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Essay: Mosquito season — when we slap ourselves silly

An Aedes canadensis mosquito.

An Aedes canadensis mosquito. Credit: Getty Images / iStock / doug4537

They’re coming, Long Island.

You know the signs. The days are long, and we stowed snowblowers and rock salt months ago. Landscapers are out in force and lawns are green again.

But as we enjoy the beautiful Long Island weather, the invasion is underway — the mosquito invasion.

While many people have an underlying fear of bees, spiders or other scary-looking insects, like cave crickets, most look at mosquitoes as more of a nuisance, yet they may carry life-threatening diseases, like the West Nile Virus.

Don’t get me wrong, surviving winter (even as mild as the year’s was) and making it to spring is something I look forward to more than anything. But as we organize summer picnics and backyard barbecues, mosquitoes are hosting their own get-togethers — and we’re on the menu.

Nothing ruins a perfectly beautiful summer evening like the rhythmic slapping of your guests as they defend their arms and legs. Relentless in their pursuit, mosquitoes act like mini-vampires, leaving their marks anywhere they find exposed skin.

There is just no avoiding them on Long Island. We’ve tried to coexist with them for centuries, but we’ve got what female mosquitoes need — blood. The protein found in blood helps their eggs develop. Although humans possess the mosquitoes’ blood of choice, as it turns out, I’m their favorite flavor. How is it possible that when friends and family sit next to me, I’m the one who gets bitten? Just as some people prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla or strawberry, Long Island mosquitoes prefer the taste of me.

Even after I’ve followed experts’ advice by avoiding them early in the morning or at dusk, or by planting the flora they hate, like peppermint or lavender, they still seek me out 24/7. Once, I even got a mosquito bite in December. That doesn’t seem fair. I’ve tried sprays, lotions, torches and candles. I could bathe in citronella and still get bit. I read that a single female mosquito drinks up to three times its weight in blood — but why does it have to be mine?

Maybe I’ve gone about this the wrong way? Unless you live under a dome, trying to fight them with chemical weapons or electric zappers seems like a waste of time. Unlike “Star Trek,” we haven’t perfected a deflector shield to protect our backyards.

This being the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, maybe I could rent an astronaut suit for all outdoor activities. For sure, I’d expect to be ridiculed, but at least I wouldn’t mindlessly be slapping at my exposed skin while drinking a cold beer. That is, if I could figure out how to drink a cold beer through my helmet.

  Reader Paul DiSclafini lives in Massapequa.