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The way of the mosquito July 21, 2013

Posted by stinawp in Uncategorized.

I know too much about various martial arts to seriously believe that there is a strike called “swatting the mosquito,” no matter how useful it would be at Palo Verde. It doesn’t matter—I can make up my own. In fact, any given day reveals that there is an entire repertoire of mosquito swats, determined by the mosquito’s location, what I’m holding, and what I’m trying to do at the same time. The most gratifying option is the loud, open-handed smack. However, this is a bad idea when a) I’m holding something in the attacking hand, b) smacking the mosquito would jar something in my other hand, or c) the mosquito is on my face. The third option goes especially poorly when I’m doing the smacking with my field notebook rather than just my hand. Sadly, I do this more often than you might expect.

Then there are the sneak attacks. I use back-handed smacks when I’m holding something, especially if the mosquito is on the back of my hand. Mosquitoes busy sucking on my eyebrows or behind my ears are surprisingly easy to smear off with a single finger. I once inadvertently took a similar tack with a mosquito biting my lip. I bit my itchy lower lip and discovered that a smashed mosquito tastes slightly bitter and makes the tip of my tongue tingle.

If nothing else, I can blow them off me, and sometimes (when I’m trying to photograph one of my caterpillars, for instance), that’s all I’m able to do. It’s not nearly as satisfying, but it keeps them off until I have the chance to smack them. The most effective evasive maneuver is simply to outpace them. As long as you stay above mosquito cruising speed, which by my very rough calculations is about 2.5 MPH, they’ll follow but they won’t usually try to land and bite.  



1. Jason - July 22, 2013

Ah, you have learned an important skill. I wish I had learned this at an earlier age, I’m trying to nab one right now but it turns out you are very bad at swatting mosquitoes when you are staring at a computer screen.

stinawp - July 31, 2013

After a while, you develop a sort of hyper-aware twitchiness… hair moves against your neck, it could be a mosquito… loose threads of your cut-off shorts move against your leg, it could be a mosquito… Generally, I check to see if it actually is a mosquito, but if I’m doing something, I generally slap first and check later.

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