Monday, June 4, 2018


It's already begun, and I don't like it one bit.  I'm talking about mosquito season.

Years ago, mosquitoes were just pests – something to drive people crazy and ruin their enjoyment of the great outdoors – or to buzz in their ears when they were trying to sleep. But nowadays, mosquitoes, because they spread all sorts of dangerous diseases, are right up there with scorpions and tarantulas on the “fear this insect/critter” list.

Sure, I understand that all creatures were put on this earth for a reason, but I still haven't figured out a logical reason for the creation of mosquitoes...other than to make humans' lives miserable.  Unfortunately, there's a small swamp out behind my house and it’s the fertility clinic of the mosquito world.  They breed there by the zillions.

When I lived in the city, it actually was possible to sit out on the front steps on hot nights and not have to spend all my time swatting myself.  Now that I live in the country, however, I wouldn't dare sit outside unless I had the Red Cross standing by, ready to administer a transfusion.

The first summer we lived in the country, my husband and I were so naïve, we actually sat out in lawn chairs in our yard one night.

"Do you hear a little ringing noise?" my husband asked me, looking around.

I glanced up and saw squadrons of mosquitoes lining up in "V" formation, preparing for attack.

 "I think they’re ringing a dinner bell," I answered.

I really envy the people who, for reasons unknown, do not appeal to mosquitoes.   My mother was one of those people.  She could stand naked outside with a "free vintage blood" sign hanging around her neck, and the mosquitoes would fly right past her.  I, on the other hand, could be hiding inside a giant Hefty bag behind a stack of boxes in a locked closet, and the mosquitoes still would find me.  To them, I figure I look like a giant bottle of fine, aged wine.

My late husband was even more appealing to mosquitoes than I am.  In fact, he was so popular with them, I suspected the mosquitoes were calling ahead to make dinner reservations for a choice spot on his body.  When they bit him, he immediately developed these golf-ball sized lumps that itched so intensely, he would end up frantically scratching himself with everything from his fingernails to a Brillo pad or the garden rake.  So, thanks to the little winged vampires, I usually ended up having to spend the whole summer with a man who was a mass of scabby lumps. 

We tried insect repellents, but they actually were worse than the mosquito bites.  Some of them had so many warning labels on them, they made me afraid to touch the stuff without using tongs and rubber gloves, so I definitely wasn't eager to slather it all over my body.  I even tried a few all-natural methods, such as taking garlic tablets (they say mosquitoes hate the smell of it) but I still attracted a swarm of bugs that obviously thought they'd found a new Italian restaurant.  I also tried a citronella-oil spray that even after several baths, still made me smell as if I should be sitting in a candle bucket on somebody's patio.

I then sent away for a little electronic device to carry with me. The device supposedly emitted a high-pitched noise that repelled mosquitoes.  It set me back $19.95 and it didn't repel a thing.  The mosquitoes even landed right on the device and sat there for a while...before savagely attacking me.

Not long ago, I noticed during my early evening walks that several other walkers were carrying what looked like small tennis rackets. I started wondering if there was a tennis court in my neighborhood I didn’t know about.

One early evening, I happened to meet another neighbor, Ken, who was out walking, and he fell into step with me. We were chatting and enjoying our walk when another couple, carrying rackets, walked past us.

“I hate those dumb rackets,” Ken said to me when the couple was out of earshot. “They look ridiculous.”

“What are they for?” I asked him, clueless.  

“They are portable bug zappers,” he said. “You swat the bugs with the racket and they get fried.”

I didn't want to admit it to him, but the racket sounded like a pretty great invention to me. And personally, I didn’t care how silly it looked to carry one. I mean, if someone told me that mosquitoes were afraid of clowns and wouldn’t go anywhere near one, you can bet I’d be wearing a Bozo (or Ronald McDonald) costume on my next walk.

And speaking of bug zappers, I’ve never really figured out how those fancy yard bug-zappers work.  The way I see it, the only bugs that are attracted to the lights in them are moths, and as far as I can tell, moths have never attacked anyone (well, unless the person was wearing an all-wool suit), so it really seems a shame to fry the poor little things. 

But even if those big bug-zappers do work on mosquitoes, I'd still hesitate to get one for my yard.  A report on the news not long ago stated that you shouldn't eat too near to a zapper because when the bugs explode, their little body parts can be propelled up to seven feet and land on your food.  So, although your outdoor barbecue might be free of annoying little pests, you could be serving moth spleens on your burgers.

I guess there's no sense complaining about it.  The mosquitoes are here and I have no choice but to try to live with them for the rest of the summer.

Meanwhile, I’m going to head over to my nearest Walmart. They’re having a big sale on those bug-zapping tennis rackets and I just might buy several of them in a variety of colors to match all of my outfits.

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