August 20

World Mosquito Day

 

You’ve closed the curtains and turned off all the lights in the house, but the buzzing outside continues.

For some reason, mosquitoes have always sought you out.  On a camping trip with schoolmates, you complained about insect bites when your friends were mostly untouched.  In the morning, one side of your tent was covered with plump mosquitoes…and your exposed arms and legs, your neck and face, were covered with raised red welts.

You later learned that light-colored clothing attracted mosquitoes, but your dark clothing never did much to repel them.  Perhaps your fair skin was an equal attractant, and you typically wore long sleeve t-shirts and long pants even in the hottest summer months.  Despite such precautions, you could pull down the elastic top of a sock and find a fresh welt hidden beneath.  Or you’d catch yourself scratching an itch near your elbow, and find new mosquito bites rising where your sleeve should have protected you.  Liberal doses of over-the-counter insect repellant were equally ineffective — some mosquito or other always managed to get past your defenses.

The best explanation you read about was that some people were born with a body chemistry that naturally attracted mosquitoes.  You were one of the “lucky” few whose skin emitted an apparently irresistible smell that these insects could detect.  They were drawn to you like a magnet.

The itching was bad enough.  You also worried that any mosquito that bit you might be a carrier of some terrible disease such as malaria, yellow fever, the West Nile or Zika viruses…  It was enough to make you avoid the outdoors as much as possible.  Your sixth floor apartment has a lovely balcony, but you’ve never allowed yourself the luxury of stepping out there to enjoy the view.

The buzzing continues from outside.  You hear the strange squeak and puckered release of insect feet travelling along the glass door that leads to your balcony.

It no longer matters if the mosquitoes are transmitting diseases.

Something got to them first.  Transformed them.

The buzzing is so loud.  In former days, you’d think a huge swarm of the insects gathered outside your apartment.  They’re all attracted to you, waiting in an awful blood-sucking cloud.

You don’t need to pull the balcony curtain aside to realize what’s out there now.

More squeaks drag along the outside of the glass door.  You step closer, thinking maybe you could move the sofa or other furniture to cover the entrance.

Suddenly, a section of the wall breaks beside the door, and a proboscis the size of an elephant’s trunk bursts through with the force of a thrown javelin.

The insect’s sense of smell has been magnified along with its body.  You’re not surprised that it’s found you so easily.