Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mosquito Showdown

They came last February. Or at least that's when I encountered them while visiting Sal in San Francisco for a late Valentine's day or something like that. One morning Sal woke up with a lip swollen from what I shall now call a Mosquito Kiss. Curious, we though, to get a bug bite on your mouth. It went all downhill from there.

I got over seventeen mosquito bites on my arms during my brief stay for less than a week. Mosquitoes like me. The feeling is anything but mutual. I spent nights awake because the damn things managed to somehow find our ears just as we were slipping from twilight into deep sleep and BUZZ us awake like a menacing too-early alarm clock.

imagine twenty on one arm. yeah.
During another visit, they were at it again. How are they getting in? Perhaps through our giant windows without screens? Perhaps. Screens for these windows would cost too much and it didn't seem like a splurge we were willing to make. So I decided to try and capture the little bastards. And by capture I mean squish against the wall.

Since they liked to land on the ceiling and it was difficult to reach them, I devised a method of killing that included a long wooden rod that in a previous life was used as to hang clothes from in a closet. Due to extreme lack of storage space, we removed all the rods from our extremely shallow closets and replaced the dead space with shelves. So the rod was just leaning against the wall and I thought, why not? I learned that you can't just swoop in at them. Mosquito killing requires a steady, focused patience. There I stood, in my underwear, eye mask around my forehead, quietly smashing mosquitoes against our walls.

Mosquito killing is a messy business. While researching why mosquitoes always seemed to find us in bed (they are attracted to heat, body odor, and carbon dioxide, which are highly concentrated in the air with two people in bed), I also learned that the little fuckers bite all animals and the bitten are called the bloodhost. Yes. We're wandering into weird vampire territory here. Because they vant to suuuck your blooood ah ah ah! and they DO suck your blood, when you kill a mosquito, there's bright red blood splatter. Beyond gross.

When I finally moved out here this summer, the bites were getting ridiculous and Sal had moved the Mosquito Killer 1000 (aka: wooden rod) to the garage. He was not as affected by the bugs at first. They didn't bite him as much. I needed a new killing mechanism. But what long object also has a flat surface on one end?

Enter the Swiffer.

Yes folks, your Swiffer mop (preferably dry mop, because it's lighter) can double as a bug killer, particularly mosquitoes. I no longer had to aim and kill with a 2 inch circle. I had a whole field of space with which to squish! Plus, attached a tissue to the flat surface provided easy cleanup. I got really good at this. I'd wake up in the middle of the night to kill them. I knew where they hid in the apartment: curtains, behind clothes, the side of the nightstand. The dumb ones were on the wall beside our heads. I got those ones easily. Some nights though, the finesse required for killing escaped me and I just couldn't find the little sucker. Soon they multiplied. We'd have four or five in the room at night. I'd think I got them all, only to be bitten by another. It also turns out I have an allergic reaction to the bites, so they itch and swell up and ooze and itch and leave lasting marks. Fun stuff.

Through all of these, we learned to sleep completely beneath the sheets, myself waking up sweaty each morning, and mostly bite-free. That didn't always help though because they found my face, since I just can't breath with my head under the covers. One night while I was particularly hysterical from sleep deprivation, Sal made me a head protection device (an old T-shirt with a hole cut out for breathing). I'd wear this with my eye mask, only my nose peaking out to breath the cold night air.

Many times during our nightly battles one of us would suggest buying a mosquito net. It was just never something we thought about during the day. Plus, they are kind of ultra-romantic, not really style. A few weeks ago, I finally broke down and researched to find the best one online, which is of course called the Dreamscape Hoop Canopy, and it arrived in a ridiculously over-sized box. It was fun to put together. That's Sal, tying the canopy to the hoop. Not sure which part is the dreamscape.

I almost wept the first night we slept safely beneath the mesh layers. One little guy did get through that night, but Sal turned on the light and ushered him out the opening. Sal whispered to open my eyes and look above my head. Perched on the net were at least five mosquitoes, surrounding me, waiting for the bloodhost. Vultures. It was seriously like The Birds up in here. Creeptastic.

I still have to kill the occasional blood bug when I'm in the living room or bathroom. One got my arm good yesterday evening while I was on the couch. Eventually, we'lll need screens in the windows. But it feels so good to sleep through the night again. And if poetry doesn't work out for me, I can always pursue my backup career as an insect exterminator.

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