Lileks: Skeeter-free tips for the summer

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 22, 2013 - 6:00 PM

If you ever complain about the mosquitoes, read some history of the construction of the Panama Canal. Say, Pierre, you could shave the blanket of bloodsucking insects off my back with the edge of your machete? Much obliged; I think I’m down a quart.

It’s not quite that bad here, but the monsoons of June have raised a bumper crop of skeeters.

Naturally, you are scanning the newspaper, looking for ways to keep from being drained by the thirsty little fiends.

How do I deal with a bite?

Here are your options, outside of staking out a goat in the yard as bait or using the spray that works but gets in your mouth somehow and makes the Screwdriver taste like it’s made with Agent Orange Juice.

The Citronella Tiki Torch. You fill it full of special oil, place several around the yard and set them on fire, releasing a cloud of chemicals female mosquitoes don’t like. Think “Axe” cologne. Advantages: Makes you wonder if you should roast a pig on a spit, but it’s not like you can pick one up at Cub. And even if you could, you’d want it with the spit already in, because that’s something you really don’t want to do and the kids don’t need to see. Well, let’s just have ham sandwiches. Disadvantages: Doesn’t work.

Deep-Woods Chemical Spray. This repels not just skeeters but ticks, chiggers, horseflies and humans. The last group includes yourself, because you can’t help feeling you doused yourself in something banned by international convention in 1919 after revulsion over chemical warfare. Advantages: Possibly works; you can easily walk through dense brush because leaves dissolve on contact if you’ve put on enough. Disadvantages: Wears off.

New Cleen-Scent Kid-Friendly Bug-B-Gone with Aloe Vera (chemical free!). Advantages: Contains moisturizing lotions, so every time you slap a bug you’re making your skin more supple and youthful looking. Disadvantages: Appears to be mislabeled Mosquito Mating Pheromones, at least from my personal experience.

There you go, and remember, it’s the price we pay for summer. Although I was in a hot tropical place once that had no mosquitoes at all. The “Panama Canal,” they called it.

Wonder what their secret was.

 

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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