This country is bugging me

19 06 2011

Mosquitoes are amazing creatures. No really, they fascinate me. Here is an insect that is perfectly adapted for what it does. Both male and female mosquitoes live on nectar, but in the case of the female, she needs the extra protein and nutrients in blood to produce eggs. Even this I find fascinating. No, I haven’t developed a soft spot for vampires. For that I wear a garlic necklace to bed each night. This keeps the vampires away — I know because I have yet to be bitten by one.

But, garlic doesn’t work against mosquitoes, and this country has its share of them. And, so did our house.

Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide and octenol we and other animals produce. They also have a preference for victims, which explains the observation made by my well-bitten daughter that “they like me more than you!” Yes, sweetie, you are mosquito bait because you probably make more octenol than me or your mother. But, don’t feel too badly, we also are well-bitten. Each morning we would awaken with new itchy little red welts, and then suffer through the day.

While scouring store shelves for a solution to keep the mosquitoes out of our sleeping chambers I came across this curious product. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, only in Israel would you find an anti-mosquito cream called: STOP TUSH.

I’m not making this up. The photo on the left is for real.

Some explaining. The Hebrew word for mosquito is yatush. With all due apologies to Hebraicists, here is my half-baked theory for this word’s origins. It is onomatopoeic, imitating the sound the ancient Israelites made when one of these bugs bit into their desert wandering derrieres. “Ya TUSH! Another one got me!”

I did not buy Stop Tush. With such a name, I just don’t see myself putting this stuff on my skin.

So, we sought and found another solution: chemical warfare. We got a plug-in device that heats up and emits some kind of repellant. This works very well, but I can only imagine what nasty chemical concoction we are breathing in. I don’t like this at all, but I like mosquito bites even less. So, we are still searching for a non-toxic way of keeping these yaTUSHim away. If anybody has some good ideas please drop them in the suggestion box (i.e. hit the “reply” button.)

Then there is the common housefly. Here at Hannaton they probably spend much of their time at our refet (cow shed) and then visit our house looking for all sorts of treats they can’t find among the cow pies. The Hebrew word is zvoov, which really is onomatopoeic. They come in three different sizes: small, medium and large, and they bite! Adopting a zero tolerance policy we found a device that will bring out the inner sadist even in the most dedicated pacifist. It looks like a tennis racket, but the netting is made of metal charged by two batteries. Even as I type this, there is a miserable, no good, demonic, useless, dirty, ugly, filthy, despicable, contemptible, wicked, evil, vile, loathsome, hideous, repulsive zvoov buzzing around my head.

Wait for it… wait for it. BzzZAAAP! I love this thing!

Mosquitoes, flies, and spiders are nothing compared to what I met one warm evening in May. It was already past sunset when I stepped out my front door. As I turned around to lock the house, out of the corner of my eye I saw something that made me want to scream. In fact, I did scream! Crawling down the wall was a 4 inch scorpion moving pretty fast toward my be-sandalled open-toed feet. Have you heard about the fight or flight reflex? Trust me, its true. In my case, flight.

“Whaa?!?!” I screeched jumping backwards. Then, slightly more composed, I found the 6 inch scorpion curiously interesting in a morbid kind of way. So, I whipped out my iPhone, snapped a pic of this 8 inch scorpion for posterity, and not wanting a 10 inch scorpion near my house, let alone in it, the fight instinct took over with one swift kick that dispatched the 12 inch scorpion to the next world with my aforementioned open-toed sandal. The mixture of “crunch” and “splat” still gives me the willies.

So, that’s the report from Hannaton today. I gotta go now, there’s another fly zvooving around me. Tennis anyone?

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2 responses

26 06 2011
Allan Gale

Yitzchak,
It was great meeting you in Haifa earlier this month. I hope we can keep in touch. Regarding mosquitoes, I’ve hated them from birth. I grew up in Minnesota, and actually sought out a summer job during my college years to work for the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District. I thoroughly enjoyed the work those two summers. When I arrived to kibbutz ulpan in 1975, I found the mosquitoes quicker than the Minnesota variety, more like flies and so harder to catch. They find me tasty, so in Israel and here in Detroit I am a big user of repellent. –Allan Gale

20 06 2011
Jen Maidenberg

Yes, this is a huge adjustment for us too. Though I must say, when we lived in NJ, we could not sit and enjoy our backyard in the summer past three in the afternoon because we would be attacked by mosquitoes. Maybe because of the downwind we get here in the afternoon, I don’t feel the mosquitoes so badly in the afternoon and enjoy the dusk of summer more.

Two you didn’t mention…maybe because Tamar is not in Gan: lice. A kibbutz epidemic in the summer. And ants: they come in every shape and size too.

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