As much as I am a novelty for people in this city, I think I’m more of a novelty for mosquitos. They seem to target me, and I think I get bitten several times a day. While that isn’t as dangerous here as it could be in other places (Dengue cases are quite infrequent, and malaria isn’t present), it still worries me. Also the bites are damned itchy and annoying to deal with.
So heres a few precautions I take to try to prevent from being eaten alive.
- Wear long clothes as much as possible. This isn’t too difficult, because my salwar kameez covers me from elbow to ankle, however my ankles are exposed and often get targeted. And of an evening I like to wear something cooler and with a bit more freedom (either a typical Indian house dress, also known as a maxi, or a cotton dress I brought from home). But covering up as much as possible is the best way to prevent mosquito bites.
- Apply insect repellant to exposed skin. Again, this is not a fool proof method because I’m absent minded and often forget to apply the lotion, but it is very effective. My repellant of choice here is Odomos, which doesn’t contain loads of chemicals designed to kill or knock down the mosquitos. Instead, it masks your body odour, meaning that mosquitos can’t find you. You’re basically the Invisible Man when you have Odomos on.
- Put mosquito netting onto windows. This stops mosquitos from coming into your house and hiding out in dark corners, waiting for a chance to strike. Unfortunately this does not seem to be a norm in the rented houses I have seen here, but I’m making it a point to put it on all my windows so that I can keep them open for some air circulation, and not have swarms of mosquitos invite themselves inside around 6pm for dinner.
- A mosquito net over your bed. I have one tucked into each side of my mattress, with no gaps for mosquitos to sneak into while I am sleeping. This brings the most peace of mind, because i know that there are no mosquitos in my vicinity, and I can’t hear any of them buzzing around my head while I am trying to sleep. However the occasional one does get inside somehow (I think they sneak in with me as I get under the net… Sneaky buggers). Plus its pretty cool sleeping under a mosquito net.
- Invest in some electronic mosquito repellant vaporisers. These are reasonably cheap here, and plug into the power socket. They have a little tube of mosquito repellant which is vaporised. From what I can gather they are reasonably safe, and I haven’t noticed any odour coming from mine. Its much less obtrusive than the traditional mosquito coils. I have one in every room of the house, and they come on whenever I have power. However, I think they are most effective in rooms which are shut up (windows and doors), so I’m not sure of the effectiveness of the one in my bedroom, because all my windows are open. Doesn’t hurt to have one though.
- Light up a mosquito coil. Sometimes when I am feeling particularly besieged, I light a mosquito coil. The smoke repels mosquitos, but it stinks and I am really not comfortable with breathing it in for an extended period of time.
- Squish them. If I see a mosquito buzzing around, I begin in a single minded mission to hunt it down and squish it between my hands, on the wall, window or whatever surface I can. I know this isn’t really responsible or effective but it brings me a great deal of joy. Especially when I’ve just woken up of a morning to see that there is one inside my mosquito net. And extra satisfaction comes when I get one inside my net only to see that it has left a red stain after I squished it. Karma for biting me while I was sleeping and defenceless.
- Don’t go outside after dark. Night time belongs to the mosquitos. Don’t enter their territory unless you have to, and even then make sure you are adequately prepared by adopting as many of the above measures as is humanly (and socially) possible.
- Burn a wax match. Apparently if you burn a wax match (boxes of which are available for 1 INR), and wave it around the room, the smoke from the match will make the mosquitos drowsy and slower. Thus easier to track down and squish. I haven’t tested this out yet but I’m sure the day is coming when I lose my mind and try it.
If you have any suggestions on other ways to prevent mosquitos, please, let me know. I will try anything. Anything. ANYTHING.