Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I am a Stone Cold Killer

I'd make a lousy Jain.

The Jain, for those of you who haven't taken any recent survey courses on world religions, are the Gentlest Faith(tm). They are, by belief, utterly unwilling to harm any creature. A Jain will pay close attention to where they walk, so that they do not inadvertently step on a bug. Some Jain will not eat root vegetables, like potatoes, because consuming them does too much harm to the plant in question.Link
For them, every creature is possibly divine, and all creatures are due respect and honor. I'm not quite sure if they've managed to persuade their autoimmune systems of this, but I don't doubt they anguish over every bacteria that's destroyed.

I, on the other hand, take a deep and barbarous pleasure in my ongoing battle against my mortal enemies: the mosquitoes.

When we moved into our house ten years ago, our back yard was a marvelous woody place, the sort of place that little boys delight in. We soon discovered, however, that the yard did not belong to us. It belonged to the Aedes albopictus, the Asian Tigers. They are an invasive species, which swept into our corner of Virginny about a quarter century ago. Fierce, hungry, strong fliers, they pretty much guarantee that you'll be covered in itchy welts as soon as summer arrives.

And ooh, I hates 'em. I've tried all manner of weapons. Six years ago, I bought a massively overpriced propane-powered mosquito trap, which managed to catch about two mosquitoes a day. Once you factored in the cost of propane, that priced out to, oh, maybe a buck a mosquito. Shoulda just paid my boys a bounty. It'd have been more effective. I thought about seeing if I could find a surplus M65 Nuclear Rifle, which would certainly have done the trick. But even in Virginia, those can be hard to come by. Plus, they aren't so great for property values. Since that effort failed, I've been on the defensive. I've cleared out gutters compulsively. I've lit citronella candles. I've slathered on the DEET. The yard still belongs to them.

Today, though, I'm trying a new tactic. Give them what they think they want. I've got an old sandbox in the back which has become a small pond of rather organically fragrant water. It's shaded and still, the sort of habitat that would look just about perfect to mosquito mamas. Rather than dump it out this year, I've left it...but with a little extra. That tempting stagnant water is now laced with an organic larvicide, a bacteria that is both targeted at and lethal to the little larval squigglers.

I'm creating, in essence, a Nursery of Death for my bloodsucking friends. They'll follow the clear trail of water vapor evaporating from the largest source of water in the yard. They'll lay their eggs. Then. They. Will. Die. I find if I say this while sounding like Emperor Palpatine, it's doubly satisfying.

As a basically compassionate person, and one for whom compassion extends into realm of many non-human critters, I occasionally pause and wonder if this is perhaps a bit..ah...bloodthirsty of me. But then I remember the itchy little squirrels and bitten chipmunks. I remember the crows that used to inhabit our neighborhood, but were annihilated by the West Nile Virus borne by the aedes albopictus. And I think to myself...sometimes, a pest is just a pest. It isn't a vessel for the divine. It isn't a marvelous example of God's providence. It shouldn't make you want to sing..MwaaaaaHaaa Haaayaaah, or whatever it is they sing at the beginning of the Lion King.

It's something that bites you. Taking them down is just fine.