As warmer weather settles in, most winter-weary Canadians plan at least a few calm evenings outdoors, hosting a barbecue for friends and perhaps enjoying a glass of wine as the sun sets.
And then there are people like me who dread dusk and dawn out of doors as we become unwilling buffets for bugs to feast upon. Mosquito experts say the annoying biters are more attracted to some people than others and I’m definitely one of the ones they find eye-catching. As if mosquito bites weren’t bad enough, now we have to concern ourselves with the spread of the West Nile Virus, too.
We skeeter snacks have tried everything: long-sleeved white shirts, a complete absence of artificial scents, and swatting wildly like a windmill. I’ve done my best to avoid harsh chemicals but the so-called environmentally friendly products I’ve tried haven’t helped at all.
Citronella candles smell lovely but in my experience they are no better at keeping bugs at bay than an aroma of vanilla or sandlewood. I suspect that the mosquito-repelling quality of Avon’s Skin So Soft products is an urban legend, although it has kept my skin soft as it’s being nibbled on. That old standby, Off!, works briefly but it needs to be reapplied as often as cheap lipstick.These days, everyone and their Birkinstock-wearing Auntie is touting a homemade remedy for keeping bugs away, in hopes of turning people off of using products containing the potentially harmful chemical DEET.
These kitchen concoctions use ingredients like Witch Hazel, essential oils, dried herbs, vinegar and even vodka.
Perhaps it’s fun to watch drunk mosquitoes try to find a vein but I am sceptical, and, frankly don’t have the time to try these recipes until I find one that works.
Bug zappers have been around for some time now but since I last checked them out, they’ve morphed into everything from solar lights to hand-held versions that look like tennis rackets. They range wildly in price, from $15 to several hundred dollars.
Traps come in many varieties, too, and the DIY set tout their own methods for attraction. It seems to me that getting rid of standing water is more effective than trying to catch the living creatures. Municipalities in mosquito-prone areas stop them before they’re born by using larvicides.
A Canadian company called Greenstrike is touting its Mosquito Preventer, a method for interrupting mosquito reproduction. Their container doesn’t merely zap or trap the insects. It mimics an inviting pond environment and entices females to lay their eggs inside, where it disposes of them, ensuring there will be fewer hungry babies to grow up and feed on you. The Mosquito Preventer is designed to become a maternity ward where the babies never go home. When females visit the container, they give off a hormone that attracts their girlfriends, who will think, they, what a nice place to lay my eggs, too.
Greenstrike says its tests in some of the most mosquito-prone areas of the world, such as Africa and Guatemala, brought in an average of 8,000 eggs a day. It also claims one female bloodsucker can beget 30,000 descendents in just three weeks.
After spending so much time planning for the demise of mosquitoes, I felt it only fair to research why they’re on our planet in the first place. Surely they must do some good in the world? They’re an important factor in the aquatic ecosystem where their larvae are eaten by fish and the adults serve as food for spiders, bats and birds. In the food chain, mosquitoes are about as low as you can go. so I conclude that swatting, buzzing and trapping them are all part of the circle of life.