July 9, 2010 at 10:04 pm | In just_so, writing | 1 Comment

In the part of the world where I live, mosquitoes are not supposed to be a problem, and generally they aren’t. Until, that is, one or maybe two (and who knows: a possible legion of them!) appear in your bedroom …at night …waiting …waiting.

You have fallen asleep. Suddenly, the whining pitch known to anyone who has ever been pestered (what a great word), sounds in your sleeping (perchance dreaming) ear at close range – and zap!, you’re on alert, instantly.

Buh-bye, peaceful sleep.  The mosquito is about to feed – and you’re its victim. Consequently, I was up every hour or so of last night.

It began when, ninety minutes after going to sleep, I awoke because my legs were burning and itching and hurting from the multiple bites the mosquito had already inflicted. That was the first clue, Sherlock! Something’s up – or a-wing. Lights on, hunt starts.

After twenty futile minutes, lights out. Another ten minutes, and the beast strafes my ear, the signature whine too sovereign to ignore. Ok, …rinse and repeat with the search maneuvers. And rinse and repeat a few more times – it’s such a treat trying to go to bed more than once (or twice or five times or fifteen) a night. Meanwhile, the spouse, slightly annoyed at my sudden athletic solo moves on the bed as I swat with a washcloth at things seen and unseen on the wall near his head, continues to snooze. The mosquitoes don’t like him as much as they love me:

Mosquito prefer some people over others. The preferential victim’s sweat simply smells better than others because of the proportions of the carbon dioxide, octenol and other compounds that make up body odour [38]. The powerful semiochemical that triggers the mosquito’s keen sense of smell is nonanal.[39] A large part of the mosquito’s sense of smell, or olfactory system, is devoted to sniffing out human targets. Of 72 types of odour receptor on its antennae, at least 27 are tuned to detect chemicals found in perspiration.[40]

Visible, irritating bites are due to an immune response from the binding of IgG and IgE antibodies to antigens in the mosquito’s saliva. Some of the sensitizing antigens are common to all mosquito species, whereas others are specific to certain species. There are both immediate hypersensitivity reactions (Types I & III) and delayed hypersensitivity reactions (Type IV) to mosquito bites (see Clements, 2000). (source)

Great. My special friend with the terrifically annoying spit…

After a really long time, I decided to take my pillow and a sheet from the linen closet to the downstairs sofa. We’ve had a bit of warm weather lately, and it was a lot cooler downstairs. I figured it would be more comfortable downstairs, and that the mosquito would probably continue to lurk upstairs.

But after a while I woke up, freezing. Spare blanket to the rescue, and another attempt at sleeping. Failing (repeatedly), I decided by early morning to return to my more cushy upstairs mattress, and the comforts of a proper duvet. By the time I woke up again, the day really had begun. Alas, I looked like I felt (death warmed over), and the world can count itself lucky that I don’t have a job controlling nuclear reactors. If I did, my special friend the mosquito could easily have caused a melt-down with consequence, versus the little Armageddon the day that followed last night turned into for me.

I’m not too sanguine (pun) about tonight. I’m sure the beast is still hiding in my room somewhere – and it doesn’t even go bump in the night. Just bzzzeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee at close range.

1 Comment

  1. So, here on Cortes Island the resident mosquito clan found me within hours of arriving. In the past I have resorted to a battery powered tennis racket designed to kill. I am now on to my third model which floodlights the mosquito just before I strike with my overhead volley. On impact there is a very satisfying cracking sound – a bit like lightning.

    I try not to look like Suzanne Lenglen but I can’t help it.

    Comment by Christina Mitchell — July 12, 2010 #

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