If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
- Sun Tzu
Mosquitoes are not new. They have existed since the Jurassic period making them 210 million years old. That is much longer than the waiting time for the now troubled Pathao food service to deliver to your door. The massive lumbering dinosaurs were not a threat for the tiny flying suckers. In fact, for all we know, the dinosaurs just died in rage not being able to swat one of the annoying whining bloodsuckers. Do not blame the misunderstood asteroid. Mosquitoes very likely killed the dinosaurs.
And then they continued buzzing despite the plagues, wars, the Victorian age aversion to bathing and the growth of mumble rap. Nothing could slow them down. Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park wasn’t kidding when he said, ‘Life, uh, finds a way.’
How do we puny humans stand a chance?
There are more than 3000 species so it is difficult to get away from them. They can’t fly very far or very fast (top speed is about 2.4 kmph) but they still get around very well because they can hibernate. At temperatures less than 50 degrees, they shut down. The females are the ones that bite and can live up to eight weeks or hibernate up to six months. They stow away on plane cargo holds where temperatures dwindle to nothing and travel country to country without paying travel taxes.
They fly a maximum height of 25 feet. Don’t feel smug yet in your 8th floor apartment because people have been bitten all the way up to 8,000 feet. Also, they use elevators.
So how do you keep them from getting to you? First step is to eradicate any chance of eggs being laid. Female mosquitoes have a lot of time because they rarely watch Hindi TV serials. They focus on reproducing or biting. 300 eggs at a time laid in stagnant water. That means all the open drains around our houses as well as that cup of tea that you forgot to wash from last week. Eggs can hatch in as little as an inch of standing water. Luckily for us, land developers in Bangladesh are making sure no water bodies survive. In the last decade, 57 percent of water bodies in Dhaka have been enthusiastically filled up. There are no mosquitoes in the desert and that is what we are aiming for. But that is still a couple of decades into the future. What about tonight?
Why do they bite humans? Apparently, some humans are simply more appealing. Large people for example. Or those that breathe including the ones dead inside like most meme page admins and bank cashiers. Mosquitoes detect the carbon dioxide released when we exhale and target us. Like Schwarzeneggar says, “Breathe less if you wanna live.”
Sweating releases 340 chemical odours some of which are considered amazing by professional aromachologist mosquitoes. That last being job title for people and mosquitoes that smell things for a living.
Can we redirect their attention? Science says humans are not the first blood choice. Horses, cattle, and birds are higher up the menu. Considering Eid is coming up, perhaps it is time you kept the cow or goat INSIDE your home for a change. The stench will not just keep mosquitoes away but also anyone else you do not like, for example, your in-laws. Of course, the more I research, the more I realise there is no winning. Mosquitoes love warm bodies, target movement much like the robot drones in Terminator and love attacking feet. Being dead seems to be more and more the only way we can avoid mosquitoes. Is that the conclusion that the dinosaurs all came to?
Not to despair, there are SOME ways you can survive. One way is to make yourself less appealing, things even Jaya Ahsan can do no matter how impossible it may sound. Mosquitoes hate the smell of lemon eucalyptus among others. They also avoid light coloured or heavy clothing. So I suggest dressing in thick, beige sacks that typically hold potatoes. You don’t hear the homeless, hallucinogen loving groups huddled under the Farmgate over-bridge ever complain of mosquito bites.
But for some people, this is a losing battle. Mosquitoes love type O blood such as mine. Which means all my research has led to one final conclusion: I am delicious and there is nothing I can do about it.