THERE are many things on this island that cause long and in-depth conversations; cyclists, weather, finances, regulations etc.
But the one issue that everyone appears to have a solution to is mosquitos.
Those little black blighters that you rarely see, sometimes hear and yet always know they’ve been, were starting to make our lives a misery.
I was not warned about them before I got here but I very quickly became aware of the carnage they leave behind.
Within a week our careful budget had been blown on anything and everything that might help.
Large itchy red lumps appeared in the most inconvenient places and it was immediately clear that placing a citronella candle close to the window was simply not good enough.
The shopping list included spray on repellent, plug in deterrents, dab on anti-itch treatments, certain essential oils they’re supposed to hate, Argon body oil from Eroski, vitamin b tablets, anti-mozzie candles and insect zapping sprays.
I became obsessed with cleaning the shower to ensure there was not even tiny standing water drops anywhere in our flat and if it rained any puddles had to go as this is apparently where they breed.
Oh yes, I googled them, they were the enemy and I was taking them on big time. Apart from making my life miserable, what is the point of them, what do they actually do?
Well apparently they feed bats and frogs and that’s it, hardly saving the World are they?
Their name means little fly and did you know for instance that only the female bites you, so 50% of them are harmless? Did you also know that you don’t feel them bite you because they have anaesthetic on their proboscis so by the time you see them on you it’s TOO LATE?!
Desperate for solutions, searches were made to find an Avon lady as apparently one of their body lotions is a guaranteed deterrent. I was gutted to find that they no longer make that product in its original form and that the ‘new improved’ version isn’t nearly as effective. (How very annoying and why is it that new improved versions of anything are always worse than the originals?).
My dream of balmy evenings sipping cool wine on the terrace as the sun went down was rapidly disappearing. Evenings are the absolute worst time of day for them and no amount of preparation would save us so it’s back inside with the windows closed.
We are said to be lucky as we have a front and rear garden, however both are bordered by hedges. Hedges are cool, dark and damp, which are perfect mosquito breeding grounds apparently.
When they need to be trimmed I have to spray them with repellent first, then get into the equivalent of a beekeeper’s suit for protection.
In fact the best deterrent I’ve discovered that even half works for me so far is making sure my partner’s with me. Once he’s there they all make a beeline to feast on him and I’m basically safe.
His whole body now resembles one of those impressionist’s paintings, with all the different sized dots and spots and on a bad day (or good depending on how you look at it) swollen bites on his face and neck can make him positively Picasso-esque.
When visitors arrive the first thing I do is thrust a bottle of insect deterrent into their hands and not let them out until they’ve used it. The cries of ‘Oh they never bite me!’ stop after a couple of hours outside and they’re desperate for the ant-itch dabber.
Throw in the fact that the itching gets worse when you drink alcohol I think without the anti-itch treatments I’d have given up and gone back to Blighty. We always have several dabbers, placed everywhere like the car, the bedroom, the lounge and of course in my handbag, in a vain attempt to stop myself ripping another chunk out of my skin.
I’m assured that Autumn is the worst time and it will get better plus I will also build up an immunity but last night sitting on my sofa with a fly spray in my hand blasting them as they came my way that really seemed pretty unlikely.
Someone once said keep your friends close but your enemies closer. This definitely does NOT apply to mosquitoes!