Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Mosquito

One time in Montenegro we thumbed a lift and were dropped off by an old walled town called Kotor.

Kotor is set on a deeply indented bay surrounded by towering mountains. Its walls crumble quietly into the surroundings and there are old churches and fortifications. It was gloriously undiscovered, almost too much so, as we found when we located a ramshackle courtyard cafe that served nothing more than Coke in rusty old cans.



It was before the war and old men muttered darkly about conflict in Kosovo. In the event the conflict arrived closer to the Adriatic at first, in Croatia and then Bosnia.

In the former Yugoslavia in those days it was never hard to find accommodation. Women would crowd you as soon as you got off the bus offering to put you up in their places. We chose a pleasant home down on the shore and crashed out for the night. But about 30 minutes into my sleep I was woken up by an unpleasant buzzing in my ear. I swatted something away but it returned again just as sleep came on.

I switched on the light and saw small black specs on the wall. The whole room was infested with mosquitoes.

For the next two hours I declared war on the mosquitoes, killing droves of them with a rolled up newspaper from my bed. Yet, every time I returned to sleep, the pesky buzzing would return to my ear, as they sought to suck my blood. It wasn't the most pleasant night's sleep I had ever had.

Which brings me to mosquitoes. These insects are a family of small, midge-like flies: the Culicidae.

Unlike most of the other creatures featured here, mosquitoes have absolutely nothing good going for them.  The mosquito is, in fact, the most deadly of creatures.

It has been estimated that mosquitoes transmit diseases to almost 700 million people annually resulting in 2 to 3 million deaths every year.

Those itchy, pesky bites are due to an immune response from the binding of IgG and IgE antibodies to antigens in the mosquito's saliva, apparently.

Some of the goodies transmitted by mosquitoes include:

  • Viral diseases, such as yellow fever, dengue fever and Chikungunya.
  • The parasitic diseases collectively called malaria.
  • Lymphatic filariasis - the main cause of elephantiasis.
  • West Nile Virus, which occurs in the United States as well as other places.
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus
  • Tulaemina

  • I am particularly paranoid about mosquitoes, particularly after reading this. Mosquitoes like my skin. I'm looking around me nervously as I write this, even though I'm in Starbucks.

    Useless Fact About the Mosquito

    The females are the ones to watch for, not that you can really tell gender if one is on your skin. In many species, the female has to obtain nutrients from a blood meal before she can produce eggs. For female mosquitoes  to risk their lives on blood sucking while bloke mosquitoes abstain, also occurs in some other insect families, such as the Tabanidae.

    What Not to Say to a Mosquito

    Come on. Do your worst sucker.


    28 comments:

    1. I hate insects of all kinds and these are especially vile. The room infested with mosquitoes sounds like something out of a horror movie to me, ugh.

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      1. hey Julie - it was not the most pleasant night of my life...

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      1. oh yeah you must get the scary ones in South Africa...

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    3. Our pediatrician informed me once that mosquitoes tend to prefer the blood of red-heads, much to the chagrin of my 2 gingers.

      TaMara
      Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

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      1. uh uh not good TaMara - well they sure like mine tho I'm not a ginger.

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    4. Evil creatures they are.....and the black flies in Maine too.

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      1. hmm not aware of those JoJo but they don't sounds like fun..

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    5. I'm actually quite fond of insects. Mosquitoes however I could do without. They are like miniature vampires playing the kazoo. The only good mosquito is one that becomes a bat's midnight snack.

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      1. Miniature vampires playing the kazoo - love it Elise..

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    6. Little bastard bugs that like to buzz around your ear when you're trying to sleep. They do it on purpose, I know it!

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      1. they have one evil cunning plan Patricia

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    7. I give you credit for waging war on them. More than likely I would have been packing up my bag and finding somewhere else to spend the night. Yuck!

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      1. killing them was fun up to a point Tracy...

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    8. Oh how I hate mosquitoes! They always seem to find me even when no one else is getting bitten. That room infested with them you talk about sounds like a real-life nightmare.

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      1. I know Daisy - one can have nightmares about this - well this experience was a nightmare

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    9. I strongly dislike mosquitoes! One summer night my mother got after me for being outside so long after dark and getting so many mosquitoe bites. Come to find out I actually had the chicken pox!

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      1. hmm sounds like a fun summer evening Marcy, thx for visiting

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    10. The mosquito happens to be the unofficial state bird of Minnesota. Yes! One more wonderful reason to live here! Kidding, but not kidding.

      . . . and I'm like you, they flock to me and love on me. Yuck!

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      1. OMG for real Deborah - couldn't they like have found a bird..

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    11. Your making me itchy now! I'm lucky (touch wood) that they don't seem to bit me to much, mainly just my legs. I find that impulse works a treat! The ladies body spray.

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      1. hmm Rowena - am I desperate enough to use Impulse tho??

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    12. I'm looking around me nervously as I write this, even though I'm in Starbucks. - There's all kinds of other mosquitoes in there mate!

      I hate them David but they love me. Even if I'm just in my own back garden, of a summer evening (Yeah, like that's regular) I cover myself in deet. I have an allergic reaction to their poisonous bites and end up looking like I've got mumps.

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      1. hmmm Juliette - a nice look indeed - maybe you can be a catalogue model for Deet.

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    13. I love mosquitoes!!
      - said no one ever.

      My brother and I got dengue fever and my dad got malaria, so mosquitoes are not high up on our list of favorite animals.

      ~ D is for Deecoded ~

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      1. wow Dee - you have the first hand experience none of us want, glad you made a recovery.

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    14. Hi David,

      I can't stand mosquitoes. I can't even enjoy my yard in the summer without getting bit by one. They even bother me in my office building at work. The company I work for just bought Sector Mosquito Spray to treat the office, hoping for the best. Good luck to you this summer dealing with those menaces!

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    15. "The mosquito is, in fact, the most deadly of creatures." I couldn't agree more with this! Can you imagine how a small bite can already take your life? That's why we have to make sure that wherever we are protected from mosquitoes or insect bites wherever we go. There are a lot of insect repellants we can use for preventive measures too.

      -Eagle Pest and Chemical

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