Mosquito Bites: Scratching the Surface

by Rachel Gertz

--UPDATE: Found out these bites were actually from idiot sand fleas, but this post is still relevant so keep reading.--

If you have never received a mosquito bite, you are not allowed to read this post. Also, I don’t think we can be friends anymore as the sheer injustice of that fact makes me want to hurt you. Badly.

This post  is only for those who have ever been afflicted by a bite of a mosquito (or 37). Now, I consider myself a humanitarian. I’ve even spent the last week and a half trying to rescue miscellaneous bugs from the clutches of a watery grave here in Costa Rica. But here’s the thing, if your name is Diptera bloodsucios, I will fucking kill you till your bloody mangled corpse is unrecognizable. Then I will set fire to all of your children and use their ashes as a poultice for my agonizing welts.

If you’ve been bitten (and react to your bites), you understand. The torture of multiple bites can literally make you crazy, to the point where you could take it out on any person gingerly offering you breakfast, or looking in your general direction. Rather than risk enacting a mass Guanacaste murder spree, I took it upon myself in my itchy agony to do a little research. I tend to do this when I become obsessed with something. So rather than squirming in my chair trying to tell you about the sugar sand beaches of Costa Rica, I thought I’d share a few fast facts with you about these blood sucking soulless monsters that have invaded not only my tender dermis, but my addled brain as well.

I can appreciate that it’s winter and mosquitos are a long way off for most of you in the northern hemisphere. You might even be feeling smug about that fact. But soon enough the snow will melt and turn into standing pools of opportunity, and the whine of the demons will begin once more. They will feast upon you like the Grecian gods upon the heart of Ferrero Roche. Wait, apparently that was a TV commercial. 

Anyway. What you need to know…

Skeeters

  • Mosquito means “little fly” in Spanish. If I did naming I’d call it fucknose flycunt [sorry mom]
  • They’ve been around for millions of years. God knows how people treated bug bites back in the dark ages. Bloodletting, probably
  • It’s those bitches, the females, that do all the sucking. The males eat plants
  • Their needle-like beaks (or proboscis) are serrated like a steak knife to confuse your nerves about where that sharp poke originated —so they can turn you into a relaxing cocktail.
  • Why you itch —Mosquito drool 
  • They live to eat your ass so they only so they can lay more eggs (up to 300); after promulgating the population they finally die. Thank god.
  • There’s over 2800 different species of mosquito, some of which actually prefer vegetarian mammals. That’s almost 3000 different species who want you, Mr. Popularity.
  • They will kill you with malaria, yellow fever, dengue, encephalitis, or give your dogs and cats heart worm. Those bastards.
  • Mosquitos kill 1 million people per year. The only other threat on par with mosquitos are humans themselves. They’ll kill each other for things like disagreeing over the Sabbath day and whether or not that slut slept with his best friend.
  • Skeeters are attracted to your CO2, scent, and the heat your hairy ass gives off. In that order.
  •  They can form swarms thick enough to asphyxiate Alaskan caribou. Makes you want to move to Alaska, doesn’t it.
  • If you scratch, the itch will only get worse!!!
  • Mosquitos have a brain, but they don’t have an effing heart. 

Next thing. You’ll probably want to…

Avoid Bites

  • You can slather yourself in the stinky mud of the Amazon if you have any on hand
  • Proteins in some people’s bodies are stinky to skeeters. They’ll avoid them like the plague. And scientists are getting creative with that knowledge.
  • Some natural tips on avoiding bites, you know, so you don’t poison the whole world with petrochemicals 

I had heard that taking a certain vitamin was tantamount to changing my blood pH and warding off them nasty critters. Turns out I was wrong. I didn’t even get a positive placebo effect. Taking vitamin B12 religiously for a month up to and including this trip has been the only preventative measure I’ve taken, so you may think I deserve the vicious attack of these half-pint criminals.

However, I implore your sympathy. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. And I plan to coat myself in garlic & vanilla starting right now.

Before I go and miss or dis-classify the little buggers, there’s a few things we should set straight.

