Until a few years ago, our mosquito problem often continued into November — long after the killing frost is supposed to take care of them. We tried one of those high-tech, ultrasonic bug repellers that you plug in to an outlet. We still got bitten and the "inaudible" sound totally freaked out a couple of our cats. We sent it back. I finally got fed up and called an exterminator for a free inspection. His theory was that they were breeding in our leaky fireplace chimneys after rainstorms. Taping up the dampers solved the problem. (The alternative was to light fires and smoke 'em.)
But we always get mosquitoes throughout the summer, whenever it's cool enough to sleep well without the air conditioner and with the windows open. Even when it's warm in the bedroom, I try to sleep under the sheet to protect as much skin as possible. But my feet like to stick out, so I get bitten there, and on my hands. And twice in the past three nights, I've been awakened by bites on my eyelids. Ugh. Ow. And so attractive in the next few days.
So, I get up, turn on the blinding overhead light, find my glasses, and creep around the bedroom with a tissue. I found and killed both of the evil eyelid biters, both full of my bright red blood. Mosquitoes either get lazy or don't fly well after a meal, so it's usually possible to hunt them down not far from the crime scene.
Which is not to say that mosquito hunting is not frustrating and annoying. Scrutinizing the bedroom walls when you're half-awake and itching at 2 am can seem like a nightmare.
After I squash the bug, I stumble into the kitchen to take an antihistamine — my allergy medicine, Allegra, stops the itch in about a half hour. At the same time, I try to convince two or three milling cats to wait until a reasonable hour for their breakfast. As I lie in bed, waiting for the itching and burning to stop and sleep to return, I worry about West Nile virus and debate whether bites on eyelids are worse than bites on feet. I have yet to make up my mind. I also wonder if I've already had West Nile: I had a weird summer virus years ago, accompanied by a very stiff neck. And, naturally, I had more than my share of mosquito bites at the time. So maybe I'm safe, but that's not much comfort in the dark.
I'll probably have another opportunity to consider these questions in the next few hours. But tonight I'm going to be smart and keep the Allegra bottle and a glass of water next to the bed.