Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Asymmetrical Warfare

Vergennes, VT
44 10.17 N 073 15.48 W

One of my most hated experiences on the boat is an invasion of evening mosquitoes.    

Of course we close hatches and ports, and put up screens in the evening.  The problem is that sometimes we're slow and evening comes too fast.  When that happens, we get a whole bunch of blood thirsty mosquitoes invades us soon after sunset.

I don't mean the occasional lone mosquito that goes buzz buzz around the cabin at night.  I mean a squadron of hungry female mosquitoes who are there for one purpose only -- to bite us.  A squadron has at least a dozen members.  Of course, upon detecting the invasion I scramble to close whatever was left open, but that's too late.

My remedial efforts are immediate and frantic.  All lights go on, to better illuminate the white painted surfaces where they are best spotted.  Then we grab our fly swatters.  We have one for each of us.  Then I begin the hunting pattern.   I check my own body, then check Libby's body (I really like that part), then I check all over the inside of the boat to spot a mosquito.

When we see one, we swat it.  We're on-target about 2/3 of the time.   Then  the scanning process repeats.  It takes about two hours to kill the last of the squadron.   By that time, we can open the hatches and screens again, because new mosquitoes stop arriving.  All this time, I'm tormented by itching.  Psychosomatic itching sure, but itching nevertheless.

Given that we are superior beings, much bigger, more intelligent, armed with technology and highly refined weapons (swatters), there should be no contest. Right.   After all, at the end of the evening all the mosquitoes are dead and none of the crew is dead.  But wait!  It's not that simple.   8 of the 12 mosquitoes we kill, leave behind big splotches of blood.  Our blood!  Despite our defenses, 75% of them manage to bite us and suck blood before we get them.   Arrrrrg.

I should mention that the mosquito problem is worst when tied up to a dock, or anchored too near shore.   When we are anchored more than 100 meters from shore, insects are much less of a problem. 

Biting flies are a similar problem.  They drive Libby crazy more than me.  The problem with flies is that they appear in the middle of the day when we can't shut ourselves inside behind screens.   They also appear much farther from shore; sometimes 10 or more miles from shore.  The only good thing about that is that 9 of 10 days we encounter no flies at all.

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