Fodors warned us: Bring mosquito spray. I disregarded the warning because mosquitos never liked me. They avoided me as though I had sour blood. Even as a kid, friends at camp would bite-compete, counting them on their shins, itchy kneecaps, the winner being queen bee for a day. I was always the lone Charlie Brown looking into her pillow case after a trick or treat– not even a rock. I’d fake it, finding the beginnings of a beauty mark, “Here! I found one! And it’s really scratchy!” As usual the one bully-girl of the bunk would say, “That’s a fat-ass zit!”
As an adult, it’s been an advantage. I am proud of my naturally-mosquito-resistant blood, thankful in fact that I’ve never had pink welts followed by excessive itching on my heels, thumbs or ankles.
Until my husband and I took the lovely, winding ride to Hana, in Maui. We stopped at the Garden of Eden, a bird sanctuary and arboretum. We didn’t bring bug spray. Hubby was immediately attacked by those buzzing blood suckers. (He would have been camp King ten years in a row in the Fishcat Bunk.) Being solution-oriented, I said, “Maybe the dude at the cash-collecting hut has some deet you can borrow.” And hubby was off.
I stayed and chatted with a Oaklahoma transplant now a professional duck feeder. I helped feed, as she told me about these colorful creatures considered a nuisance in South America but welcomed in this habitat. They had whispering quacks and wagged their tails as I fed them. I was enamored and ignored the brown mucky pond a few feet away.
Hubby returned with a green aerosol can of poison, an oxymoron in this oasis, and sprayed earlobes to toe nails. I figured, “Well, it is pretty moist here. I’ll just squirt my exposed areas.”
When we returned to our hotel, and stripped to shower, it was then I noticed something on my body I had never seen before. Not just one, two or five mosquito bites, but a scattered army of bright pink welts, the Battle of the bulge on my calf, the Normandy invasion on my un-toned triceps! These bites were marching up and down my arms and legs.
I shrieked, “What the (expletive)!” Or, if you’d prefer, “Gadzooks!”
Hubby jumped to my side, “What?”
“Oh my g-d!” Yes, even hubby, passed recipient King of the Bunk, was speechless.
After the next fifteen minutes of shock, awe and me saying, “But mosquitos never like me… I don’t get it… Why didn’t I spray more?” And hubby-detective saying, “Maybe it happened when you were feeding the ducks by that muddy pond…” I refused to believe this anomaly on my body.
Hubby surfed, not in the great blue ocean fifty yards from our hotel, but on the internet.
Guess what? Turns out the bites weren’t from mosquitos after all.
GNATS!!!– Or more specific, Biting Midges aka No-See-Ums. (The latter being the name a scientist’s five year old probably made up unless it was me– Gno-See-Um-Gno-Fling-Ums… Gno-gnat-gnonsense… or a new Broadway musical about insecta-bitulus, Gno-Gno-Nagnat…)
“The midges are nearly invisible to the unaided eye and can pass through normal window screens and even some mosquito netting. When under attack by these flies outdoors people often say something like “I’m getting bit but I can’t see what’s biting me!”While there are many non-biting midges, or gnats, these are the only midges that bite.” http://www.livingwithbugs.com/swe_itch.html
I had no idea.
Having now been bit, I am wary of all areas outdoors. To the beach, bring deet, to the picnic—deet, Haleakala Crater (as barren as the moon)—deet.
Hubby reassured me, “Maybe you’re immune now, like when you got the chicken pox as a kid… you did have the chicken pox, right?”
“Hmmm.” I went back to playing detective, “Maybe the midges liked my gluten free diet.”
Hubby laughed, “Yeah, they took one bite of me, spit out that processed bread and hopped over to you.”
“Ya never know,” I said.
Do you have a biting story?