Wednesday, January 3, 2007

One Mosquito...

... can ruin your whole night. Particularly when you live in a country where it's too warm to sleep under the covers, or even clothed.

Now that the dry season has arrived, the insects have reappeared in force. I am seeing spiders on the floor, sugar ants everywhere, crane flies, moths, and the occasional mosquito. And the dreaded noseeums...

Anyway, by 3 am last night I had a cluster of mosquito bites on my left hip, another on my left shoulder and another on my left arm. I must have been sleeping on my right side.

Enough was enough. I applied this wonderfully effective cream called Systral (active ingredient chlorphenoxamine) to the bites, then I put on socks, jeans, and a long sleeved linen summer shirt. I opened the windows to the night breeze, turned the ceiling fan on the lowest setting, and went back to sleep. I still got another bite on the back of my hand.

But I've learned that mosquitos are to be appreciated and commended for the moderation of their bites. There are much worse buggers out there, like the noseeums, also known as midges or sand flies, shown greatly magnified at right. In Spanish they are called purrujas. These little monsters swarm in the late afternoon and around dusk, and they will drop a cluster bomb of bites on your ankles, legs and arms before you even know what hit you.

These bites are nasty, far more irritating than mosquito bites, and they last much longer. With mosquito bites I slap on a bit of Systral cream and leave them alone, and within a matter of hours I forget all about them. Noseeum bites, however, persist for days, and the itch is maddening. The bites are much more prominent and raised, with a crimson red spot in the center. Systral cream soothes the itch only a tiny bit. I hate these little devils! I always wear long pants now when I go outside, and sometimes I smear on some insect repellent oil. I recently learned that they lay eggs in water and rotting vegetable matter, so perhaps I should reconsider my compost pile and simply burn the waste like everyone else does here.

The University of California at Davis, Calif., a well known agricultural and environmental center (and the one from which my parents graduated), reports that no-see-ums will bite humans, domestic and wild animals and birds. They also may feed on other insects. Voracious!

But they say that God created everything for a purpose, right? And guess what? Noseeums are responsible for pollinating cocoa trees. So, no sand flies, no chocolate! I suppose I can put up with a few bites now and then...

2 comments:

Laura in Panama said...

Ahh, how I look forward to being served as the evening buffet when I return home. While away visiting family and friends in California my skin has healed from all such bites and bothers leaving behind only scars on honor from those really, really nasty bites that I just couldn't let alone.

Anonymous said...

Back from CR for a week now, and I can stop scratching my noseeum bites in the day (at least I think that's what they are), but I scratch in my sleep. The itch is maddening!