I’m itching to tell you about my itching.  I’ve been plagued by insect bites my whole life.  My first inkling of a problem was when I realized that I was getting bitten and scratching way more than my sister.

I was outside playing after dinner on a summer night when I was three.  I recall my parents looking at me and panicking.  I didn’t know what was going on, but I remember being whisked into the car and taken to an emergency room.  As we passed a mirror, I remember thinking, “Who’s that?”  One side of my face was blown up to three times its size.

Over the years I’ve tried to protect myself from bites, to no avail; and now at this later stage of my life, I sometimes find it easier to stay indoors than to risk the bites and days of itching.

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Ken’s family loves having barbeques and they try to cater to my problem by having their entire yard sprayed the day before.  Although I really do appreciate the effort, those flies, gnats and mosquitoes still find me.  Once they purchased a package of towelettes saturated in DEET.  I was happy to try them, as everyone had moved their chairs to the lawn and were taking a fun trip down memory lane.  I wanted to stay with the crowd, so I unfolded a towelette and wiped it on my neck, arms, feet and ankles.  Things were going pretty well for a while until I began getting lightheaded and nauseous.

 Thank goodness Ken realized it was the DEET and began wiping it off me with a wet towel.  That night when we returned home, I counted twenty-nine bites.  The scratching was non-stop, and Ken seriously thought about sleeping in another room until things “calmed down.”

I’ve tried sprays and lotions and have even clipped on an ultrasonic zapper, all to no avail.  In fact, I think I heard the little buggers giggling as they glided in for a smooth landing on my arm.
I give up!  They have won!  I concede that the insects are much smarter than I am; but, I won’t “go gentle into that good night.”  I’ve done some research and found that some people produce more of certain chemicals in their skin and some of those chemicals attract mosquitoes.  Blood type also factors into the equation.

And so, to help minimize mosquito and other insect bites, it may be helpful to understand what lures them:
• Wearing dark colors or red
• Type O blood.  It is twice as attractive to mosquitoes as A or B
• Exhaling. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and can sense it up to 160’ away.
• Sweating
• Pregnancy.  Pregnant women exhale more and their skin is warmer than normal, which is attractive to mosquitoes.
• Drinking beer.  Mosquitoes are drawn to skin that excretes beer through sweat
• Perfume – heavily scented fruity or floral perfumes are a magnet for mosquitoes.

Although we may now be a bit more educated on the subject, I don’t really think it will help.  They are stealth, weightless and by the time you feel an insect on your skin, the damage has already been done.  So, on the next hot, steamy day when the insects are flying about, if you have nothing better to do, zip me an email, dial the phone or send a message via carrier pigeon to say hi. I’ll definitely be home!

joannfrancella@aol.com