Why can't all mosquitoes bite the dust?

By Liu Jun ( China Daily ) Updated: 2007-07-27 10:55:37

My husband came home one morning complaining of mosquito bites. No, he did not spend the night in the jungle, he works night shift in a national news corporation.

Despite freezing air-con - prompting the anchor ladies to put on heavy wintry coats - the mosquitoes that usually thrive in steaming summer are abnormally active in the spacious studio.

Throughout the night, one could hear "smack!" here and there from the cubicles where the editors work. My husband is amazed at how the charming ladies could curse when they are sure nobody sees them. But more amazing is how clever and resilient the mosquitoes can be.

Lu Xun, a great writer and thinker of modern Chinese history, once wrote about his medical studies in Japan in the early 20th century. To fend off the mosquitoes, he wrapped himself up with clothes, leaving only a hole for breathing. "Where air is constantly going in and out, the mosquitoes find no place to sting. I thus had a good sleep."

This article was included in middle school textbooks. Strangely, we don't remember anything about the cherry blossoms or the Japanese doctor who was very strict on Lu Xun. The passage on mosquito, however, serves as a motto when we battle the insect.

However, I suspect that mosquitoes have also learned from the article, as they are obviously much more intelligent than a century ago.

Even though my husband wraps himself up and leaves no entry open, one or two smart mosquitoes always manage to creep inside and treat themselves to a big meal.

"As soon as I open my eyes, they'd take off in laughter before I moved a muscle," sighed my husband, counting red bumps on his arm. "I've eaten Vitamin B pills and rubbed Baby Gold Water all over me!"

Baby Gold Water (Baobao Jinshui) is a brown liquid made of herbal medicine for children to fend off insects. Each time our 2-year-old boy goes out to play, he'd hop up and down, singing: "Bao Bao Jin (Baby gold)!"

Every night, we check the mosquito net over his small bed several times. We fan the window screen vehemently before pulling it up to close the window.

Still, my son woke up one day, scratching his head. "The mosquito has planted a small mushroom!"

My mother has a primitive but effective treatment for mosquito bites. Apply a bit of your own saliva and press your fingernail twice and hard on the bump to curb the itch.

"We planted vegetables and carried goods along mountain paths besieged by all sorts of insects. We had no medicine at that time," says Mum who can recognize many medicinal herbs she learned in her childhood in Sichuan.

I grew up in Yunnan. The locals pride themselves with "18 eccentric things", one of which was: Three big mosquitoes could be a dish. But we soon realized, those palm-sized mosquitoes never stung. The tiny ones with black-white legs were the real savages. "Any scientist who can get rid of mosquito, fly and rat ought be granted the Nobel Peace Prize!" my husband declared to our son. Until that scientist grows up, we'll have to contend ourselves with my mother's method, or hope for winter to come sooner.

(China Daily 07/27/2007 page20)


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