Bzzzz! Ugh! Bzzzz. Thwack! Missed. Damn mozzie!
It happens every Summer. The Aussies Vs The Mozzies Test Match. And the mozzies win because there are zillions of ‘em. There are, in fact, 400 types of mozzie in Oz with names like Aedes Sollicitans. So at least one blood-sucking pest is also a lawyer makes perfect sense. Now each of these 400 mozzies has its own modus operandi. Some buzz around your head. Some go for the ankles. Some go for plump, sporty blokes.
According to Tokyo researcher Dr Yoshikazu Shirai mozzies like Type O blood – marinated in a good wine, slightly aged and warmed in the sun – and, apparently, more blokes have it. If you are a fit, fat, sweaty bloke, now you know why you’re invited to barbecues. You’re the mozzie decoy.
But we all get mozzie bites. It’s the female mozzie doing the damage. And here’s the scary bit. She uses your DNA to make mozzie eggs. 200 to 300 of them. She spreads you around. And there may be little Bazza and Shazza mozzies out there that look a little like you about the blood-shot eyes.
But mozzies aren’t just annoying. They’re nano bio-terrorists. They spread fevers, plagues and mental diseases. This may explain the odd behaviour of Queenslanders at times.
So how do you outsmart mozzies? First, you must understand the mozzie psyche. Unionists, they work mostly at dusk and dawn attracted to smell, sound, carbon dioxide, warmth and light. An evening barbie is like yelling ‘come’n get it!’ to a mozzie.
Aussies use many concoctions and contraptions from coils to sprays to zappers to get rid of mozzies. But do any of these devices work?
I can tell you. For we Aussies have a secret weapon, the Australian Mosquito Control Manual (2004) written by Darwin Medical Entomologist Peter Whelan. And here’s the low down. Anti-mozzie devices from citronella candles to zappers only work in confined spaces. That’s inside, mate. Any device that lures mozzies is useless because the kamikaze mozzies simply snack on you midway through their death dive. Sonic-repellent gizmos don’t work. Mozzies like others with brains the size of a pinhead enjoy one-note techno music.
Ritual flame torches help. Mozzies aren’t attracted to yellow light. But if you don’t want your backyard to look like a fake tribal set from ‘Survivor’, just use yellow globes. Shrubs don’t help. Maybe you can squash the leaves and rub them on the skin. Or better still just grab some tea tree branches and thrash your guests. It mightn’t deter the mozzies, but it would scare off the neighbours!
Wind is good. Mozzies can’t fly in the wind. So the perfect time for a mozzie-free barbecue is just when the plates are flying off the table in gale-force winds. Sprays and gels work. But Aerogard is not enough. It keeps off flies. You need the big guns for mozzies. Tropical Strength Aerogard. Rid. Bushmans. Muskol. Repel. Use them all!
Now you’re on holiday. Camping. In come swarms of mozzies. It’s an emergency. What do you do? You open your Australian Mosquito Control Manual and read on. Peter Whelan suggests to avoid mozzies in an emergency you cover yourself in mud, camp downwind near stock (They’re cows, city folk.), burn dung (Well, you’re near cows!) and if necessary bury yourself to the neck in sand and cover your head, which sounds like a fun camping trip for all the family.
And one other thing. If all else fails. Run. Like the wind, I guess.
Richard Powers is the author of ten novels, including Galatea 2.2, The Echo Maker , and Generosity. His writing often combines fiction with the themes of historical events or, as with his latest book, scientific developments. His novel The Echo Maker won the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction. He lives in Illinois.
‘Art is a way of saying what it means to be alive, and the most salient feature of existence are the unthinkable odds against it.
For every way there is of being here, there are an infinity of ways of not being here.
Historical accident snuffs out whole universes with every clock tick.
Statistics declare us ridiculous.
Thermodynamics prohibits us.
Life, by any reasonable measure, is impossible, and my life – this, here now – infinitely more so.
Art is a way of saying, in the face of all that impossibility, just how worth celebrating it is to be able to say anything at all.’
Richard Powers, Generosity.