Friday, October 21, 2011

Mosquitoes: The Return

This summer was a relatively “mosquito-free” one for us here on the Gulf Coast. By that I mean that they were not thick in your face from June through September. The drought has taken its toll on the population of mosquitoes for the year. This season has been pretty good for humans who wanted to go outside and still keep all of their blood inside their skin. Of course, the lack of rain has pummeled the lawns and trees and foundations mercilessly.

But now, since we had four-and-a-half inches of rain a couple of weeks ago, the evil bloodsuckers have returned with a vengeance. They have a collective ingrained hatred for the mammals that mill aimlessly in the cities and towns here beside the Gulf of Mexico. They have no love for us but for the hemoglobin that flows through our veins and capillaries that come so close to the surface of our skin. And them with their evil little snoots that so easily pierce our thin skin and their toxic saliva that keeps our blood from clotting up in their straws and foiling their feeding time. The saliva that makes us itch so badly.

There are several varieties of the little devils; some so small that they can weasel themselves through the screens that cover the windows. They can get in like smoke, any opening, any crevice, any thin spot in the solid brick. Some are big as mockingbirds, with a nasty streak a mile wide. The tiny ones, ironically, are the ones that produce the most itchy bites, and the big, hefty, muscular marsh ‘skeeters, while you can feel them light upon a parka with the daintiness of a mule deer, leave you itching for a much shorter time. Except for the two stitches or perhaps just a steri-strip to close the wound, you are usually not much the worse for wear.

Today I stopped by the Soderberg Farm and Chicken Resort for a visit and to snitch a load of satsuma tangerines. There is a good crop of them this year, burdening the poor trees. Preparing for the harvest, I sprayed my arms, neck and face down with mosquito repellent. Just the exposed skin, no need to shower in the stuff.

I rounded the green house, armed with the snippers and double HEB bags to take this weekend’s citrus, and as I neared the trees, I became aware of a hum rising from the grass and low-hanging limbs that sounded like an aircraft carrier full of idling P-40’s ready for an assault in the Battle for the Pacific. “I’m ‘skeeter-doped up and they won’t bite me through it...” I smugly thought. But as i edged in to grab some of the fruits, the demons rose to meet me in great black, buzzing clouds, and I felt their collective weight descend on my clothes as they tried to stake a claim on the acres of blood-rich real estate.

They flew up, some lit on my hands, arms and neck, and as I was certain that it would only be momentary, and when they get a taste of the DEET, they’d fly away. Wrong. These beasts were hungry and not easily deterred. They bit through the DEET, spit, made a face and then went back to their meal. They flew to my hairline, behind my ears, up my nose, even my eyebrows. And had I known that they were going to try to suck blood out of my corneas, I would have sprayed the Deep Woods Off directly into my eyes!

I picked as many tangerines as I could, braving the waves of biting and humming and jostling insects, trying to brush away several intrepid fliers that sneaked behind my glasses with my eyelashes. Every now and again I backed off to find another branch of likely candidates, and as I walked the ravenous hordes followed me; in my face on my shirt on the legs of my Wranglers and even my boots. They were not to be deterred. When the bag was full, or at least appeared full by weight, my vision obscured by flying vipers as it was, I made my way to where I thought I had parked my car. The door was locked. I fumbled my keys out of my pocket to unlock and stow my produce inside, but I instead plopped the fruit on top of the car, to return later when I was ready to blast off.

When the time came to make a hasty exit after going back inside to retrieve some other items, I asked my Dad where the pump .22 was. He asked why and I told him to cover me as I ran to the car! I dashed out there, found the keys where I left them in the door, unlocked as quickly as I could and flopped in the driver’s seat, slamming the hatch behind me. I noticed that the cockpit was filled with mosquitoes, and they all had evil on their minds. As I drove down the road at a speed unbecoming an adult, I had the back windows open to blow out the invaders.

Upon arriving home, I found the fresh propane bottle and applied it to my intrepid fogger. I went to the business of smoking out the crop of them that resides around my house, whirling around the front door in a hungry cyclone of wings and snouts. I walked around the house a couple of times with my smoke machine of death. I didn’t spend the same amount of time that I usually like to, since I’m low on poison. But the satisfaction was there, a hark back to the days of daily rain and standing water.

The never-ending battle of Man vs. Mosquito, after a summer off, has returned for a (hopefully) final battle before the winter hiatus (such that it is around here) and maybe, just maybe, I’ll survive until I get more spray, granules and smoke juice for a renewed attack on the sly mosquito in the spring.


Carla said...

I have yet to figure out Mosquitoes place in the world. Why are they here except to torment us? Just tossing that question to the universe.

Anonymous said...

You are so right in portraying that these mosquitos seem to have come with armor and a mission. I hate those little bastards!

C'mon cold front!!!

aA said...

Carla: I have posed that question many times myself and have resigned to blaming it on Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man...

PaChomp: I'm with ya...or you're with me...I can't figure that out just yet.

robertSpence said...

I got this link from your FB info page and have been reading a number of your posts. Great blog, you have here! I'm betting you posted some on Ike, so I'll do some digging in the archives.

As for mosquitoes, I get my fill of the little bastards; I live within a block of White Oak Bayou (inside the 610 Loop) and close to a few of its branching gullies.