Irritation

The smell of drains doesn’t just waft through the air today. It pierces the air, penetrating like a cloak of rancid, twice-rotten flowers. If flowers can make for pleasantry then this stab of air marks tragedy.

The tide of a thousand homes, an old and battered sewerage system coupled no doubt, with the carcass of a decaying rodent or two. Today, air-fresheners, odour eaters, friendly flowery fragrances or a breeze of fresh air are poor weapons against this whiff. Any feeling of unease is exasperated. Stomachs clench, each breath of air tense, the head dizzy with intoxication of vile odours.

I’d had three classes today. They had flown by. One class, with the catchily named door of 603F was moderately okay. The students seemed mostly amazed how I could wear just a T-shirt and shorts in the 25°C heat. The low tonight will be 15°C at night. I find the night time is like a cuddle on a depressing day. It welcomes me, it beckons me, and it is my sanctuary. That may be the reason I sleep so poorly. The lack of humidity certainly makes for a much more Scotland-like climate. I explained Edinburgh’s high temperature was 1°C today—cries of “Game over,” rang around the classroom. One student almost fainted. I told them that even in that cold, I’d wear shorts. “You are crazy!” shouted a student, straight to the point.

I wish she’d pierce off and bother Piers Morgan or some other non-interesting infamous anti-celebrity.

I’d arrived here several months back and already March seemed like summer. Why did I do it to myself? The first week of March had seen a huge boom in vampire-like mosquito numbers. Mosquito zapping rackets, sprays of chemicals like DEET, anti-mosquito coils, strong-winded fans blowing swirling air, repellent stickers and more have been deployed, often to little effect. They find me everywhere, these herculean and formidable monsters with wings. The little bloodsucking devil flies plod on, their seemingly endless feasts creating many an itch or bitemark on the many brave souls willing to walk, sit down or be exposed to the crowded evening skies. I have nothing against the short-lived male mosquito; he happens to obey the five-a-day fruit campaign of western countries to a tee. His bushy antennae allow him chance to find a mate amongst a huge swarm around dusk. There are plenty of swarms locally of late. His mates irk me. Today, I spent too many a minute itching last night’s irritation.

My mosquito sexism is actually pure hatred for the female of the species. Her tube-like proboscis wants to pierce us warm-blooded victims. I wish she’d pierce off and bother Piers Morgan or some other non-interesting infamous anti-celebrity. Her saliva, the drooling winged menace, causes irritation and sometimes carries vector-borne diseases. Global diseases like malaria, yellow fever, west-Nile virus and filariasis are the direct result of this girl group on a par with the Spice Girls or other equally talent-free girl bands for repetitive irritation levels. You’ll be left with a small or large wheal (histamines trying to fight off the protein left by the attacking insect). I personally just want to squash them under a car wheel. My students today, in one class, weren’t quite as annoying, but a close second. Though, I’d certainly wish them no ill.

On inspecting a mosquito close up, they can be surprisingly colourful or patterned. Often each opportunistic species sports a separate brand of colour-schemes. Their body is alien in shape but surely inspirational in simplistic, natural aviation design shapes. Their crepuscular feeding times mean that every day you have the chance to see one here in Dongguan. Every day, all year. We also host other species such as the Asian tiger mosquito, popping out during the day to raid you for some sweet blood.

To public health officials the world over, knowing which species is where and what threat they present is important. I personally splat them on an equal basis. Zero discrimination. Dead. But who is to blame for the spread of the mosquito and their 3,500+subspecies? Man. Sudden deforestation, loss of isolated habitats and even scientific studies have carried some nasty biters around the planet, surprisingly mostly by ship, train and aircraft. Their simple lifecycle from egg, to larva to pupa is often unnoticed. Once they mature into adults, the war begins. This is where we humans also mess up royally again. Most species lay eggs in stagnant water. Man-made reservoirs, drainpipes, drains, buckets, storm drain channels… oh the list goes on. All play their part in incubating the scrounging, sponging species of spectacular survival.

Our most deadly foe has been around since the dawn of time and the battle against these freeloaders shall never end. The world’s ecosystem depends on them for pollination and they are dependent on us for blood. So, take up your arms and keep swatting…

Category Well Read