July 18, 2009 in City

The summer of death by a thousand bites

By Correspondent
 

I don’t know about you, but the soundtrack to my summer has sounded like this:

“Bzzzzzzzzz, bzzzzz (expletive), SLAP, SWAT.”

Followed by 12 to 14 dirty, colorful and inventive words.

I can’t remember a worse mosquito summer in Spokane. Maybe this is a case of selective memory, but I remember our summers as refreshingly skeeter-free, just another reason to feel superior to our poor, sad counterparts in the Midwest and the East.

But this summer, whenever we have been sitting on our back patio, enjoying an adult beverage in the dusky evening, we have been under aerial attack from a squad of miniature dive-bombing Messerschmitts. They home in on our tender places, our exposed places, the backs of our knees, the flesh on our jowls and, most annoying of all, our very ear-holes.

Mosquitoes have driven me to unprecedented extremes this summer. It culminated last week when I actually hung a tiny, bug-repelling fan on the back of my collar.

You heard me, a miniature fan. I’ll explain later.

I blame it all on our gigantic snow year. Snow, inevitably, becomes water. And water puddles. And those puddles breed evil little larvae that turn into obnoxious insects with needle-sharp proboscises.

Mosquitoes have always been annoying, but in the past few years, we have a new reason to hate them. We may contract the West Nile virus along with our mosquito bite. I know, the odds are so low as to be insignificant, but this knowledge doesn’t exactly make me feel more welcoming.

“Hello! Welcome to my flesh! I’m sure only a small percentage of you will murder me in a painful manner.”

This issue is certainly not restricted to my backyard. We just returned from a mini-vacation to Yellowstone National Park and the Beartooth Mountains of Montana, the only two places with more mosquitoes than my backyard.

Those high-altitude mosquitoes are larger and meaner. Have you ever seen a praying mantis? Yeah, about that size. And about that temperament.

It was near Yellowstone that someone handed me the newest weapon in the anti-mosquito arsenal. It’s the new Off! Clip-On Mosquito Repellent, a little electric fan, which, I guess, blows a little cloud of repellent all around you. I was desperate enough to hang one on my collar one day, and I can report that, yes, it sort of semi-works. I can confidently say that I may have possibly been chewed on by slightly fewer mosquitoes than before.

Meanwhile, we’re on the cusp of an even more effective deterrent: midsummer. If precedent holds, the mosquito populations should have peaked by now. As August approaches, it should be safer to party on the back porch at dusk, even without miniature fans dangling from our collars.

Then we’ll have nothing to worry about except wasps and deer flies. What blessed relief that will be.

Jim Kershner can be reached at (509) 459-5493 or jimk@spokesman.com.


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