Some like it hot! Well, mosquitoes do. It is believed that mosquitoes are attracted to people with warm blood, so I must be very hot-blooded, because mosquitoes LOVE me. It's genetic. Both my younger brother, Rob, and I have hot blood and are extremely attractive to mosquitoes and other insects. We grew up in NYC, where there are four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid and the appearance of bugs during the day and especially at dusk is expected. Winters are nasty with unpredictable weather, varying amounts of snow, and always cold. Years ago in the dead of winter in freezing cold weather, my brother was waiting at a bus stop, when out of nowhere, a bee appeared and attacked him. Now there are no bees in NY in the winter, they emerge in the spring or summer, reproduce and die. This must have been a queen bee because they can live for several years. She must have been crazy about him because she pursued him as he ran down the street, trying to escape.
I've tried many gadgets and treatments that promise, "Mosquitoes don't stand a chance." They use various techniques -- some toxic and some not -- to attract and trap, repel and kill. Nothing works -- I still find that I am irresistible.
I knew from an early age that mosquitoes were attracted to me. My parents were divorced when I was 8 and my father remarried and moved to Ponce, Puerto Rico to start life anew with his young, sexy Puerto Rican wife. My brother Rob and I would travel between my mom's home in New York and my dad's home in Puerto Rico as unaccompanied minors on Pan Am airlines. We always took the cheapest flight out of NY -- the 12-midnight flight that arrived in San Juan at 4:20 a.m.. My dad would meet us at the San Juan Airport, which at that time was not air-conditioned. The terminal had no windows and was wide open to the air -- the hot, humid air. We had two options on arrival: we could take the first flight out in the morning to Ponce or drive three hours through windy mountain roads at night. We did both. I am not sure which I preferred. The drive to Ponce was treacherous, with hairpin curves, no guardrails, no lights and a single lane in each direction on poorly paved roads. While my brother slept in the back seat I sat up front and kept my eyes glued to the road. I was vigilant and awake, sure that my concentrating on the road helped my father drive. Those times when we opted to take the morning flight we would stretch out on a bench in the airport to rest and pass the time till the first flight was called. The mosquitoes had a feast. I awoke covered in bites that quickly expanded to welts and itched ferociously. Like the relatives who lined the arrivals area anxiously scouting faces for their dear ones to arrive, the mosquitoes eagerly awaited my flight. Fresh American meat.
One year during the last night of summer camp, I was bitten on my eyelid by an insect. My entire eye swelled up and left just a slit through which I could see. I was auditioning the next day for a part in New York City Ballet's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Guess what part I got? I wanted to be a fairy, but was chosen to be a bug instead! Ironic!
Mosquitos love me and as long as I am around, everyone else is safe. In the 37 years I've been married, my husband has never had a mosquito bite. I remember that as a young married couple, we traveled to Portugal one summer for a week and spent each night in a different posada, or converted castle. When we entered we found the rooms were musty and filled with mosquitoes buzzing around. We quickly developed an effective system for ensuring the room would be free of mosquitoes so we could sleep. As soon as we entered the room I would lie on the bed and my husband would stand waiting with a pillow on the side of the bed. When the mosquitoes came to attack me, he would whack them and the surface area of the pillow would get them every time. We've used that system many times since then and it always works.
I recently attended a Health and Safety commission meeting of the City of Beverly Hills. LA County Vector Control Executive Director Robert Saviskas gave an interesting and informative presentation. He reported on mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus, ticks and Africanize honeybees and their habitats. One of the most startling facts he quoted was about the reproductive ability of mosquitoes. One female mosquito lays 400 eggs, which hatch after a week. Half of those mosquitoes are female and those are the ones that bite. Those 200 female mosquitoes each produce 200 females (half of the 400 they produce), essentially 40,000 females after the second week. At the end of three weeks, when each of the 40,000 females has produced 200 female mosquitoes, there will be 8,000,000 female mosquitoes -- and I know they are all waiting for me!