Monday, May 31, 2010

The War On Mosquitos . . . We're Losing!

If terrorists ever successfully weaponize mosquitos, I’m in trouble. (Ditto white chocolate covered pretzels.) Because, for whatever reason, I’m a mosquito’s favorite dish. My scent is so preferential to them that the White House should consider having me travel alongside President Obama, just in case. But, until they call on me to serve my country, I’ll be managing all outdoor evening activities by perfuming myself up like a Chemistry lab. My only other option to smelling so artificially toxic (we’ve established I must smell naturally sweet) is to risk being feasted on by enough mosquitos to ensure a subsequent Benadryl induced coma. And while I could use the rest, I really don’t have time for a coma.
Why are mosquitos so viciously angry anyway? Are they still holding a grudge because we nearly annihilated them in the 40s and 50s in the heyday of DDT? DDT being the thing I missed out on most by being born in the late seventies after bird-loving environmentalists convinced weak-minded elected government officials to ban its use because it may cause cancer (and definitely makes birds sick). Um, excuse me, but is there anything out there that doesn’t cause cancer? We live in a world where preservatives in our food, compounds in our shampoo, and invisible beams from our microwaves all threaten us daily. So, why can’t we risk sitting outside comfortably at dusk? I argue that the insecticidal DDT got a bad rap and people spent too much time speculating about its potential harm to bio-ecosystems (this may or may not be a real word), and too easily discounted how it saved millions of lives by reducing malaria and typhus, subsequently diminishing their mortality rates. And, DDT is only classified as “moderately toxic” by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, whereas mosquito bites are classified as “severely annoying” by anyone who’s ever been plagued by them. And, for the record, there are McDonald’s menu items that have been classified as “extremely toxic” by the same U.S. National Toxicology Program and no one’s banned the Big Mac.
When I was sixteen, I spent two weeks on Merritt Island, off the coast of Florida, where mosquitos are bred, indoctrinated, and then sent forth into the continental United States to bleed us dry. Had I known in advance that I would be given over as an offering to the irate throng of bloodsuckers, in order to spare the lives of fellow teenagers, I certainly would have chosen a different summer adventure. Because there, at Mosquito Central Command, over-the-counter bug repellents and home remedies were scoffed at. These mosquitos had evolved and mutated to be resistant. I would have given my right arm for some DDT that summer. Though no one would have taken it because it was mutilated by the mosquitos.
And now mosquitos have the greater threat of West Nile Virus, a disease that claimed the lives of thirty people last year. And yeah, thirty isn’t a lot. Not even close to the mortality rate that can be attributed to McDonald’s. But if you’re as sought after by mosquitos as me, it’s cause for concern. The CDC assures us that most people infected by West Nile Virus only suffer a fever or possibly a coma and convalescence. Yeah, that sounds great, sign me up for that. On second thought, maybe I’ll just stay indoors.


  1. I love your blog, Heather! I look forward to reading it every week. Keep up the brilliant work.

  2. I've been told that if you eat a lot of bananas, the mosquitos are drawn to you, and eating a lot of tomatoes repels them.

    I eat more bananas than tomatoes, and they love me as much as they love you. Nathan hardly eats either and they don't go near him.

    Either way, I hear the best thing ever still for mosquito repellent is good old Avon Skin So Soft Bath oil. You should ask Jenn F to hook you up. At least then you won't smell toxic. And you might even get softer skin to boot. :)