Thursday, December 24, 2009

I come recommended by 4 out of 5...

... I'm a factor in the whole plan.

But seriously: I may be the most hardcore mosquito assassin you know. (Or "know," as it were.)

I grew in Florida and I've lived the past 6+ years in Taiwan. Mosquitoes have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. Over the years, especially in the last five or so, I honed my mosquito killing skills to unparalleled levels. I don't mean to boast, but, well, let's just say I put the QUIT in mosquito... or the "O!" in it, if that sounds more threatening.

So now I'm going to do you a favor. I'm going to share--at no charge!--my elite mosquitocidal techniques with you. (Now please go to Paypal to handle your no-charge fee in large unmarked bills.)

1st Technique: Wet hands.

It speaks for itself, but just in case the n00bs among you are still unwise to the ways of mosquitoes, let me break it down. Most people think it's hard to catch mosquitoes with their hands. And sometimes it is. But many times what happens is that we do catch them, but when we open our palms to inspect the carnage, the little devils fly away before we notice and we think we failed to grab them. Nope. We failed to make them stick. Hence: wet hands. Even a tangential strike will sometimes adhere them, by the wings, to your skin, and then it's killin' (or pluckin'?) time. Adding a little soap to the skin helps too.

2nd Technique: Fabric missiles.

The principle here is to foil the mosquitoes' extremely well evolved escape flight mechanism. You've probably seen it a hundred times. There--right there!--on the wall, or on the ceiling, or on the side of a dresser, is a juicy little devil throbbing with your own blood inside it. Your reflex is to palm-smash it, but this is a bad idea for two reasons. First, if you do squish it, you've got a blob of blood and legs on the wall/furniture. Housekeeping Fail! Second, our reflex is to try to "net" the mosquito with the large surface of our palms, so we swap at it more or less head on. But mosquitoes escape such attacks by flying, incredibly quickly, laterally. By the time our hand is about to hit them, they're already halfway out from under our palms (usually away from the trunk of your body). We usually don't even see their flight path because we're so intent on a head-on strike that we "tunnel vision" and miss the lateral motion. So, if you want to try to kill a mosquito on a flat surface with your hand--which is not a technique I endorse--, I strongly recommend a lateral swiping motion (akin to Mr. Miyagi's famous "wax on, wax off" technique, but rougher and more diagonally downward).

Palm-kills are possible (and I admit they are very gratifying for the domestic hunter), but better by far is a fabric missile. When you see a mosquito on the wall or etc., grab a t-shirt or a towel--something not too light--, ball it up, and then shoot it at the little devil in a two-handed basketball pass. Why is this a solid technique? For one thing, the towel/shirt can move faster than your hand (or at least, faster without the pain of smacking a wall at full force). Second, the towel/shirt naturally expands in flight and thereby "nets" the mosquito's lateral escape as it encroaches. Now, keep in mind, this technique does often but not always kill the mosquito, so you need to "follow your kill." There's nothing more aggravating than thinking you killed a mosquito, only to see it recuperate a few minutes later and fly away to pester you again. On the plus side, though, a confirmed kill with a fabric missile won't make the critter burst and smear like a conventional palm strike. Good housekeeping FTW!

3rd technique: Fire and ice.

I bought a "non-toxic" bug spray a few weeks ago, which turned out to be about as good a purchase as "non-drying paint." I have sprayed mosquitoes point blank, numerous times, with the stuff, but it just makes them fly away and land somewhere else, stronger and meaner, for all I know. So one day I was curious to see if the non-toxic stuff was at least dangerous in another satisfyingly virile way. I sparked my lighter and sprayed the flame--Shazam! Blowtorch in the hand! Since then, I have roasted countless mosquitoes.

This technique is great for many reasons, though it has one or two flaws, which I will discuss presently. First, the blowtorch is a great method, since, like the fabric missile, the flame moves faster and farther than your hand. Second, even if it doesn't kill a mosquito in one shot, the mere proximity to such a relativity huge flame will crisp its legs and wings, making it easier to kill on the next round. (My favorite result along these lines is seeing them come out of the fireball and slowly spiral down like a damaged plane. Follow your kill!) Third, torching mosquitoes is hella fun (Plus, it heats up a cold room in a pinch.)

An alternative technique, which I admit I have not tried yet, but which I believe is theoretically flawless, is the "icicle gun." Turning any pressurized can upside down and spraying it will emit a blast of extremely cold mist. The fluid inside is pressurized gas, so it is very cold--inversely to the way hotter liquid disperses as gas. I once burned a dear friend's leg with this technique--accidentally!--so I know it is harmful to carbon-based life.

Drawbacks to the fire-and-ice method? For one thing, maybe you won't like singeing the hair on your fingers now and then. Second, I've found that tilting the can upwards so as to kill a mosquito overhead somehow separates the flammable element from the emitted spray, which just kills the flame and scares off the mosquito. Also, the icicle gun will allow subzero liquid to trickle onto your finger, so be careful.

Never knew I was such a sick geek, huh? I am full of surprises, I guess. Now, off you go, to the killing fields! All I ask in return is that you report back with your tales of mosquitocidal success!

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