The mosquito coast

The most annoying sound in the world is not a jackhammer crew at 6 am 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.

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 blood donation.

• There is no known purpose for mosquitoes, which is another thing I could have told you without the need to consult an authoritative source. Unless maybe their ultimate purpose is to destroy the human race. 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 these thrive in the Southern hemisphere. That’s 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 not true. 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 bruises and 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.

• 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 time swooping about admiring their iridescent wings than chomping down on mosquitoes. Some also believe that installing purple martin bird houses will create a mosquito cone of silence. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, less than 1% of a purple martin’s diet consists of mosquitoes.

• There are no mosquitoes in Antarctica, which is likely where you will find me next summer.

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