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Tiny Vampires of the Night

Posted Wednesday, August 19, 2009, at 9:00 AM

Since I'm in danger of falling into the recycle bin soon and disappearing from your screen, I've decided to share my NSC column for today. It was written very early yesterday morning, after a largely sleepless night.

This morning, a tiny visitor interrupted my early morning slumber, whining in my ear. At first I thought I heard children chattering; then I awoke fully and recognized it for what it was - that fearful, dreaded, high-pitched droning of none other than Anopheles quadrimaculatus, the sound I most dread to hear in the middle of the night.

I think a more appropriate name would be minimus blood-suckicus. I'm referring to those little vampire insects called mosquitoes.

I can try to cover my head with the sheets or the pillow, get up, turn on the light and try to swat the little noisy blood-sucker - or I can just move to a bed in another room.

This morning at four a.m., I chose the latter option. It would undoubtedly have taken an hour to track down and squash the offending insect, and by that time I would have been hopelessly awake and probably furious.

At times like this, I try to convince myself that the mosquito is one of God's creatures and deserves a full, rich life, but I'd rather he didn't achieve it with my blood.

Even more, I wish he didn't have to brag about it and torment me while he did it. If mosquitoes didn't do that horrible humming before they bit, I might not mind if they took a minscule portion of my blood. I'm sure I don't need all my blood. I could afford to give them a thimble full and never miss it.

However, it's impossible to lie there in bed in the dark and listen to the "eeeeeeeee" of a mosquito. And why do they always go for your ears?

When I was a kid, I used to spend the night with my cousins. Back then, our Depression Era parents thought nothing of stuffing as many into a bed as could fit, even if we had to lie there like stove wood. I remember one long, long night, wedged in with my older cousins, listening to the whine of a mosquito as it circled our heads, searching for a good place to attack. I couldn't move, even if I wanted to, and if I woke my cousins, the mosquito would be the least of my problems. It was a long night.

I had always heard that the mosquitoes in Alaska were legendary in their size and numbers, so I dreaded facing them when we moved there in '69. However, I found that, though the beasts were the size of a 747, they were extremely slow and easy to clap between your hands. There was no excuse to get bitten, unless you were trekking through the bush and were attacked by a whole swarm, in which case you were doomed, whether man or animal.

I've never been one to trek through the bush, so I found the time in Alaska quite pleasant, since I was unbothered by mosquitoes, and there were no flies. At least, I don't remember seeing a fly while I was there. Add to that the absence of snakes, and you have a perfectly lovely environment -- as long as you stayed in civilization...

Now it's morning, and I'm back in the swing of the day, but I feel sure that my early morning bout with the insectus vampira will mean I will be ready for a nap about four.

If that mosquito hovers around my head at nap time, there's going to be some serious insect eradication around here.

From the green, insect-ridden hills of Tillman, Mo., this is your still sleepless rural reporter Madeline, signing off on my free day!!

Showing comments in chronological order
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More stuff for the recycle bin.

-- Posted by shannonhoon on Wed, Aug 19, 2009, at 11:36 AM

Yes, mosquitos, though annoying are only really bothersome in relation to Nile Virus...come to Texas and deal with fire ants and killer bees, along with scorpions and so forth...and yes, they do come into your house without a proper invite...try waking up to one of THEM in the middle of the night...

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Wed, Aug 19, 2009, at 1:01 PM

MD, apart from being very large, mosquitoes weren't a problem in Fairbanks because at that time there was aerial DDT spraying at night to control them. Outside of town was a different story. The most recent two issues of The New Yorker have lengthy articles about a journalist's recent trip by car and train through Siberia. He camped out along the way and had to deal with "killer" mosquitoes.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Thu, Aug 20, 2009, at 6:20 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Good grief! I didn't realize that! I do remember some horror stories from the bush, where people got stranded out without proper protection and almost died from mosquito attacks. Ugh! What a horrible way to go!!

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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