Welcome to Paradise: Mozzie Paradise

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

Welcome to paradise. Mosquito paradise, that is. Every day, mosquitoes go out on their search-and-annoy missions. There are so many mosquitoes at night, it sounds like Leo Sayer is singing in my bedroom: “You make me feel like dancin'” they sing, “Gonna dance the night awa-” Pssssshhht. In a cloud of insecticide, they fall to their knees. (Yes, mosquitoes have knees. That’s how they do push-ups.)

The other night, while I was reading in bed, a mosquito landed on my sleeve. I slapped my sleeve and SPLAT! Yuck, I thought, someone else’s blood. This mosquito had obviously dined on someone else first.

Which makes me wonder, do you think mosquitoes have DNA? We don’t usually think of insects having blood, just guts. But mosquitoes do carry other people’s blood so they must be carrying other people’s DNA.

If someone were to murder me tonight in my bed, for example, and the police took DNA samples from this patch of blood on my sleeve, they might accuse the wrong man. Or the wrong mosquito.

Mosquito court:

Judge: Name, please.

Mosquito: Mosqui.

Judge: Last name?

Mosquito: Toe.

Judge: Take the oath.

Mosquito: I, Miss Mosqui Toe, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, on my honor hope to die, stick a needle in a fly.

Judge: Where were you on the night of July 18th, at 11 pm?

Mosqui Toe: Flying around looking for dessert.

Judge: Where you with anyone?

Mosqui Toe: Yes, with my friend, Stingarella.

Judge: What kind of dessert were you looking for?

Mosqui Toe: We had dined on some exotic foreigners earlier and were looking for something of the AB blood type, which as you know Your Honor, is considered quite rare here in Indonesia. We thought there might be some of this exquisite dessert among the foreigners.

Judge: Did you find it?

Mosqui Toe: Not really. I was the first one to spot the American woman’s arm and I thought we should try it out.

Judge: What happened next?

Mosqui Toe: Stingarella took a dive to get it first but just then, a flash of light reflected off the girl’s silk pajamas, blinding Stingarella. He was forced to make an emergency landing on her sleeve. Then I heard SPLAT! It was awful.

Judge: What did you do then?

Mosqui Toe: I went down and made the best of it by lapping up the rest of Stingarella’s blood. Stingarella and I were very close. She would have wanted it.

Judge: So, you ingested Stingarella’s DNA as well as that of the exotic foreigners earlier.

Mosqui Toe: Yes, sir.

Judge: Where were you later that night, when Amy Chavez was found murdered, lying in a pool of blood?

Mosqui Toe: Well, sir, I had already gone home but the news of the free meal spread rapidly among my friends. Especially my pregnant friends, because as you know, Your Honor, we depend on the proteins in hemoglobin to nourish our eggs. Everyone I knew was descending upon the murder site. Usually a good meal involves sharpening the stinger, piercing the flesh and boring a hole. Breaking through the epidermis is just the beginning. Your whole body shakes as you work the stinger further in through that layer of fat to the capillaries, the way I’ve seen human construction workers use jack-hammers to bore through concrete. How could we resist such an easy meal?

Judge: Would you say these friends were accomplices to the crime?

Mosqui Toe: No sir, just opportunists.

Judge: Well, they should have reported the crime before dining. Case dismissed!

And the jury hums a Leo Sayer tune.


Don’t Let Yourself Become a Victim

On a more serious note, mosquito bites can have serious consequences. Malaria and dengue fever are spread by mosquitoes. The Anopheles mosquito infects nearly half a billion people with malaria worldwide every year. Bali and most cities in Java are considered malaria-free but you should take precautions when traveling anywhere else in Indonesia, especially in remote areas. The Aedes aegypti is the mosquito that spreads dengue fever, which strikes people in Bali every year, although tourists are at far less risk.

Take these simple steps to protect yourself:

Use a mosquito lotion. Indonesians use Autan, which only costs about Rp6,000 (45 US cents) and is easily recognized by its pink bottle. However, Autan contains only 12 percent DEET (the chemical that repels the mosquitoes). Twenty to 30 percent is recommended.

Spray your room with mosquito repellent (anti-nyamuk) before you go to sleep. As the dengue fever mosquito bites mostly during the day, also spray at dawn and dusk and in dark areas of the house such as closets and under beds.

Avoid wearing dark clothing and perfume.

Insecticidal mosquito nets can cut infections by half. If you can’t find a proper one, buy a couple meters of netting at a material shop.

Mosquitoes are most prevalent during the wet season, from October to May, so be especially vigilant during these times.

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