Opinion Column

The mosquito has landed and landed and landed

By Patricia Anne Elford

Between real spring and the winter

When the pussy-willows flower,

Comes a pause before swatting and itching.

Which is called The Go-For-It-Hour.

(apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882).


The Petawawa area truly appeals to nature lovers. There are beautiful, moody rivers and boreal forests (except for where trees that used to flame into beauty every fall have been felled to create shifting deserts for many houses-to-be. "Kill every tree that is taller than we are. That will teach them!") There are trails by chuckling waters, Canadian Shield outcroppings, sandy beaches, and a relaxing waterside park. Flora and fauna abound, though many animals have retreated to more secluded areas after the clearing of the trees.

When crocuses and tulips nose their way through the soil, the more aware, determined citizens immediately begin raking, trimming and beautifying their properties. Pleased, they sit outside, appreciating the warming sun on their faces, the sweet-smelling breezes. Trucks will soon collect all bagged yard waste; these citizens are ready!

Weather forecast: murky yellow skies, rumbling rains followed by thunderstorms. Before the puddles have dried, the invaders have arrived. They, too, are ready--clogging the screens, hovering around door frames, zooming past doors and trunk lids into car interiors, nestling into necks, feasting on wrists/ankles/ears or hairlines, riding into the house on clothing and groceries

Out comes the armour and the arsenal: scores of batteries, the traps--commercial and home-made, for inside and out, the wicks, candles, smoking coils, the piles of "play-electric-tennis-with-a-pest" racquets (his and hers and one per room), Skin-So-Soft„¢ lotion, creams, chemical patches or sprays (often considered a great danger for humans and pets).

As for being armed with ultrasonic devices, this would seem to be yet another would-be weapon, rather than truly effective. (http://www.mosquitoreviews.com/ultrasonic-mosquito-app.html.). Megacatch, however, has had good reviews. (http://www.mosquitoreviews.com/mega-catch-ultra-reviews.html). Health Canada provides a pest control product registration number for approved products. Not all of the above are approved.(http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/environment-environnement/pesticides/insect_repellents-insectifuges-eng.php)

Procrastinating persons who've delayed yardwork can find themselves out there looking like shabby astronauts, faces barely visible through their protective clothing. They hastily plant more garlic and lemon grass; they crush citronella onto wrists, ankles, throat and elbow pits. In a run to the backyard gazebo, it is every person for him/herself. Heaven help the one who doesn't close the door immediately upon arrival! Feverish mosquito-fighters can become mean!

There are serious health reasons for using mosquito protection, even in Canada. (http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/diseases-conditions-maladies-affections/disease-maladie/wnv-vno-eng.php)

After each foray, each lawn-mowing or barbecue (mosquito topping no extra charge) the blood-sucked warrior TRIES not to scratch. The wounded uses TherapikTM or slathers on baking soda, vinegar or After-Bite„¢. At day's end s/he falls into bed for slumber, killer racquet nearby. As the mosquito trapper hums its lullaby, the human snuggles into the pillows, absentmindedly scratching yet another bite.

In the darkness, s/he hears it, the high-pitched whine of a mosquito that has flown the gauntlet. Ms. Mosquito wants sweet human blood more than she wants a purple-blue light, apple cider vinegar, or any other trap seduction. The battle is renewed.

Every time the sufferer turns out the light, thinking the mosquito has been killed or gone to seek juicier snacks, the enemy zings through the darkness again, each buzz sounding increasingly like thin, insane laughter. Despite high temperatures, covers are pulled up over the head. A middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom is delayed almost to the point of no return so our poor victim won't have to expose even a freckle of bare flesh. Thrive on seeing others suffer similarly? See exhausted Tim Conway's antics when confronted by a hotel room fly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKJMggdq5qo.

Here's the buzz! Make Petawawa's symbol the item least often mentioned in our tourist brochures--the mosquito. There's only one other serious Canadian community contender--Komarno (apparently Ukranian for "mosquito-infested"), Manitoba, 71.9 km. north of Winnipeg.

We share the affliction...er ...attraction. Why not share the glory? Instead of trying to ignore the "mosquito in the room", why not claim her, meet her, face to proboscis, celebrate winning battles against her, and wear the T-shirt (long-sleeved, of course) as a badge of honour? Oh, the head buzzes with ideas! Mega-itch/Malefica Mosquito could be Petawawa's new mascot! A mosquito statue could top the Petawawa Municipal building tower, or, stand as a fountain, spotlighted by red, in front. Great photo ops!

Why not have a Mosquito Fest with games including sipping-red-liquid-through-a-straw challenges? Consider the arts. Who can play the most irritating whining version of "Flight of the Mosquito" on a kazoo? Give an award for the best "Ode to a Mosquito", prizes for the best mosquito jokes or tall tales, "Reflections of the Mosquito" artwork or photo competition, and, the pièce de résistance--a mosquito-killing competition with a time limit, under controlled conditions, using provided weapons, such as Bug-a-SaltTM. You'll run out of ammunition (table salt) before you run out of prey.

Souvenirs for sale? Mega-itch Mosquito pins, add-a-charm bracelets, earrings, letter openers, Tees and hats. Think about it! There are as many possibilities as there are mosquitoes "¦ Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Zillions!

Next week: Betty Ryan

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