From sure serves with the electric bat to a deft aim of the hand, DIY ways to take down the mosquito

“Had this bat been available to blood thirsty dictators,” observed my son’s friend Ajay, as he wielded the electric mosquito bat to sizzling effect, “massacres might never have happened.”

“What a sense of power! And what sure-fire results!” he exulted as he hunted down mosquitoes with single-minded persistence. A singing mosquito here and a stinging mosquito there were dispatched to the nether world with equal ease and crackling success, leaving behind only an acrid smell. Enthusiastic forehand and backhand shots flowed from the bat as Ajay quickly de-mosquitoed the room.

Thiruvananthapuram, grappling with the huge garbage disposal problem for more than a year and a half now, has been asking, no, almost begging, for trouble and has finally achieved the dubious distinction of being right up there with maximum fever cases – dengue, its first cousin chikungunya, malaria and, of course, the vaguely named ‘viral fever’ that could mean just about anything.

They say big things often come in small packages. How true! The mosquito, tiny and insignificant as it looks, plays the key role in this big time drama of disease and sometimes death. It respects no season. Why should it, when congenial surroundings for its breeding are offered all round the year? It respects no place either. If you think you can outsmart the mosquito by living on the top floors of apartment buildings, you can think again. Sky is the limit as far as the mosquito is concerned and getting into the lift and travelling up with you is right up its street.

At regular intervals the dire effects of the mosquito population explosion hits headlines and prod the authorities to set in place attempts to control the problem. They do so by fogging infested areas and/or spraying of chemicals on drains, gutters and stagnant water that collects during rain. This doesn’t work too well; so you have to take over.

My vote for a truly safe option goes to the inimitable electric mosquito bat. So simple, so wonderful and so effective! And the light and sound effect produced as a mosquito gives up its ghost is so attractive it becomes an obsession. It is an invention that could well rank with the wheel for its far reaching impact. All right, I’m exaggerating, but I guess you get what I mean.

The market is flooded with bats bearing the familiar legend ‘Made in China’, but I’d vouch any day for the desi variety. Hats off to the bat manufactured in Coimbatore that has proved to be tough and durable. Besides, it is rechargeable, so you don’t have to get mad (and well bitten) when the batteries run low. Of course, ours being the land of power cuts, some planning ahead ought to help. What is this, settling comfortably on my hand as I type this article? You guess right, it’s a mosquito. I look at the bat and decide wisely against using it directly on my hand. For all the claims of its manufacturers that it is safe to touch it, I don’t wish to find out. Thwat! As I crush the unsuspecting insect expertly with my other hand, I remember I haven’t mentioned the method to kill mosquitoes that has stood the test of time – a neat, well aimed and firm swat with one’s own hand. Most satisfying.

(A weekly column by the city-based writer, academician and author of the Butterfingers series)

Varied solutions

The good old mosquito net is still the safest option when you go to bed, but people with claustrophobia or lovers of the fan at full blast hate it like their worst enemy. And anyway, what do you do during the day? You can’t go about wrapped in a diaphanous mosquito net, trendy as it might look. Getting mosquito shields fixed on windows and doors is sensible. Other options like mosquito repellents, coils, mats, sprays and repellent creams and lotions raise doubts in your mind. How can they be safe for you but dangerous for the mosquito, as touted by their ads? It stands to reason that if they are harmful for the mosquito, they ought to, in some way, be harmful for you. But, maybe by the time you find out, you would be too weak to protest.