I knew we were in trouble when the cat suddenly became airborne – ascending at least 20 metres off the ground – and headed east.
I was tooling along on the yard tractor Saturday evening when it happened. I heard it first, then glanced up and saw a cloud of the little blood suckers as thick as a Motivo’s espresso (and I kid you not) hovering overhead.
Throttling up the John Deere 304, I booted it for the house, passing the cat on the way.
“We almost put out 33-per-cent more helicopter time . . . and have blown every record for the amount of larvicide put out,” mosquito control contractor Cheryl Phippen said in a Daily News story last Friday.
“Maybe it worked. I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Sorry to mess up your day, Cheryl, but it’s not looking good.
Though I often complain about the North Thompson, it’s a great river in many ways. Mosquito season is not one of them.
This year, as everyone knows, is far worse than usual. The river has crested and fallen not once but several times, and only now is starting to drop, slowly. It will take time for the thousands of prime mosquito-breeding pools to dry up.
Meanwhile, anybody within a mile of the water is raw meat for the mozzies. There are too many of them, and too few of us. They’re so desperate for blood they don’t even bother with sneak attacks; they begin their fiendish zzzzz at the first scent and hone in on any skin cell that isn’t drenched in DEET.
If they can’t find that, they’ll drill through your clothes. I ventured out the other night in a snowsuit and they were undeterred. I felt like King Kong on the Empire State Building fending off the airforce.
Alright, I exaggerate, but Cheryl Phippen’s words played in my mind like a scratchy phonograph record as I haplessly swiped away at the attackers with my ballcap.
“We’re going to hold our breath for another week,” she’d said. Any widespread assault would take place in about 10 days, she’d said.
Tell that to the dog, who, out for his evening constitutional, instead curls himself into a ball and covers his tender nose with his paws in a fruitless attempt to avoid the onslaught.
Tell it to the horses — without benefit of a $60 jug of insect repellant, they’d soon become tired of running in circles trying to escape.
I’m given to understand that stores are doing landmark business in repellant for humans, as well. Merchants carry everything from candles to spray cans to little gizmos that attach to your belt, but none of it can withstand mosquitos as big as condors and as nasty as killer bees.
Provincial funding cutbacks have reduced the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s mosquito-control program. Only a politician would see logic in cutting a program that was supposed to stop the progress of West Nile disease – at exactly the time West Nile disease is almost on our doorstep.
So, while the mosquito contractors are doing their best by amping up their spot treatment, they lack the guns to get the job done.
Instead of stepping up and filling the funding gap by resetting its own budget priorities, the regional district has shrugged.
Meanwhile, the cat and the dog have been staying inside.