Polish up that bug dance

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel by Steve Estes

In the latest tug-o-war on Big Pine Key between humans and other species (not that some humans don’t seem to be part of another species), I’m concerned that I will be one of the ultimate losers.

This time of year we are routinely inundated with mosquitoes. In the 10 years we have lived out in the middle of the National Key Deer Refuge, we have battled our share of mosquitoes. The problem is, of course, always worse in the summer time, which, naturally, coincides with our rainy season.

And this year, the problem seems to be the worst it’s been in that decade.

We found out recently that our recent problems with the pesky, biters stems from another flying critter, albeit a benign one.

It seems as though a couple of rare butterflies have decided that the densely wooded area around our house is the perfect place to homestead.

And it seems as though their proclivity to homestead the densely wooded area around our house makes it easier for those pesky mosquitoes to homestead in our yard.

The adult-mosquito-killing spray that is used here apparently isn’t good for the butterflies either. So to ensure that the butterfly, which we’re told is about to be listed as an endangered species, can survive into the foreseeable future, we will do without mosquito fogging for the next few weeks.

We don’t get a lot of spraying anyway out where we are because of our proximity to other endangered species habitat, now we have to live with probably no spraying so the butterfly can live in relative comfort.

This means I will have to work on my mosquito dance.

There is a fine art to the mosquito dance. And of course, this comes from a man who has two left feet, attached to two left feet. My best dancing is done when trying to handle mosquitoes. Any other reason to dance is strictly nightmarish for any unfortunate onlookers.

To successfully complete a mosquito dance, one must be prepared to never stop moving some part of the body. For the young, this is probably not an issue, although concentration may be another issue. For those of us who are a little older, it becomes a little more difficult to sustain constant motion, so we must instead develop our own dance style.

My particular favorite is the sweep motion.

From the back, it might look as though you’re hugging yourself, but essentially you sweep your left hand over the right side and your right hand over the left side, and then stick out the booty to shake off the bugs settling on your back side. For those of us with a little less coordination that has developed over the years, this seems to be a semi-effective way to thwart mosquito attacks in the short term.

If you’re outside for longer periods, then you need to develop something a little more aggressive, such as the “pat-down-whack.”

In this move, you pat various parts of the body where mosquitoes like to establish a landing zone, and when you find an actual mosquito in that area, you whack yourself with the eventual outcome being—we hope—a dead mosquito.

This particular move should come with some warning labels. First, don’t whack anywhere near the frontal genitalia for guys. The moments you spend bent over in pain will allow the pesky biters to set up shop in a preferred landing zone and raise numerous welts before your tear-filled eyes can recover enough to begin the process anew.

Also, make sure your hands are free of hard objects. Employing the “pat-down-whack” method of mosquito control with such things as say, a cellphone, in your hands, can do nearly irreparable damage to the soft parts of the body. And this move is particularly dangerous if you have just used your favorite claw hammer to hang the wife’s mermaid art on the outside wall.

Take it from the voice of experience, it doesn’t matter if you use the hammer side or the claw side: they both hurt equally. It’s simply that one side can actually leave gaping holes in the exterior skin, the other merely hard-to-explain bruises.

Also, one must ensure that the hands aren’t carrying any sharp objects. Bleed out may occur from puncture wounds.

Of course, the “pat-down-whack” method only works on the areas one can reach, leaving the middle of the back, which I’m told is a particularly tasty landing zone for mosquitoes, open for assault.

So I have developed what I like to call the bear-itch move to handle that particular area. It’s simple really. Back up against the nearest concrete pylon or the nearest corner of the house and sway back and forth. Watch for splinters.

The most fun, however, is keeping mosquitoes off the other people around you.

This is the one time when you can get away with swatting people you don’t like. The excuse “Sorry, swatting a mosquito,” generally gets you out of a black eye—or worse—after you’ve cold cocked someone who you really don’t care much for.

And guys, you can still get slapped for the surreptitious buttocks shot on members of the opposite sex.

Just saying.

Of course, if it’s a really bad day for bugs, you can perform the rapid-fire swatting technique, and maybe in that one you can get away with a couple of surreptitious buttocks shots.

I don’t recommend trying, but hey, we each have our own code.

Knowing that spraying from mosquito control is probably not in our future, I have been forced to purchase my own fogger, and after 20 minutes of creating a thick blanket of fog in the yard, the kids can use the pool for about a half hour, or play in the yard for about a half hour.

For me, it’s just easier to stay inside.

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