Me and the Evil Little Beasties

Writer Anne Lamott bluntly cautioned with, “One hundred years from now? All new people.” Why let irritations toward others dominate our lives? We should enjoy life more since we won’t be around all that long. I agree, except when the other is a mosquito, like the mean airborne critter Aedes aegypti.

To paraphrase Ms. Lamott: Two weeks from now? All new mosquitoes.

Yikes!

Fourteen days is the life span— egg, larva, pupa, adult, relentless blood-sucking, death—of the winged tormenters. Since I’m a cranky old guy, I recall the quaint mosquitoes of yesteryear. Aedes Way Back When would arrive in late spring. They scurried hither and yon for a few months. As summer faded, Aedes Way Back When vanished.

Not with Aedes aegypti. According to my non-research, the Latin Aedes aegypti translates to: evil little beasties. Nowadays, I dread my backyard. All day long, in whatever season, they wait to pounce. Aedes aegypti are pint-sized, rarely heard, and prefer cruising below the radar while hunting feet, ankles, calves, and the random soft inner thigh.

I hate Aedes aegypti. As someone who dislikes former President Trump, I’ve had many MAGA stalwarts berate me for “hating” him. No way! I’m a retired pastor. Though a grumpy Christian, I love my neighbor. I’ve never hated anyone. But Aedes aegypti? Maybe I could even bring myself to hate Noah and his storm-tossed ark. Why’d he give Aedes aegypti a ticket to ride?

I made an appointment with mosquito abatement professionals. How could I reduce the incessant insect invaders? A pleasant expert arrived, brochures in hand, his face mask drifting below his nose. He wandered my yard, finding two flower pot plates with standing water.

“Better drain those,” he cautioned.

 â€œOkay. What else?” I asked.

“The rest looks fine.”

“Two pots? That’s it?”

“Well, this might help.” He handed me a brochure. Nice color pictures. Big print.

Perhaps the brochure will help if I roll it up and swat the mosquitoes, I thought. (But didn’t say.)

He added, “I’ll give your neighbors brochures so they’ll know what to do.”

Great. Maybe my neighbors will roll up their brochures and together we’ll scare the bejesus outta Aedes aegypti as we attack ‘em one smack at a time?

He left. While chatting with him in my yard I got two mosquito bites. I scampered indoors to study the brochure. I learned Aedes aegypti can lay 100 eggs in a dribble of water and will lay eggs three times during their two-week lifespan. Yikes!

Mosquitoes are not only part of my lousy present, but buzzed my past.

On a backpack trip with a church group, Sam was one of the hikers. Sam had a plan to thwart mosquitoes as we tramped into the mountains. He brought a stash of garlic cloves. He’d read that garlic is an excellent deterrent. I can’t speak for the mosquitoes, but Sam’s fragrance caused me to avoid him. Did we have fewer mosquitoes because of Sam’s garlic consumption? Maybe, but I do know we weren’t troubled by vampires. Garlic anyone?

About the only time I’ve seen my wife angry involved skeeters. She was helping with a youth group activity—another church backpack—and volunteered to fix breakfast eggs. She was swarmed, with the critters circling her head and assailing her naked hand gripping the spatula. She waved her free hand, desperately trying to prepare breakfast for the starving youth. Like Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s The Birds, there came a breaking point. Screaming, my wife swung the egg-encrusted spatula at mosquitoes. I believe, in a lake basin in the Sierra, you could still find petrified freeze-dried egg goop on certain tree trunks. But love is strong, and she would accompany me on more mountain sojourns—as long as I served her breakfast in the tent. Every marriage needs compromises.

I hate Aedes aegypti.

While cowering in my house, I read the brochure’s warning that Aedes aegypti will happily live inside homes during the winter. Some have laid eggs in coffee makers. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted several Aedes aegypti sneaking in through the pet door.

All were lugging suitcases. Yikes!

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