This is my bed:
Nice, right? Note the netting – a new addition! I put up the mosquito netting because I kept waking up between 3 and 4am with painful hands. The mosquitoes would bite me on the knuckles while I slept – always on the knuckles. I don’t know a lot about mosquitoes except that I don’t like them. I don’t know if they give off chemicals that tell other mosquitoes where to go. They seem to enjoy my joints (getting high off human blood…).
One night I woke up, my hands tingling with bites. I turned on my lights, and there above my bed were four fat mosquitoes. Still half-asleep and full of anger, I smashed them all and left blood stains on my wall. I sat there staring at my clock. I’m ok on a little sleep, but I am worthless on interrupted sleep. And this was happening almost every night. I was going a little crazy. I would wake up to phantom mosquito sounds at 3am, turn on my light, and sit in perfect silence for fifteen minutes or so, ears straining for humming. When I finally caught one, I was so relieved that I wasn’t going insane. When I didn’t, I worried that I had finally cracked.
Recognizing that such paranoia (and repeated sleep deprivation) was not healthy, I put up the netting. The first night I got bit twice. I chalked it up to accidentally trapping the mosquitoes in with me. Then another night, another set of bites. I woke up in the morning to see two fat mosquitoes on the inside of my netting. My paranoia settled back in. I wasn’t safe inside my shield? But I had put up a wall around me – how did they breach my defenses?
I realized the problem through sitting up in the middle of the night, listening to humming. For whatever reason (again, I don’t study mosquitoes), the little bloodsuckers here stick to the floor level. They don’t come swooping down – they sort of drift up. And the netting was behind my headboard, so the mosquitoes were under my bed, and coming up in the rather large gap under my bed between the netting/headboard and the mattress. That’s why they were always perched on my headboard. That’s why they always bit my hands – I sleep with my hands above my head, putting them closest to the gap.
So I put the netting next to the mattress. A little more intrusive, but worth it to keep from getting bit. Problem solved *dusts itchy hands off*.
Then I got bit some more.
Last night I woke up, having just sleep-smacked myself in the ear/pillow as a mosquito taunted me. I turned on the light. Just above me was a mosquito with a swollen abdomen. My hand itched. My sleep victim was a blood spot on my pillow – lovely. Looking around, I saw another post-gorging insect by the net’s overlap. And I started to blubber. I was the picture of piteous, broken defeat. I don’t think I’ve blubbered like a little girl since…I was a little girl.
The great injustices of the universe tumbled down upon me at 3:47am. All I wanted was to make it through a night without getting bit. I’m so scared of getting that lone case of malaria, even though it’s not a threat in this province. I’m tired of my hands hurting. And how – HOW ARE THEY GETTING IN?! Not fully awake, I rise to my feet on the mattress and start inspecting. There are no holes. There are no gaps. How is it that three – THREE – mosquitoes get in? Do they help each other out? Is my bed some horrible reverse of The Great Escape?
The only other problem I can see is that the netting lets me out – It’s not a perfect bubble. It’s got an opening where the edges overlap, and there is a gap sometimes between the two edges. I’ve noticed it, but when I look at it and think “A bug would have to be really smart to figure out how to get in this way.” Mosquitoes aren’t smart. They’re just voracious. I’m still more upset by the number. Ok, one lone mosquito figures out how to get in and bites me. Asshole mosquito. But three? They must be in cahoots. There must be chemical clues, like ants marking the way to cake.
I could tuck in the edge at night. I could buy a little velcro and ensure that the edges don’t open up. It’s a small inconvenience to me, but it might be best in the long run/ immediate need for a full night’s sleep.
The other solution is to never open my windows. As far as solutions go it’s absolute. Just stick to the air conditioner and accept that my room will start to smell stale after a while. But on cool days I like opening my window and letting the breezes make the curtains waft around. It’s pretty, damnit.
- Wafting curtains and environmental awareness, accepting that IKEA makes the single worst mosquito netting in the history of all netting?
- Or air conditioning and a stale room, where I get to sleep without fear of humming in my ear and bites on my hands?
I do alright with most bugs in my room, reaction wise. If I don’t feel threatened by them I throw them out my window and let them live (millipedes for example). I hate mosquitoes, but the only time I really had a girly freak out was when a giant cockroach got stuck in my drying sheets. That was awful because it was scared too, and it was so fast and I almost couldn’t squish it because it darted around so much. And it was big.
(I took this picture postmortem, obviously)
I think that is, perhaps, what our fear of bugs and snakes is all about – the speed. We don’t like things that are fast. Perhaps that’s an evolutionary trigger. Snakes are quick. Spiders are quick. Roaches are quick. Birds are quick (I know several people who are afraid of birds). Maybe when people admit they don’t like “creepy crawlies,” they’re actually talking about the fact that bugs are fast movers, and that’s unnerving to our animal brains.
Maybe that’s why I’ve never met anyone who is afraid of turtles.