James Lileks
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If ever I'm having blood extracted and the medical tech can't find a good vein, I will draw on my long experience as a Minnesotan and tell her the most attractive location of blood on my body. My ankles.

At least according to mosquitoes.

You could be wearing no more than a Speedo and a smile and they would feast on your ankles. And ankle welts itch more than welts in any other location, too. After recent rainstorms brought more skeeters, I found myself dealing with innumerable (OK, two) ankle bites. What to do?

First choice: Calamine lotion. Put some on. It did nothing. Then I looked at the bottle. I'd grabbed the generic Pepto-Bismol. Well, that explained why the upset stomach I had last week didn't go away after two glugs of the pink stuff. On the other hand, my small intestine didn't itch.

Second choice: Slather on the hydrocortisone. The tube says it's 1% hydrocortisone. Big market opportunity for someone to roll out 2% and corner the market. Anyway, that didn't work, either.

I'm off to a bad start on Mosquito Season.

The almost nonstop wet weather means there were standing pools of water, and mosquitoes can spontaneously generate in a discarded bottle cap if there are more than six H2O molecules present.

That means I have to get out all the anti-skeeter tools. Which are:

  • The bug spray you had as a kid, except the label now says something like "Now free of all the chemicals that worked really well in the 1960s."

Back then, the stuff was great. Mosquitoes got about 6 feet from you and fainted. Moms doused kids with that can the same way they blasted their coiffures with Aqua Net on anniversary-dinner night.

  • Anything with citronella, which sounds like a character in an old Disney movie. A poor scullery maid whose fairy godmother turns her into a citrus fruit, or a compact French automobile. If you're out of citronella candles, you can just spray yourself with Lemon Pledge. You'll still get bit, but you'll have a nice shine.
  • One of those mosquito lamp things. We bought one last year that was supposed to attract mosquitoes and trap them in a plastic dungeon. Didn't work. When we opened it up after a few weeks, it was full of moths. I have nothing against moths. I know, I know, they used to get into houses and eat your woolens, and you'd have to put mothballs in the closet or stake out a sheep in the backyard. But I felt bad to have enticed so many moths to senseless deaths.
  • Bats. Bats are really the only thing that works. But they're never around when you need them. The attic is sealed off to keep out stupid squirrels, but this also means I have no dependable bat flock to deploy after dark and eat the skeeters. In the old days you could just ring the local bat monger, and he'd show up at dusk, open the cages and say "Fly, my beauties, fly that we may feast!" in a vague Middle-European accent. I checked Angi and Yelp. Seems like no one offers that service anymore.

In a few years we will have nocturnal drones that eliminate mosquitoes with micrometer laser beams. Until then, it's ankle-scratching time.

The itch, by the way, comes from skeeter spit. You'd think you could suck it out like snake venom. Maybe you can and maybe that's why they attack the ankles: The only people who could reach their ankles are yoga instructors.