Hay's Daze.

Hay’s Daze: Try sweating instead of swatting

A couple of weeks ago I was positively buzzing about bee-utiful bees getting a bad rap and how they really aren’t totally evil little beasts even if there are insects. But as we all know lately, some insects are. Evil little beasts, I mean. Take mosquitoes for example. Please. And take them far far away.

So, we finally get a few precious days without the constant deluges of rain, wicked wafts of wind, and temperatures that belong in late winter to emerge joyful with shimmering sunny days into our verdant lush yards only to be mercilessly attacked by several million biting beggars. And to add insult to injury it’s those annoying wet conditions that created the annoying critters in the first place.

And is there anything more annoying that settling in for a much anticipated slumber, putting your book down, kneading on your pillow until it’s just right, turning the light off, taking a contented sigh, closing your eyes and… ZZZzzzzzzzzzz. And that’s not the sound of you sleeping, that’s the sound of that one kamikaze mosquito that somehow snuck into your room to buzz around your face until you finally get up, turn on the light and spend the next 45 minutes stalking the damn thing. Flailing at a speck that seems to be a lot smarter than you are, and certainly a lot faster, you thrashing away with one of yesterday’s socks until you stub your toe on the bed frame, swear bloody murder and go hop-crashing into the bathroom where you lock the door and hide and try not to cry. Leaving the stupid mosquito for your Better Half to deal with.

Mosquito. From the Latin, “mos” meaning “ugly”; “qui” – “bloodsucking”’ “to” – “vampire”. But why oh why do they want my blood? And why oh why do they bite me and not, say, my friend who never gets even remotely bothered by the annoying little flying vampires? I looked it up. It turns out it’s only the females that bite for blood (well, of course it is) because they need blood to produce eggs. The males only feed on flower nectar, proving once again that males are…. Um, never mind.

I also learned that researchers in the UK recently discovered that “some people produce chemicals that smell bad to mosquitoes”. (No word on whether these were male people or female people, but I think we all know the answer to that question.) Remember those old Off Insect Repellent commercials on TV where they had some poor sap put his bare arm into a glass case containing several million mosquitoes? Without the spray those little bloodsuckers would attack his defenseless arm and chew it to the bone; then with the repellent sprayed on, only several thousand mosquitoes would chomp on him. (And they called that “success”?)

Well, these British researchers have brought out the ole mosquito box experiment again. They have unfortunately gullible volunteers stick their arms in there and the “lucky” ones who don’t get bitten (as much) then have their body completely covered in tin foil by the researchers to “collect their sweat”. (I’m not making this up.) The idea is to discover what body chemicals are responsible for repelling the mosquitoes by carefully and longingly analyzing the sweat. Eww!

Said researchers are, as we speak, “awaiting to patent the results in hopes of producing a natural insect repellent”. And it can’t come soon enough, right?

In the meantime, it might be an idea to try sweating instead of swatting when the marauding mosquitoes track you down. Or at least stand really close to someone who really sweats a lot. I’ll let you decide which is worse.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him column ideas to harleyhay1@hotmail.com