I’ve never spent a night counting the number of mosquitoes whining their high-pitched way around my bedroom, nor do I keep a record of the number of mosquito-free nights per year. But, I have a feeling that mosquitoes have been with us almost all the way through winter. That, for Cape Town, is an unusual occurrence. I think.
Mozzies (local vernacular for mosquitoes) are supposed to disappear in winter. I wonder if this isn’t the Cape’s version of the melting Polar ice cap; yet another sign of climate change that Al Gore can build into his next doccie.
When it comes to mozzies (like the onomatopoeia of that) I’m much luckier than the rest of my family. Whereas my skin has hardly any reaction to the bites, they come out in itchy spots, and bites around the eyes can induce some impressive swelling. No, it’s the sound that drives me mad. It’s like being dive-bombed by an entire squadron of Zero fighter planes.
My attitude to mosquitoes is similar to one I may adopt in a few years’ time when my kids and I are competing for the fridge’s beer stocks. Help yourself, leave some for me, and don’t make a noise. I know it seems kind of perverse to willingly offer myself as an all-night diner for the neighbourhood’s mozzies, but it is the line of least resistance. I’d rather they got their bloodmeal and then fucked off. The problem is that they whine around the bedroom disturbing my sleep.
I have two ways of dealing with this. One involves lying on my side and covering my head with the duvet, which blocks out the bulk of the sound. My other strategy – one I’m rather proud of, actually – sees me lying in the same position, except that my right hand is cupped at my left ear, ready to grab/crush/kill when the pitch of the sound indicates that the mozzie is in the right position. I’ve even done this while half-asleep.
Judging by the silence that sometimes follows I’d have to regard the method as successful. If I was properly scientific about it I’d immediately leap out of bed, switch the lights on and hunt for carcasses, but the point of the exercise is to get back to sleep as quickly as possible.
Until climate change gets so bad that Cape Town becomes a malaria zone, mosquitoes’ ‘bark’ – for me – is worse than their bite.