Lovin it up with Mosquitoes
Insects love me. I’ve been bitten and stung hundreds of times, chased around fields by wasps and bees so desperate is their need to be near me, had my blood sucked by bed bugs, mosquitoes, sand flies and I shudder to think what else when travelling. No matter how strong the repellent, how thick the clothes or how good the mosquito net is, they still find a way in.
My friends and family say they enjoy my company as they can walk around unfettered by the usual cloud of biting insects that hover over their heads when I’m absent. It is a similar story when travelling abroad with fellow backpackers as mosquitoes will ignore any person within my vicinity. All I can say is that the insects obviously have good taste and prefer a gourmet meal!
Conversely, I do not like insects and have had many encounters of the more bizarre kind. Like the time I was walking down the street, a wasp flew down my bra and I pulled up my jumper in panic to get rid of it (a similar incident happened with a dress but thankfully I was at home at time). Or when I was stung inside my wellington boot. Ever heard of the wellie throwing contest? Well I would have won it. I once sat on a bumble bee, which of course objected and jabbed its stinger into my leg. My thigh swelled up and I ended up in accident and emergency. Unfortunately, the poison ate away some of my muscle and thanks to that bee I now look lopsided in tight fitting jeans and dresses. As well as being stung in strange ways my body also reacts violently to vampire insects. Large red egg shaped welts appear on my skin and they often turn septic – not desperately attractive. I have become adept at obtaining the correct medicine from pharmacies all over the world as I have found that showing is much more effective than telling.
To say that I am a little paranoid about getting bitten would be somewhat of an understatement. Friends who travel with me know that they can load their luggage with important thing like clothes because I carry ample supplies of protective gear. Netting with spare hooks and string, bottles of repellent in various strengths (some that will melt plastic), coils, electrical gadgets and tablets to burn in them, bite lotions, anti-histamine and antibiotic tablets/cream and malaria tablets. I recently added an anti-fungal cream to the collection as I was stung by a jellyfish in Samos, Greece (a new species to add to my growing list of things that have bitten me). My partner says that in all the years he has stayed on the island (about 25) he has never known this happen to anyone else before. Which would explain his lack of action and slightly puzzled look as I thrashed around in the shallows. By the time I was back in England the bite site had turned into a large raised red rash that was extremely painful. I went to outpatients at the local hospital where they had no idea how to treat it until they found a Doctor that fished in his spare time. The jellyfish had injected me with a fungal infection and I was given a cream that sorted it out. Hence the new addition to my medical kit.
Friends and acquaintances find all this hilarious. My response to this is to remind them of some facts. Did you know that if you laid out naked in a mosquito infested area you would get bitten on average 9,000 times an hour and lose half the blood circulating in your body. I could have tested this theory out when we stayed in the Amazon Basin near Rurrunebaque, Bolivia. It was the start of the wet season and tourists and tour guides alike had to endure thousands of mosquitoes. They swarmed around us in camp, on treks, having a shower and going to the toilet. It was so horrendous that one girl threw a tantrum, sat on her suitcase and waited for a passing boat so she could leave. Our guide who lived in the camp had had enough as well and at the end of the trip returned to town with us. Despite taking all precautions possible by the time we returned to civilization I was covered from head to toe in red lumps. Luckily Amazonian mosquitoes are not picky and the whole of the town’s tourist population looked like they had contracted chicken pox. My suffering throughout the whole ordeal was made bearable by the fact that I had the half the contents of a chemist with me. Others were less lucky!
So if you’re like me and are beloved by insects, take no notice of those scoff at mossie nets and medication. Instead use a repellent that smells so bad that insects and mockers alike keep their distance and with any luck they may meet up and leave you alone.