Least Favorite Things

It’s been a cool summer here in eastern France, and the last week in particular has been autumnal. This might explain why I’m finding very large spiders in the house – they usually seek refuge  once September is fully underway. Given the temperatures, I can understand why they’re confused. It doesn’t mean I’m happy to see them. I may not be a true arachnophobe, but spiders the size of my palm are not the kind of feral visitors I welcome.

That said, I do my best to capture the beasties and release them outside, preferably far enough from the house that they won’t just stroll right back inside.

Mosquitoes are another case altogether.

A mosquito wing. I don't care how pretty it might be, or how graceful the lazy bobbing flight of the insect might be, I still don't like them.  Photo: Laurie Knight
A mosquito wing.
I don’t care how pretty it might be, or how graceful the lazy bobbing flight of the insect might be, I still don’t like them.
Photo: Laurie Knight

My family has always been amused by my single-minded focus on killing any mosquito that gets in the house. For me, this little insect is one of the few earthly creatures I would happily never see again. Even though I’m one of the fortunate types who seems to repel them, as far as I’m concerned, mosquitoes are just finely honed carriers for all manner of disease.

Our trip to Vietnam marked the first time I took every precaution against mosquitoes. A supposed plant remedy taken two days before departure, long trousers and shirt sleeves at all times, insect repellent – in short, all available tools. And look, none of us got a single bite, except on the last night in Saigon, when we let down our guard.

Mosquitoes have been more dangerous to humans than any other animal besides humans themselves. The increase in international travel, as well as changing temperatures and climate, mean that mosquito-borne disease is becoming more common in areas previously spared.

Technically, the mosquitoes aren’t the problem; they just carry diseases like malaria, dengue fever or encephalitis (although not, as some people fear, HIV). Still, many of the 3500 species of mosquito are able to carry some kind of disease. A look at the chart below will show that my dreaded large house spiders don’t even make the list of truly dangerous critters.

Source: GatesNotes
Source: GatesNotes

I missed World Mosquito Day, which was on August 20. What does one do to celebrate the day dedicated to mosquitoes? Usually animal-related awareness days are intended to save that particular animal – this day is different. This day is to raise awareness on how to avoid, eradicate and diminish mosquitoes and the powerful diseases they spread.

Which is what I’ve been supporting in my own small way for my entire life.