The first post I ever published on this blog, was about being bitten by mosquitoes, and I called it ‘Pesky Insects’. Just over a month later, I wrote another, this time about Horse Fly bites, and called it ‘Man Fly’. Since then , we have endured a hard winter, a long cold spring, and have only recently benefited from the good weather that you might expect, in a season called summer. As a result, there have been no further posts about being bothered by insects. Until now.
By way of background information, I should immediately state that I have always been attractive to biting insects, it is not something new, or only discovered since moving to Norfolk. Far from it, as I could be bitten just as easily in any country on the planet, and in the heart of large cities too. Get any group of people together, and ask them about biting insects. The chances are, that some will have never been bitten, and wonder what all the fuss is about. Others will have had the occasional bite, perhaps received when holidaying in tropical climes. The third group, of which I am a life member, will have been bitten wherever they were, from Central London, to the temples of Ancient Greece. We have learned the hard way, that no wonder cream exists, no burning coils will put off our aggressors, and no after bite remedies ever really work.
Is it in the blood? Some say that they are attracted by breath, others assert that skin types, and ‘sweet blood’ (whatever that is) attract the pests. One thing is well proven, those who get bitten continue to be bitten, in any location they find themselves, and on any part of the body. Whatever it is that is attracting these flying devils, it is undoubtedly irresistible to them, as they will continue to attack, even when faced with certain death as a result. These Kamikazes of the insect world simply cannot resist my blood, and will try anything to obtain it, at any cost to themselves.
In the past, suffering these bites has gone beyond normal endurance, or scratching a little, and experiencing minor discomfort. When holidaying on the Greek island of Crete, I received so many bites on the legs and feet when asleep, that one leg swelled alarmingly, and was painful enough to make me consider returning home a week early. I have had bites that have become infected, resulting in flu-like symptoms, and others, around the eyes, that have swollen so badly, I have been unable to see properly out of the affected eye. As for preventive remedies, and treatments, I have tried them all. I have burned enough coils to choke myself, and still been bitten. I have covered myself completely in foul-smelling potions, to no effect. Dabbing the infamous Greek ‘bite-pens’ on recent bites has caused intense pain (they are basically ammonia). I have even slept under comprehensive netting, sound and secure that I would be safe from bites, only to wake the next day, covered in them. More recently, I tried the ultrasonic devices that are supposed to frighten off the biters, but this high-tech solution was useless. There is no escape.
Moving to the countryside, I expected to be bitten. I made this prospect guaranteed, by buying a dog, that I had to walk in local fields, in long grass, and near a river. I might just have well have gone to the insect house at London Zoo, and slept naked in one of their display tanks. Knowing this will happen does not make it any easier, when it does. Local people advise me to wear long trousers, thick socks, and boots, as well as keeping my arms and neck covered, and wearing some sort of hat. I have waited so long for any decent weather, I just could not bring myself to cover up in this fashion. So, I go walking with Ollie, wearing my shorts, and a short-sleeved shirt, and have to face the consequences of my foolhardiness.
At the moment, the current bite count is seven on my left leg, plus a wasp sting, (very painful) and five on my right leg. They are raised, red, and very itchy, and I am pausing from my keyboard to scratch. The only relief is to eventually scratch the top off of the bite, and then the itching stops. This also leaves scars, making me resemble a medieval smallpox sufferer, at least below my waist!
So, when you next fancy a pleasant stroll in the countryside, watch out for those unwelcome companions.