Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Feeling sorry for myself

Yesterday afternoon I went outside for about 45 minutes to do some yard work. I don't know why, but I was under the impression that it was still too early in the day, and also in the year, for mosquitoes to be much of a concern, so I neglected to use buy spray. Wow, that was a mistake! By bedtime last night the full extent of my stupidity was revealed as I could count twenty huge, incredibly itchy mosquito bites. Ben said I should take pictures, but I didn't want to put anyone through that so instead I have created a bite diagram. When you include the two old ones on one side, and all the new ones on the other, it's not a pretty picture.

According to Wikipedia, female mosquitoes are the ones that bite, and require the blood to nourish the her unborn mosquito eggs. Due to my generous donation I think I may have just singlehandedly tripled the Minnesota mosquito population for this year. 

There have been many studies done to try to figure out why some people are so much more attractive to mosquitoes (and their equally evil Scottish cousin, the Midge). My brother Robert and my dad actually took part in one such study a couple of years ago, as Robert is very rarely bitten by insects.

James Logan, a research student at the Rothamsted Research in Herfordshire and Professor Jenny Mordue of the University of Aberdeen, found that "unattractive" individuals give off different chemical signals compared with "attractive" individuals. They tested the behavioural reaction of yellow fever mosquitoes to the odour of volunteers.

According to the January 2005 BBSRC Business, in one experiment, the mosquitoes were placed into a y-shaped tube and given the choice of moving upwind down one of two branches. The air flowing down one branch was laced with odour from the volunteer's hands. The other was without this odour. Their results suggest that differential attractiveness is due to compounds in unattractive individuals that switch off attraction either by acting as repellents or by masking the attractant components of human odour.

This theory differs from that of other research groups who have suggested that unattractive individuals lack the attractive components. The researchers are now testing these theories further using foil sleeping bags to collect whole body odours from volunteers.

They took part in the 'foil sleeping bag' study. I'm not sure what the final finding was, but if it was that he gives off an odour so noxious that it repells even mosquitoes, well, I could have told them that years ago... 

Anyway, as if the joy of 20 mosquito bites wasn't enough, I also have a bladder infection and feel terrible. The doctor told me to drink fluids, and get lots of rest, but apparently Fiona disagrees with her medical opinion and has not been remotely cooperating with the 'resting'plan. 

Oh well. On a lighter note, it's definitely warm enough for summer clothes now, so here are a few gratuitous pictures of Fiona looking really adorable. And if you see a mosquito having trouble flying due to the fact that it has swelled to she size of a small dog from consuming 1/3 of my blood, please approach it with caution, then take it out with a tennis raquet or something. Thanks.

Hugging her BFF Brodie

Looking cute!


Mrs Chronic-Shock said...

I can sympathize with you when it comes to mosquitoes. I end up covered in bites every year, even with bug spray! We must be the "attractive" ones ;)

Mum said...

Poor Lou! I'm sorry you are not feeling so well. Get well soon!

Tanya Cothran said...

Bummer! Mosquitoes and bladder infections do not sound fun at all! You probably deserve some tea and cake or a trip to Outback for several pounds of cheese. Feel better soon - xoxo Tanya