There is no human being on earth who has not been the victim of the winged ogress. Do not go by her size. Her damage potential is immense despite her miniscule size. This ogress can wreck your sleep, suck your blood – like the Dracula – and even make you a long term visitor at the doctor’s clinic. I am sure there couldn’t be a better eulogy for this winged ogress! If you did not know, mosquito bites are caused by female mosquitoes feeding on your blood.
My little one is a dare devil but the only creature she dreads and abhors is the winged ogress or the mosquito. The moment she spots one, she scoots. It is not her fault though. Mosquitoes have a special affinity for her. They somehow seek her even in a huge crowd. Just the other day, we had gone down to the lawn for the flag hoisting on the occasion of Republic Day. She was, as usual, the chosen one. The ogress pursued her endlessly and finally got her drop of blood. My little one was forced to rush back home, wear longer clothes, dab lots of mosquito repellent cream and come back for the rest of the ceremony and the goodies on offer! There were two huge red itchy bumps on her skin – which she calls bu bu – in no time. Researchers have suggested that mosquitoes preferentially feed on people with blood type O. But, my little one, despite not having the blessed blood group, is still the preferred one!
I am sure all of us have fervently wished at some point or the other (like my little one!) that the world should be rid of mosquitoes. In fact, one feels that they are only a menace and that they should not have been on earth in the first place. This, however, is not true. Every creature on earth has a raison d’etre; mosquitoes are no exception. Mosquitoes form an important part of the food chain. They also have an important role to play in pollination. Only the females of some species of mosquitoes require blood to get the proteins necessary to lay eggs. Others (thankfully!) rely on nectar for this.
This also makes one wonder if there are others who are afflicted by mosquitoes so that we humans can derive some vicarious pleasure. The answer is a resounding Yes !! Mosquitoes spare none. They target dogs, snakes, squirrels, rabbits and other small mammals also with great élan. But the point to remember is that mosquitoes believe in optimum output with minimum effort. Their management basics are pretty solid. They are mercenary and opportunistic. Human beings are a large (surface area wise!!), mobile target that exhale a lot of Carbon dioxide and give out a lot of heat. The female mosquitoes can sense a human being’s expiration from up to 50 meters away. The various other body smells and chemicals that the human body exudes are also very welcoming to most mosquitoes, making the human being the perfect target.
Mosquitoes however must be appreciated for their ladylike (!!) behaviour. They do alert you before feasting on you, with their droning music – almost akin to the ceremonial music played before the (sanguinary!) feast. This musical piece is enough to create disharmony in your blissful existence. This music has turned me into a(n) maniac / insomniac on many an occasion.
Different kinds of mosquito repellents have been launched over the years. I remember the mosquito coil that would be burnt the whole night, when I was a child. I am not sure how effective it was against mosquitoes but the terrible smoke it gave out would choke me no end. Then came the mats followed by liquid refills. There were also the creams to apply on the skin while setting outdoors or going to bed. I am painstakingly listing all these to show how despite various products being launched, the mosquito with its resilience has braved all of them; with great fortitude the female mosquito has not just survived another day but has surprised herself by carrying newer pathogens over the years.
The mosquito net was a favourite of my grandmother to keep mosquitoes at bay. Tying the net each night was an elaborate ritual. It would take her a long time to work with the bamboo poles and tie the four corners to the four poles. But the net would make me extremely claustrophobic! I always steered clear of it though I would help her put it up. The menacing thought that would occur each night was that if a godforsaken mosquito did enter the net before it was fully put up, the person inside would supply the ogress blood for a lifetime!
The newest weapon against the formidable winged ogress is the mosquito bat/racket. The racket is a device used to kill mosquitoes; the user waves it around to catch a mosquito between the metal grid, which shorts the circuit and electrocutes the insect. A Taiwanese inventor, Tsao-I Shih, is often credited with inventing the modern mosquito racket; he filed for a patent for an “electronic insect-killing swatter” in 1996. This is my favourite and it is very effective. I may also add (sadistically!) that seeing the mosquito meet her end gives a lot of solace, especially if a special midnight mission is launched for the same.
So, here I conclude on the (droning!!) note that we have to live with the winged ogress. There is no way we can befriend her. The best we can do is to keep away from her. But if it really comes to survival, then launching an offensive for self-defense is absolutely permissible (under the law!).