Friday, February 18, 2005

Mrs Mosquito vs Mr Blackie


Well it's another one of those Sydney late summer nights and I have left the screen door open so the black cat can go outside and then get bored with that and come back in. This goes on several times. Trying to dissuade him from this activity by closing the screen door, makes him only more determined to scratch it until you open it. Damage to the screen door at the base can attest to Mr Blackie's determination.

After all he's a cat.

A well aimed rolled up *small* piece of paper sent in his direction followed by him running away, results in aloofness for a couple of days. And we're talking about a prettty aloof feline in the first place.

So the cat wins again.

So...... the screen door was left open for Mr Blackie......AND IN CAME THE MOSQUITOS. I always seem to forget about the mosquitos.

DAMN! Now my ankles are itchy, being the only unexposed part of me.

So being curious about mosquitos I went to the howstuffworks website after a brief google search and found out some stuff about mozzies (as we call 'em downunder).

Mosquitoes are insects that have been around for over 30 million years. And it seems that, during those millions of years, mosquitoes have been honing their skills so that they are now experts at finding people to bite. A mosquito has a battery of sensors designed to track their prey, including:

* Chemical sensors - mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide and lactic acid up to 100 feet (36 meters) away. Mammals and birds gives off these gases as part of their normal breathing. Certain chemicals in sweat also seem to attract mosquitoes (people who don't sweat much don't get nearly as many mosquito bites).
* Visual sensors - if you are wearing clothing that contrasts with the background, and especially if you move while wearing that clothing, mosquitoes can see you and zero in on you. It's a good bet that anything moving is "alive", and therefore full of blood, so this is a good strategy.
* Heat sensors - Mosquitoes can detect heat, so they can find warm-blooded mammals and birds very easily once they get close enough.

Which tells me once one is inside......I'm a goner.

Later in the piece I found out that only female mosquitos do the blood sucking (the males must be at home watching football) and the itching is due to their saliva being attacked by our immune system as it breaks down the proteins. Add to this, the saliva has anti-coagulant properties. I wouldn't mind them biting so much, if it didn't sting and if their buzz wasn't so damn annoying.

Nevertheless, a mosquito buzz is less annoying than a cat scratching a screen door. And yes I know I can fire up some incense sticks, citronella oil, use insect repellant etc..... but once these ideas enter my head it's usually too late. The itching has started and the rolled up newspaper is at the ready. I ask them to leave.

If they don't.............

There's tinge of guilt, accompanied by the thought of "Good luck in you next reincarnation." (which I lifted from some guru's quotes in my long years of web surfing)........ as the newspaper falls on the hapless mozzie.


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