Jamaicans have an expression, “Everybody haffi eat a food”. It means that everyone has to survive. It’s a euphemism to cover various corrupt practices that essentially parcel out work or create work so that friedns and cronies can benefit from necessary activities. But, needing to eat food is real. Humans often forget that they are part of the food chain, and not always at the top. We have few natural predators looking for us, but they are there.
Yesterday, I became food. I was out in the afternoon with a lady at Caymanas Park Golf Course. So, were the mosquitoes. They respectfully greeted us as we arrived and accompanied us quietly and attentively as we progressed around the course. They were a little too attentive, at time, especially when we entered bushes to find balls or for some private moments. I’d been the centre of their attention earlier in the week, around dawn on Monday, and had been shocked by the way they did not seem to take breaks even as the sun came up strongly. I used ‘Off-Deep Woods’ (green), but it seemed to do little to deter and even less to repel. The mosquitoes congregated on my legs and arms, and on my shirt back, and down my neck. It was more than a little irritating. My arms were beginning to show weals: as far as I know, I’m not allergic, but I’m aware of diseases. Jamaica does not have malaria and I’ve lived where that’s present. We do have dengue fever, though.
I recalled a recent article about dealing with mosquitoes by having bats around. The article began ‘Plagued by mosquitoes? You might want to consider getting a bat. It might not be practical.’ Well, thanks for nothing. Admittedly, I couldn’t see myself walking around a golf course with a bat around my neck or hanging from my bag, like my water bottle. I don’t know if there’s good habitat for them in the woods around Caymanas, which so happens to be getting lopped as highway and water pipe works are underway.
I battled on. I was being eaten by mosquitoes and beaten by a man walking alongside me. Hard to saw which was worse for my play. It got to the point where I could not take anymore, on the final hole, thankfully, I could not deal with the piercing feeling in my arms as a bevy of mosquitoes took my moment’s stillness to assault me. I swung back my driver and hoped as it came forward to the ball. I made contact and let the club fly. My ball went all of 20 yards (over 200 yards is normal). Let’s say I did not score well on that hole, nor did I score well overall. As we arrived at the green, a fellow golfer, no less than the president of the Jamaica Golf Association, was talking on his cell phone. He had on long pants and they were tucked into his socks. “How’re you enjoying our mosquitoes?”
he asked. We told him “Not very much.” His attire was one possible solution next time; my shorts were cool but not near the right outfit for these conditions. He looked at us in admiration, though: “I had to stop. I couldn’t play,” he added. We’d played the whole round.
Dress is relevant. A website advises: ‘Camouflage: Wear clothing that helps you blend in with the background. Mosquitoes have vision similar to bees, so they hone in on color contrast and movement. This is especially so in wooded areas. Remember that mosquitoes are a predator, so take a lesson from nature and be hard to see!’. But, the predatory instinct is well-honed. ‘They are unique in the insect world for having excellent eyesight, enabling them to single out a moving mammal target from hundreds of feet away. They are also hyper-sensitive to the carbon dioxide exhaled by all mammals, and can also pick up the scent of a drop of sweat from half a mile away.’ Basically, golfers are sitting targets’. Golf courses tend to have standing water, and mosquitoes love that for breeding–fun in a water-bed, eh. But, overall, we cannot win, whatever we do, it seems. I cannot walk around with one of the electronic zappers.
- Part of the reason mosquitoes are so hard to eradicate is that the mosquito’s total lifespan is only twenty days on per-species average anyway, and some make their complete cycle in just four days. Their entire bodies are designed to do little else but eat, lay eggs, and die. Their eggs, however, can last a whole year before hatching.
- The annoying buzz of a mosquito’s wings is said by those who have perfect pitch to be between the musical keys of D and F. La-la-la.
- In a test of natural plants to see which one repels mosquitoes the best, it was discovered that clove oil is pretty effective. Too bad that it is also toxic to human skin! That’s going green, for you. 😛
The rains are just beginning for this year. We’ve had a very dry past three months. Mosquito eggs are ready to be hatched. Yesterday, was funny. When a heavy downpour came, the mozzies ran for cover, or really, went for a potty break. Once the rain stopped, the little fleet of Luftwaffe-like insects descended on us as if we were London ready to be blitzed.
An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cures? My wife would like me to use organic or natural methods, I’m sure, though I know she has stocked up on repellent sprays that are non-organic. 🙂 It’s about survival, baby. Well, I’d better start drinking my lemongrass tea–that worked really well in Guinea. I could walk with a few stalks of it, too, I guess. Mosquitoes don’t like mint, apparently, and I like mint tea, so maybe that’ll help too.
A luta continua, vitória é certa? Well, The struggle continues, but no victory is certain.