Bites

I cannot wait for this infernal sumer to be over (although if it could hang around/return for my upcoming weekend away, that would also be nice).

Not only have we still had no significant rain, meaning that we are even deeper (no pun intended) in the throes of our water crisis, but this week’s calm, warm days and calm, warm nights have made Cape Town – specifically the bit of Cape Town that is our bedroom – a veritable paradise for mosquitoes. The whiney little shits.

I’ve mentioned before on here the lengths I go to in order to improved Mrs 6000’s life in this regard, but the last couple of nights have been off the scale as far as my sacrifices go. I am covered – covered – in bites. I itch.

Feel free to give me all your anti-mosquito tips and tricks, but please bear in mind that I have tried them all, and I am still trying them all. Tabard, Peaceful Sleep, Pyrethrums, Citronella, Prayer, A Big Fan, The AR15 Assault Rifle: all of them.

This morning, despite having employed each and every strategy I had at my disposal, and having checked and declared the room fully mosquito-free before retiring last night, I killed 9 of the engorged little bastards. All fed on me. Not a mark on my wonderful wife.

And why should tonight be any different? Meaning that by this time tomorrow I will basically just be one big histamine molecule.

Well, there’s something to look forward to. Ugh.

No thanks to Noah

The first mosquitoes of the season moved in last night. To be fair, we’ve had a good run: usually, we’ve been roundly devoured several times over by the beginning of January, so I shouldn’t really complain, despite the fact that certain members of the family are sporting several (or more) red blotches this morning. Yesterday’s hot weather, coupled with a unusual lack of wind, meant that conditions were perfect for the little bastards to buzz around us like an even more irritating Robert Marawas constantly blowing tiny vuvuzelas over our beds. If, like me, you have a musical ear and decent pitch, once you have heard one in the room, you can constantly hear one in the room, even if the offending insect has gone elsewhere to bite someone else.

No-one is quite sure how mosquitoes managed to get through the ancient trial of Noah’s Ark. Why would he allow something so pointless, annoying and destructive (malaria, anyone?) on board his Ark? Some opine that he was struggling with mental issues brought about by stress at the time: hearing booming voices in his head, building a huge boat, worrying about the inclement weather forecast, wondering where he was going to put all the dinosaurs (something he never managed to find work out, obviously). It seems likely that he just made a bad call when he signed off on the mozzies, a bad call that inadvertently resulting in the deaths of millions of people, primarily infants across Africa. Oops.
Perhaps we shouldn’t blame Noah though: maybe his hands were tied with overly politically-correct rules and regulations. Maybe there wasn’t time for a full hearing of the local Equal Opportunities Committee to be convened before the flood, thus meaning that the mosquitoes’ objection to their omission on the passenger inventory couldn’t be heard and they were therefore entitled to board. To be honest, they could have just sneaked on anyway. Unlike the Brontosauruses (RIP).

Fast forward several million a few thousand years, and mosquitoes have evolved (“no they haven’t” – Creationists) to become one of the most bothersome species on Earth, a title willingly contested by the likes of the Herpes virus, Maltese poodles and Steve Hofmeyr. Fortunately, while the Cape Town wind sadly has little effect on those other three, it does at least seem to deter the mosquitoes from successfully getting into our bedrooms. It’s windy today and my sleep-deprived body is glad of that.

Tonight, the mosquitoes will be going sideways past the window, rather than wandering in and eating bits of me. Tonight, I shall sleep – no thanks to Noah.

Now we’re DOOMed

LOL. See what I did there?

No, of course not, not yet anyway.

wastesometimem

But:

The widely-used insect repellent Deet appears to be losing its effectiveness against mosquitoes, scientists say.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine say mosquitoes are first deterred by the substance, but then later ignore it.

This explains a lot. Despite my best efforts, I am still regularly attacked in my bedroom late at night (please note that no links to current bail hearings are implied here). And while I’ve tried many different repellents, I’ve never been able to get hold of any N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. Just as well, it turns out, since, like antibiotics,  it doesn’t work anymore.

But how did it even work in the first place?

For many years, it was not clear exactly how the chemical worked, but recent research suggests that insects simply do not like the smell.

So whoever came up with Deet obviously never had to change a nappy then. Because you have to become resistant and immune to that nasty smell as well. You can overcome it. As can mosquitoes with Deet, it seems.

So we need something else. Some way of “Deet”erring these vicious bloodsuckers. And there’s definitely money to be made here.

I’m still working on my Castle Milk Stout ingestion method. As yet, there appears to be no discernible effect on the insects, but the research has been fun and probably deserves a whole lot more investigation.

Sacrificial anode

It seems that I have been acting as a sacrificial anode. Of sorts.

If you don’t know what a sacrificial anode is, allow me to enlighten you:

A galvanic anode is the main component of a galvanic cathodic protection (CP) system used to protect buried or submerged metal structures from corrosion.
They are made from a metal alloy with a more “active” voltage (more negative electrochemical potential) than the metal of the structure. The difference in potential between the two metals means that the galvanic anode corrodes, so that the anode material is consumed in preference to the structure.
The loss (or sacrifice) of the anode material gives rise to the alternative name of sacrificial anode.

Basically, in layman’s terms, it’s a chunk of metal which is attached to another submerged piece of metal (like an oil rig leg) and rusts so that the other stuff doesn’t rust. It lays down its atoms so that the oil rig leg (or whatever) doesn’t have to.

And last night, I suddenly realised that that’s what I’ve been doing: sacrificing myself in order to protect my wife. Not by rusting, you understand, but by lying next to her in bed and being bitten by a succession of mosquitoes, which bite me in preference to biting her.
Of course, she claims that it’s purely chance that with a single mozzie in the room, I wake up looking like I’ve had an overnight attack of chicken pox, while her gently tanned skin remains smooth and soft and…wait… sorry – where was I again? Ah yes – she says it’s just chance, but I’ve done some rudimentary calculations and statistically, it seems that I have been imported solely the purposes of baby-making, lawn-mowing and to be a sacrificial anode. Of sorts.
Oh – and to prop up the previous ailing South African brewing industry, which I have now almost single-handedly turned into a global success story.
(It’s ok. No thanks necessary.)

Nothing good ever came out of being sacrificed. The chunk of metal only lasts a certain number of months or years before it is gone – eroded and corroded – and replaced. The sacrificial lamb is braai’ed, devoured and forgotten before you can say “Mint Sauce” and no-one ever remembers which actor played “Expendable Exploration Party Member 3” who was pushed into the flaming lava pit by the African tribesmen to appease their Gods in 1921’s The Adventures of Tarzan, now do they?

But with the baby-making completed and SAB-Miller back on an even keel, maybe I should be happy that the grass is still growing and the mozzies are still biting. The way my joints feel these days, maybe the corrosion metaphor is more than just a metaphor and I should be grateful that I still have a role in this place and that I’m not about to be replaced by a shiny new lump of zinc.

After all, although it is a fundamental element in making babies, zinc can’t mow the lawn and zinc can’t attract biting insects.
I think I’m safe for now…