Monday, August 22, 2016

what's the buzz?

"The heat and the bugs -- in that order."

I was having lunch with an acquaintance who had moved from Melaque before I came down in 2009. He was explaining why he had moved up into the mountains half way to Guadalajara.

He knew how uncomfortable summer heat and humidity could be; he had spent most of his life living in one of those midwestern states that begin and end with a vowel. But knowledge is not always a coping skill. He moved away from that weather, and had no desire to spend his retirement years reliving the title of Jorge Amado’s third novel.*

We didn't talk much about the bugs. But my eight years of living here has proven him correct. We have heat and bugs -- year round. The presence of the ocean offsets that for me. Not for him.

I thought of that conversation this past week. When I walk Barco in the morning, I wear my track suit to fend off the flying midges (what northerners call no-see-ums, and what my neighbors call jejenes). If I don't, the bites of those almost invisible flies will leave my legs looking like two yards of Swiss dot.

The midges have never been a problem at my house. I do get the occasional mosquito at night while I am standing in the pool reading. But I have not seen too many of them -- before last week.

Because we were not heading to the sports park last Monday, I decided to forego my track suit. That was a mistake.

I was convinced I had walked into a re-enactment of the fourth plague of Egypt. There were mosquitoes everywhere -- including on me. At one point, I counted eleven of them on my legs. That was far more than I ever experienced living directly on the laguna in Villa Obreg

Most were marsh mosquitoes -- those pesky runts that remind me of no-see-ums on steroids. But not all. A large portion were Aedes aegypti. I call it the Egyptian mosquito -- simply because I cannot remeber the latin name.

Aedes aegypti is incredibly easy to identify. Just look for those white knees.
They are a nasty piece of work. Not only do they leave large welts behind after their blood feeding, they also carry the virus for some serious diseases. Dengue. Chikungunya. Zika. Yellow Fever.

Yellow fever is not a problem in our area. Nor is Zika -- yet, even though it seems to be working its way up from southern Mexico. Dengue and chikungunya we have aplenty.

For four days, the plague raged. All day long. Most mosquitoes prowl primarily at dawn or dusk -- like the vampires they are. Not these guys. They were willing to fill up on plasma just like a 7-11. 24/7. And they did.

Then, they were gone. Thanks to the marvels of chemistry.

Within two days of the onset, the local spray truck came through the neighborhood. I do not know what cocktail is used for the insecticide, but it works.

The day after he passed through, my courtyard was filled with the carcasses of bees, dragonflies, moths, cockroaches, scorpions, butterflies, beetles, and assorted other insects. Most of my neighbors throw open their doors and windows when the truck passes through to take advantage of the vector control.

Inevitably, the only survivors are the mosquitoes. Or so I thought, until I worked it over in my mind. The spray undoubtedly kills the adult mosquitoes. But, their life cycle is so short, another generation metamorphoses into adults
from their watery nurseries as soon as the truck departs.

But the driver, knowing the wily ways of the mosquito, was back in two days to wipe out that lot.

This week, the mosquitoes were gone. At least, around my house. They still hang out in the sports park. The moisture and grass of the fútbol field are a perfect hangout for them. Plus, the spray truck never reaches them.

Some people cannot deal with the flying midges and the (understandable) fear of
Aedes aegypti. The insects are a nuisance. Sometimes, a frightening nuisance -- especially if Yellow Fever takes another turn on the world stage as it is doing in Africa.

Fortunately, there are self-defense mechanisms. Mine is Off! When I remember to use it. I am one of those people who dislikes the feel of lotions. Hand creams. Sun screen. Massage lotions. (Well. massages in general.) Insect repellent. They are not my natural thing. But they are effective.

Unlike my acquaintance, neither the heat nor the bugs are going to drive me away from what drew me here in the first place -- the beautiful ocean that daily reminds me there are more adventures just over that horizon.

I think I'll stay a few more years.

* -- Sweat, in case you were wondering.

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