After working hard this previous weekend in getting a project completed and then enjoying the fruits of the near completion of the project, I sat on the swing on our front porch and enjoyed a brief rain shower. My mind floated from one subject to another regarding both the project, a book I am working on, and this column. Then I felt a slight sting on my left calf. There it was a pesky mosquito. I swatted at it and cashed in a direct hit. A few moments later I staggered into the house, my wife alarmed by my condition. All I could voice was “the mosquito slapped me back!”
Around thirty years ago a tire shipment to Texas brought along a few aliens. Since then, the Asian tiger mosquito has populated 27 states including our very own North Carolina. In fact, North Carolina is one of the few states where it has been spotted in every county. Decorated in rich black with small white bands, the little beast is easy to identify.
It is also very aggressive. Instead of waiting for specific times to feed, it prefers to eat whenever it is hungry including full daylight when other mosquitoes are less aggressive. And it prefers biting knees and ankles. Have you ever had a swarm of mosquitoes attack your ankles? It is not fun! You constantly look like you are doing some type of Swedish dance while hopping around on one foot while grabbing the other and then switching legs. I have heard of a few people who actually got jobs doing the dance skits at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg while trying to protect their lower extremities from the aggravating buggers.
Yet another issue is the increased level of disease associated with the Asian tiger mosquito. The name sounds bad enough, but having the ability to carry around 30 different viruses sounds like it should be Spiderman’s next supervillian. Back in 2005 and 2006 it was blamed for an epidemic resulting in two hundred sixty six thousand people becoming sick with over two hundred fifty fatalities. Some of the diseases it can carry include Dengue fever and West Nile virus. I wonder if our native mosquitoes were to hijack their way over to Africa would the virus they spread be called the East of Mississippi blah? Anyway, this fellow is definitely a supervillian.
As with any mosquitoes, it is recommended to drain any standing water. That means no bird baths, no water buckets for the dogs, and even clean out the gutters on the house. All I need, another honey-do addition to the ever growing list! Even with this knowledge I do not see how to stop the breeding grounds. First, it has not stopped raining in the last three months it seems. Second, it has been found that this particular brute of a blood sucker can mate and lay eggs in a pool of water as small as a bottle cap. A BOTTLE CAP!
DEET has been determined to be effective in warding the invader off though. Now, I know a man named Deet who works with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in recruiting new hunters and promoting the hunting heritage. Walter Deet James may have just the ticket here. Hand out Asian tiger mosquito hunting permits and we will draw in enough new hunters to ensure the heritage of the outdoors continues into the next millennium! And I have become acquainted with a few mosquitoes in my 40+ years here. Some of these guys are trophy size!
So be on the lookout for these dapper looking irritants. And remember to be on guard, because they can slap you back.