Myths

  • Bug zappers don’t work. They actually increase mosquito pops by ‘calling’ the critters and then zapping all kinds of other good bugs. Guess mosquitos are too ‘smart’ for the electric chair. Zappers also polarize standing water (via their blue lights) which makes it easier for skeeters to find their next breeding ground. Don’t waste your money
  • Coils and citronella are ineffective because the mosquito will just zoom around the smoky bits and bite you somewhere else. Plus coils are filled with nasty chemicals you shouldn’t inhale
  • Mosquitos only bite once and then die. Negative. They’ll bite your ass as many times as it takes to conquer the earth.

Why Not DEET?

DEET (short for N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is a concoction of chemicals created by the US army in 1946 to ward of man-eating bugs, rather than kill them. The problem is, DEET chemicals are toxic (PDF) and produce delusions of grandeur. Read the labels on your bug repellent… if they contain DEET, it’ll likely tell you to limit the number of times you apply it. It’ll also discourage you from using it on children (the poor little buggers) and near eyes/mouth/perianal openings. Don’t ask me about that last one. 

Mosquitos hate the smell (as do humans) so it’s no wonder the stuff works. There’s so many new repellents out there (and here and here) that have none of the nasty side effects that DEET brags. The difficulty is getting your hands on them. Unless you like online shopping, don’t expect to find an array of natural products on your pharmacy shelves. If you could, it would be very OFF putting for for the companies who declare heavy chemical perfume is the only way to go. 

Not only this but mutant mosquitos aren’t falling for it anymore. DEET can dissolve plastics, spandex, leather, and other painted surfaces. Do you really want this solvent on your skin or on your fat baby’s face? 

Okay, I don’t want to poison the earth or myself. But I want the pulsing itch and swelling to stop. Help.

Fix the Itch NOW!!! Ungggghhhhh.

Enough about the awful spawn of satan and its ability to control our economy. Let’s talk about how to stop that itching & burning. If this is a common problem for you, you may want to stop reading and consider talking to your doctor about your itchy anus instead. 

Here’s a list of ways to stop the itch.  

(I’m not going to rattle off a list when someone else has done it much more eloquently)

Now, I’ve tried a shit ton of these cures in the last 48 hours and have so far felt nothing but the scathing poison of 37 oozing scabs tauning my good humour. I’m probably a loser of a ticking napalm bomb due to all that chemical mixing. 

But that’s me. 

You might be a warrior prince or something, and a teaspoon of sugar makes you feel fucking fantastic. Good for you.

Just so you know, I have tried and failed at:

  • AfterBite Xtra
  • Some Johnson & Johnson shit that stunk but didn’t ease my suffering
  • Lime juice 
  • Salt water soak (we’re on the ocean, man)
  • Raw jalapeño smooshed into the deliriously itchy bite on the bottom of my foot (didn’t even tingle)
  • A bar of dry soap
  • Crystal deodorant
  • Liquid ibuprofen squeezed straight from the capsule. Shit all benefit.
  • Rum (rubbed it in then had a shot). Nada.
  • Just tried apple cider vinegar. A cool glow. Then nothing
  • Voltaren: an anti nflammatory for my back

I think they might be infected.

    My desperation is making me fantasize about picking porcupines up by the belly and rubbing them vigorously against my legs after soaking them in bleach. Unfortunately porcupines are nocturnal, and it’s daytime. Maybe that Costa Rican Bullet Ant will come in handy (warning: not for the weak of heart). 

    Anyway, why should you suffer for my misery? A shout out to the numerous awesome folks who have offered their recommended cures. I’m adding them below…

    • Rub deodorant on the bites
    • Low-level heat from a hot cup 
    • Absorbine Jr in your friendly pharmacy aisle
    • Scratch it till it bleeds profusely
    • Pee on them

    These are on my try or die list. If they don’t work, I’m cutting off my legs a toe at a time. 

    So the final blow (or suck, if you prefer) is that mosquitos don’t actually play a valuable role in our web of life. Just ask Janet Fang (PDF), Nature’s intern in Washington DC. Apparently, we could destroy every last trace of these yellow-bellied scurvy swine, and the world would be in no worse shape. In fact, it just might be a better place to live. 

    Yeah, no shit.

    The bites in question

    Not sick of them yet? Here’s more info about the blood sucking pests.

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