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India's Mosquito Menace

India's Mosquito Menace

February 13, 2011

Be it communal clapping or mosquito racquets, the battle against the mosquito continues….

There is a routine in every city, town and village of India. It is a special routine and one which has evolved over the course of time, though the essential objective remains the same.

It begins as the sun sets and the shadows grow longer. When TVs are switched on for the commencement of prime time serials. It is imperative that each and every window is shut before that lone street lamp lights up signaling the arrival of the evening.

This is merely a preliminary procedure in the age-old tradition of keeping out one of the Indians’ oldest enemy - the dreaded Mosquito.

Mosquitoes have thrived under the loving and nurturing care of Indian gutters and rubbish heaps. And the rapidly darkening sky signals their time to step out and embark on a ‘bloody’ drinking binge which lasts till the wee hours of the morning.

Keep in mind that closing windows is but a small step in the comprehensive high-security anti-Mosquito routine. Next is the lighting of the mosquito coils in the house. Very similar to the Diwali tradition of lighting diyas all around the house to ward off evil.

But mosquito coils can be a messy business, so last week’s Indian Express sports page makes itself useful at this point. They are usually slipped under the coil to collect any burnt ashes. Some of the older folks might also engage in walking around the house with a frankincense incense burner leaving a nice aromatic smell which supposedly keeps the mosquitoes at bay.

In recent years, the new Electric Mosquito racquet has become quite the rage in India. It's your fun, calorie-burning way to fight against 'em macchars. It provides the whole family from Mummy-ji to Chintu beta with sufficient exercise. All you need to do is wield the bat in the air like a tennis pro or a Viking hero (depending on your choice of adventure).

The most rewarding part is that satisfying crackling sound when the mesh comes in contact with a mosquito and sends it cheerfully to its spark-filled death. This continues till bedtime when GoodKnight liquid vaporisers are switched on for the night while the family huddles inside their beds carefully tucking in their mosquito nets over their bed corners.

You might think that with such a complete routine in place, there's no way an errant mosquito could pry its way in. You would be sadly mistaken. Because each generation of mosquito continues to evolve and grow an extra shield of protection against all mosquito weaponry known to man.

Mosquitoes can be sadistic too. They bite when you when you have just cut (or bit) your fingernails to their shortest, depriving you of the satisfaction of being able to scratch yourself into a red, blotchy frenzy. Sometimes they bite when you are in a sort of ‘arm-less’ situation – rolling out chapathis , or cleaning fish, or some other hand-consuming task where you can only grit your teeth and resort to facial contortions as the itching starts to set in.

I should give a special mention to mosquito repellant creams, although we Indians would never actually use those, would we? Those are reserved for the unsuspecting white tourists who have (gasp!) never ever been bitten by a mosquito in their entire lives and actually believe (yes they actually do), that a layer of cream will keep the ubiquitous Indian mosquito at bay.

Despite all our efforts, there are those unfortunate days when the Routine cannot be followed. The windows are left open too long. Or there is a power outage making the vaporisers and racquets redundant. Or a tiny mosquito gets trapped under the net and keeps you awake all night itching and cursing.

On such days we Indians resort to the most ancient, albeit tried and tested, technique of repelling mosquitoes - communal clapping.

Clap in the air, flap your hands, and slap your neighbour’s face - communal clapping is a time intensive activity in its own right. But experienced ‘clappers’ can be more effective than any product.

So just remember, getting down to basics might be the best way after all. Happy Swatting! 


  • akaash
    07.07.11 04:32 PM
    @ maria i have also seen some mosquitos bate only selected people but i would like the know how mosquito will know that persons blood group is "O" ..?
  • Maria
    15.02.11 07:15 AM
    @Barnaby : Not scratching eh? Now that ones down on my to-do list for the next India visit

    @Plingal : As I was writing this article, I did a bit of 'research' and supposedly mosquitoes love people with 'O' blood group more....and then pregnant ladies are the next best targets it seems :D

    @Noel : Ugh! You are soooo right about the annoying buzzing sound they make. Skipped that point here.
  • Noel
    14.02.11 07:47 PM
    the thing i hate most about mosquitoes (especially the mallu variety :P ) is the fact that they would never let you sleep in peace... I mean its ok if they bite you but why do they have to have all those annoying sound-effects (a high-pitched 'buzzzzz' right next to your ear)??!!

    To be honest in a way mosquitoes are much more tolerable.. they are no match for the ants in India (and I'm not talking about the big red ones). These little dark things (they look more like worms than ants) would eat almost anything!! And by anything I mean anything... (from the food on your table to your clothes to your mattress!!!). And their favourite food is humans!! their bite is so painful and itchy the mosquito's bite is like nothing!! And the worst part is that we still haven't found anything that stops them!!!
  • Plingal
    14.02.11 07:27 PM
    You forgot to mention one tried and trusted method (if done right) - the Claustrophobic Mosquito Net .. :).

    Also have you noticed that mosquito's tend to target certain individuals over others - Unfortunately I was always on their hit list .. :(
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    14.02.11 12:08 PM
    I rely solely on Good Knight myself. I need little more as I trained myself, years ago, to ignore the itch of a mosquito bite and let it subside over a few minutes rather than prolonging it by scratching away. Try it! It's like a brand new life!
  • Maria
    14.02.11 11:12 AM
    Ah! I totally sympathise with you Sharrell... The macchars will get at you somehow. Hopefully the batting gives you some sort of a 'revenge' satisfaction against them! Like I said, Happy Swatting! :D
  • sharell
    13.02.11 09:36 AM
    Oh how those damn mosquitoes make me suffer!! No matter if the windows are closed and the mosquito net firmly secured, they still manage to find a way in and feast on my blood at night and early in the morning. They also congregate in swarms at the front door, and I have to go on a huge massacre with the bat every morning when I go outside. But yes, that is so satisfying!! (And the cream definitely doesn't work... they always manage to find a patch of skin that has been sufficiently drowned in chemicals). :-(

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