Every region of the United States has its own particular insect nuisance, but Gulf Coast bugs are...well...special. Since Hurricane Katrina wiped out most of the local bat population--and therefore natural population controls--they've been particularly nasty.
Last summer's weather conditions made it a banner year for mosquitoes. We were more than happy when several geckos were discovered in the house, and let them stay. The children have been taught to never, ever swat a 'mosquito hawk' or 'skeeter eater' that finds its way indoors.
Midges, otherwise known as No See-Ums or "Flying Teeth", are perhaps the most aggravating. They look like this,
but they feel like this:
Despite its microscopic size, this nasty gnat boasts a ferocious bite. It measures only about 1/32 of an inch in length, and can easily slip through the mesh of screen doors and windows. You might not see 'um, but you definitely feel 'um. When the midge feeds, it slices open the skin with a razor-sharp mouth designed especially for the job. Then it injects the wound with secretions from its salivary glands to keep the blood from clotting while it has its fill, chewing up a small area of your flesh.
It's enough to make your skin crawl, itch, blister, bleed and scar--and it does. A small, intensely itchy bump will appear about a day after you've been bitten. Scratching and digging at the bump, as you will doubtless do, only makes it spread and itch worse. Don't worry; bites fade in just a few days, unless you are one of those who does not react well to the anticoagulant agent--in which case you will be blistered and exquisitely itchy for at least two weeks, and should invest in one of these nifty suits:
When I was six or seven years old, I always used to wonder why biting insects exist. I couldn't come up with a single use for them, except human torment. It turns out that the Flying Teeth actually do serve a purpose. In Costa Rica, they pollinate the rubber tree, the cacao bush, and the mango tree. Without cacao, you would not have chocolate. Most southerners could do without mangos, but chocolate is an altogether different matter.
If you're coming to south Mississippi, be sure and eat plenty of garlic on a daily basis and don't forget to take your B-vitamins. Both are supposed to help to make you less appealing to the winged, biting hordes...unless you're me, in which case it apparently makes you taste better. If you make it as far as my house without being eaten alive, you're welcome to try an herbal repellent I'm cooking up. According to a study done by the military, one of the ingredients is more effective than DEET at repelling the nasty critters. I'll be sure to let you know how it works.
Tune in next moth...I mean, month...for another episode of "What's Buggin' You?"...