dent in their population. Sure, dragonflies do their part but I am convinced they spend more of their time swooping about admiring their iridescent wings than chomping down on mosquitoes.
Some people believe that installing purple martin bird houses will create a mosquito-free zone. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but my research says that less than one percent of a purple martin’s diet consists of mosquitoes. The good news is there are no mosquitoes in Antarctica, which is likely where you will find me next summer.