The truth about mosquitoes

Mosquitoes belong to that elite group of creatures that feed on humans, along with sharks, tigers and velociraptors. Sharks are easy to avoid: just never go near any water deeper than a bath. Tigers very rarely fly through your bedroom window at night and velociraptors are known to be picky eaters, mostly preferring Jeff Goldblum.

You can’t argue with a science diagram

Mosquitoes are less likely to leave you needing hospitalization, unless you live in the malaria belt, but they are everywhere—especially in Poland this year. According to the news, there are an unusually large number of mosquitoes around because of all the standing water left behind by the floods. Nonsense I say—it’s because they shot all the beavers. It’s not well known but beavers are implacable in their hatred of mosquitoes and spend much of their time wiping them out—have you ever seen a beaver’s tail: it’s a highly efficient mosquito swatter built right onto the body. Beavers hate mosquitoes so much they sometimes fell trees with their teeth just to knock the buggers out of the air. All that business with dams is an excuse to spend time near rivers so they have more opportunities to kill mosquitoes.

Beavers: the mosquito nemesis

The big difference between mosquitoes and other human-eaters such as tigers, sharks and velociraptors is that the latter at least have the decency to sever and remove the parts of your body they are feeding on. Mosquitoes leave them stubbornly attached to rest of your central nervous system so you can enjoy the torturous itching for several days. If you’re going to bite my legs seventeen times, just take them with you—they’re really no use to me any more.

Read my Open Letter to Mosquitoes

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15 thoughts on “The truth about mosquitoes

  1. Steve says:

    I was once told about an EU consultancy programme (well before Polish membership), to show Polish farmers the ill-effects of DDT and the beneficial effects of other less-toxic insecticides. The “stupid” Polish farmers then continued to use DDT “just” because the other insecticides they were trained to use didn’t kill mosquitoes. The man telling the story got very annoyed with me when I said it was the stupidity of the consultants who had completely failed to diagnose the problem – he hadn’t said he was one of them. My sympathy remains with the farmers of the time.

    The household insecticides have kept the mosquitoes out of the house and largely away from the table on the patio. They seem to completely ignore the body sprays, though, which made working or even walking in the garden difficult after 7.00pm in the hot spell, whilst the heat drove me out (up to 47c in the sun) after 10.00am. Neither the abundance of house martins (too high in the air) or frogs (too low on the ground) seems to have made any difference. Sadly, it’s not beaver country.

  2. Pete says:

    Are you aware that only female mosquitoes bite? The males are already dead having been used for only one purpose and then discarded. At least they went with a smile :-)
    The “young mothers” then need to provide for their newly fertilized eggs. Your blood will do just fine, thanks!

  3. PMK says:

    Too bad rivers like the Wisla can’t be stocked with Tilapia (they eat mosquito larvae.) Shit would be so cash.

  4. @ PMK – the problem is not with the Vistula but with the deep puddle across the road from our house.

  5. Karl says:

    I’ve noticed that the mosquito repellent available in Poland is completely ineffective. Heck, sometimes things seems to get worse when you use it. Next year, I’m bring along something with DEET in it, from the states.

  6. polkaontheisland says:

    One Russian told me that they’ve got something really useful, but he refuses to export it. Bloody plain crashers…

  7. PMK says:

    @MD, true, true (plus puddles in Kabaty, plus ponds in various parks like Lazienki), plus bird baths and not-quite-drained fountains, but also some types of mosquitos can breed in slightly moving water like the Wisla.

    I would recommend: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128512803
    Listen to the interview. It’s really interesting.

  8. Neil says:

    I hate the little buggers, for some reason they always bite me and rarely my wife whist we sleep at night – she says it’s because I have sweet blood which sounds like absolute bollocks but I do sometimes wonder.

    The best thing you can do though is if you happen to notice one munching on an arm or leg of yours is to wait until it has a reasonable fill then flex the muscle it’s tapped into then watch the bloody carnage as the little fucker explodes.

  9. Lee says:

    After spending nearly two weeks in rural Olszyna and not receiving any bites despite daily walks around the ponds, lakes and forests we spent 36 hours in Wroklaw and I turned into a walking all you can eat buffet.

    BTW, if you can source it, Avon’s “Skin So Soft” works wonders on repelling them, dont ask me how but it works, and you get soft skin with it :)

  10. island1 says:

    Ah yes, an old but particularly satisfying trick.

  11. Malcolm says:

    Apparently if you take vitamin B6 the mosquitoes don’t attack you – it’s on Wiki Answers, so it must be true…

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Does_vitamin_b6_act_as_mosquito_repellent

    (Of course this is an old wives tale. But some people swear by it)

  12. @PMK – at first I thought ‘Great. America’s eradicated malaria’. Then I got into the India narrative. Fascinating, the differences between the author and her cousins – thanks for the link.

    Having lived through The Mosquito Plague Of ’97, this year’s nowhere near so bad. Back then, I moved into an unfurnished house in Pyry in late July, my family and furniture following a month later. It was me, a mattress and 200 splatted corpses of mosquitos on the walls and ceilings of my bedroom. The landlord had to repaint the place. It was macabre. This year is worse, mosquito-wise, than 1997, but no great shakes.

  13. That should be of course “no worse” than ’97.

  14. […] conclusion qui a du sens. Voici deux exemples pour illustrer mes propos : Polish driving skills ou The truth about mosquitoes. On y trouve également des infos utiles tels qu’une revue de blogs en langue anglaise en […]

  15. It seems that those who eat a lot of garlic are less attractive to the mosquitoes. Also taking B complex seems to leave a smell on the skin they don’t like. Shalimar perfume, on the other hand, they LOVE.

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