I can’t put my finger on exactly when I became a gourmet meal for the mosquito fraternity, but it happened sometime ago. Apparently there is something about my blood or sweat – I don’t know which – that makes mosquitoes message one another and before you know it the word spreads, and I am their moving meal. Stay out of the way of the flailing arms, they say, and you can have a feast.
There was apparently something about the writer and historian H G Wells’s sweat too that attracted creatures. Mosquitoes ignored him, however, but pretty women fell for him. Life is so unfair.
I have just been reminded of mosquitoes thanks to some virii (or viruses, if you prefer) they carried and passed on to me. Perhaps they were protesting against the quality of my recent blood or hoping to enhance its taste by garnishing it thus. It’s very difficult to read a mosquito’s mind. You and I might not walk into a gourmet restaurant and inject its main meal with a virus for a better experience, but mosquitoes have no such compunction. This is one of the differences between them and us.
They take what they like, and if they don’t, they add taste-enhancers. Or do what Napoleon’s retreating army did in Russia, where they followed a scorched earth policy, destroying everything in sight. Mosquitoes are reminders that we don’t have to be big and strong to create havoc. The Dalai Lama has often been quoted as saying, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” There are few things more irritating in life than the single mosquito.
“It is astonishing how much worse one mosquito can be than a swarm,” wrote F Scott Fitzgerald. “A swarm can be prepared against, but one mosquito takes on a personality—a hatefulness, a sinister quality of the struggle to the death.”
I may be doing mosquitoes a disservice here. They might not have carried the virii going through the various life cycles in my blood now; maybe they were helping out a friend. Or merely reminding us that it was a virus-driven sickness, the flu, that killed more people during the First World War than the shooting and firing and bombing did. Taking false credit is a well-known mosquito tactic.
The internet is full of advice on how to deal with mosquitoes. It includes everything from herbal sprays to wearing the right clothes. But these creatures have been around for at least 79 million years. That’s a lot of spraying and change of clothes they have survived. They have earned the right to respect. Alternatively, we can tell them to buzz off.
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