Ode to the mosquito

Wednesday Ramblings
Stabroek News
October 18, 2000

Surely the mosquito is Guyana's national insect. Unlike the National bird the Canje Pheasant with its somewhat deranged hairstyle, the mosquito is something all citizens have come to know and begrudgingly accept as part of the culture.

What is not so well known are the many varieties of the mosquito species, a supremely devious and at the same time incredibly stupid creature.

The domesticated or "home" mosquito to its credit can find a single 2cm square hole in a 4 m square mosquito net in pitch darkness and signal its whole family of net paratroopers to follow after. Unfortunately once inside it gorges on blood until it becomes hopelessly incapacitated. It then barely holds on to the side of the net until daylight when some little child slaps it into a bloody mess. Despite their short lives these mosquitoes are considered far more courageous than the species that rely on a human elbow or foot resting against the net. All of the home mosquitoes exhibit an extreme loyalty to the human occupants and unknown to many scientists the domesticated mosquito will pick up sticks and move with family in tow should its human benefactor decide to change house. This species is made up of many subspecies which include the "bite your feet till you go to bed" species, "attack the housewife when she is making pepper sauce" species and the "I live in your car and I will bite you just as you are dangerously overtaking a truck" species.

The true royalty of mosquitodom is the designer mosquito. We are talking four star, top of the line insects that wear miniature Rolexes and inhabit the Pegasus poolside feeding on foreign blood. They have very particular tastes with some going for 50 plus business executives, and others after rich slightly overweight holiday goers. Whatever their preferences they like to leave large nasty red blotches, their equivalent of love bites which swell and itch horribly often causing tourists to make vows of never setting foot in the country again. Unfortunately they also run the risk of succumbing to powerful insecticides brought in by a vindictive management. They usually spend the summer months on the French Riviera before sneaking home in a Louis Vuitton suitcase.

Not far from the hotel are the Seawall species - many, many rungs down the ladder of social standing. A rowdy bunch that care little for niceties, they employ a system of "suck and rob" and can strike at the most inopportune time and in the most unfortunate anatomical areas. Humans are often forced to grit their teeth and bear these machinations or risk breaking the romantic spell.

A specialized breed is the diplomatic mosquito which gate crashes outdoor cocktail parties causing members of the normally so graceful social set to swat at their ankles and mutter dark curses about the organisers. These also try their best to start diplomatic rows. A celebrated case was the occasion of a reception at the Indian High Commission when a particulary shrewd mosquito well read in Guyana's border problems landed on the right temple of the oblivious Venezuelan Ambassador just as he was munching into a smoked salmon canape. Our foreign minister at the time slightly clumsy in the world of protocol, took his oversized palm and deposited a hefty slap to the ambassador's head unforgiveably missing the mosquito in the process. This set off a furore of diplomatic activity. The Suriname Ambassador seeing this as a threat to the disputed territory of his forearm kicked the said minister in his New River Triangle. The UN Good Officer conveniently attending the reception managed to cool down the aggrieved parties with two cans of Baygon.

The heavily bandaged Foreign Minister's innocent mistake was lambasted in a Sunday Stabroek editorial for showing a lack of expertise in the area of mosquito control. The editorial patiently explained that instead of this unilateral and ultimately futile slap a GDF fact finding mission should have been instructed to issue a report and an official letter of protest handed over to the mosquito community. But the minister angrily responded that by the time the GDF report would have reached his desk the mosquito's great grandchildren would be attending the Foreign Service Institute.

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