The Creepy Crawler Capital of the World?
Columnist Amber Woods talks about two of Havre de Grace's most annoying pests.
There aren't many things I dislike about living here.
But the countless nights I return home and blindly navigate through layers of spider webs, or the summer afternoons I spend scratching welts left by mosquitos, are a few.
The former turns me into a convulsing lunatic.
After walking through a web, my first reaction is to quickly run my hands over my face and arms over and over while simultaneously sticking out my tongue (I don't know why I do that last part).
But even after that, I'm totally freaked out by the thought that whoever created that web may have been chilling on it when I ransacked his labors, and maybe now he's mad and also on my body somewhere.
That thought usually sends me into the convulsion part. I jump around and pull at all my clothes to make sure there's no chance of a freeloader before I get into the house, sometimes still dancing around.
And I'm betting if you too live in Havre de Grace, you know what I'm talking about when it comes to the creepy crawlers and blood suckers.
I've been known to joke with house guests and friends by telling them that the spider is actually our city's mascot.
It always seems there's an absurd amount of the multi-legged creepers hanging around.
Though I live in a different part of the city this year than last, I've still experienced an alarmingly high number of spider sightings.
This weekend a girlfriend of mine nearly jumped out of her skin when a yellow spider came spindling down from the underneath my front porch covering and landed on her shoulder like she owed him something.
After all the screaming and shouting and flailing around stopped, we both stood frozen for a few minutes looking around for that dude's friends or relatives. I figured if there was one hanging around, there was sure to be a few more.
And as I sit here and type this, I'm randomly stopping to scratch one of more than 30 mosquito bites I have on my arms and legs (I stopped counting when I got to 31).
All it took was a few afternoon walks (even after I hosed down with bug spray) and a stroll home from a local restaurant with friends and I'm nearly covered from head to toe in welts from those little suckers.
Maybe I should be telling people that the mosquito is our mascot?
Out of curiosity, I did a little searching to see if anyone claims the cold-blooded insect, and according to Rutgers, New Jersey is the "Mosquito State" with more than 150 different species.
Maybe it's just a lapse in my memory, but I don't recall so many blood suckers around my house last year.
Since I'm such a mosquito magnet, I've been thinking about why some of us are more appealing to the insects than others (example: one of my friends didn't have a single bite and she was outside the same amount of time as me).
What's the deal? What is their "type" and how can I deflect them in the future?
If you're a hypochondriac like me, then you're probably already familiar with webmd.com, where maybe you also diagnose yourself with something on a regular basis because you coughed twice in a row or spotted a freckle you've never seen before, or you notice some other traumatic symptom that sends you into panic mode.
If so, you'll love this information: According to webmd, scientists claim genetics account for 85 percent of people's susceptibility to being bitten by mosquitos. Thanks, Mom.
Apparently mosquitos are also more drawn to people who produce excess amounts of uric acid, which can trigger the insect's sense of smell and may drive them to certain people.
People who dress in dark clothes are better seen by mosquitos and their movement may attract the bugs, according to MSNBC's Bodyodd Blog. The blog also reports those with a higher metabolic rate produce more carbon dioxide, and that attracts the little suckers too.
It's worth noting that pregnant women produce more carbon dioxide than non-pregnant women.
Webmd reports mosquitos can smell their next meal from distances up to 50 meters, which means you can't even "stay away" from places they may be hanging out, like swamps. I wonder if the "Swamp People" get more than 30 bites in a single weekend?
Weirdly enough, they don't bite us for food. It seems it's only the female insects that bite us, and that's because they require blood to develop fertile eggs.
All kidding aside, mosquito bites can be very dangerous. News reports say they cause millions of cases of disease each year, including malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever, yellow fever and other illnesses.
According to the BodyOdd blog, it's just folklore that mosquitos are more attracted to people who eat bananas and that taking vitamin B-12 actually repels the insects. Sorry to all of you who have been popping those like candy.
And after some pretty intense research I believe I have found the main reason they love me (and maybe you?) more than others.
Apparently mosquitos are more attracted to people after they've been drinking beer (the people, not the mosquitos).
Not to purposefully rain on your parade, but looks like if you want to reduce your chances of turning into a human pin cushion, you may have to move that happy hour indoors.