The War Against Mosquitoes
Summer has arrived (even though we are having temperatures of around 25ºC, way cooler than usual for this time of the year, and it’s been raining almost nonstop for the last two weeks) and with it, its terrible predators: mosquitoes!
Mosquitoes, together with humid heat, are the two things that I hate the most about summer. Today I want to talk about mosquitoes and how to combat them.
Suzhou has a lot of canals, rivers and ponds, so it is a paradise for mosquitoes. I live in the first floor (second floor by Chinese standards) so we have to cope with a big number of these nasty intruders. All of our windows have mosquito nets but they still find the way in to bite us, so we have been forced to try all the weapons available in the market to eliminate them. These are our essentials:
1. Plug-in mosquito killer
The first thing I do when I arrive home is pluging the electric mosquito killer. It’s what I’ve always used to combat mosquitoes since I was a kid. I don’t know what it does exactly, something like poisoning them, because after a while they fly as if they were drunk and end up dying on the kitchen floor. Yay! You can buy this in any supermarket for less than 3o RMB (it is called 电热蚊香 in Chinese).
2. Mosquito coil
This is a new addition to the list. I had seen these things in public toilets and places like that but I had never tried them. A few weeks ago we were desperate because the washing machine room was absolutely full of them and C. went and bought this coil, which Chinese people traditionally use. I have to say I didn’t believe it was going to help but it is amazing, you just have to light it up and mosquitoes magically disappear! It is made from a flower that has insect repellent properties. It is called 蚊香 in Chinese and it costs around 4 RMB for ten.
3. Mosquito repellent spray
This a must when you are leaving the protection of your home and your plug-ins and coils. Spray on exposed skin and repeat every 4 hours. Sometimes the smell is a bit annoying but I prefer it to scratching.
4. Mosquito racket
Few things are more satisfying than chasing and eletrocuting mosquitoes with this electric racket. A few days ago one of our neighbours was in our building door frying mosquitoes like crazy, he stayed there for hours having endless fun. The frustrating part is that no matter how many of them you kill, there will always appear more and more. Last year (before I discovered the mosquito coil) there was one day when I killed more than 80 mosquitoes with the racket. I counted them.
And if everything goes wrong and you still get bitten, there’s still hope:
If you’ve never tried it, it is a balm made of menthol and camphor with a strong smell. If you apply it on the mosquito bite before scratching it won’t get swollen and itchy. If you have already scratched it and it’s swollen you can still use it, it will relieve the itching. It is called 清凉油 or 万金油 in Chinese. (Don’t try going to the pharmacy and asking for “the tiger thing”, I did it once and the attendant just didn’t want to understand me. I think it was pretty clear!).
And why mosquitoes seem to attack some people and not others? Sometimes two people sleep in the same room and one gets bitten but not the other. According to traditional beliefs, in China people think this depends on your blood type. However, according to scientific research it seems mosquitoes are attracted to people who emit more carbon dioxide and lactic acid. I must be in this group because mosquitos love me!