To quote the Apostles in the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening?” In response, to quote the Entomologists, AKA Bug Exterminators, “The buzz is our old friend Psorophora ciliata, better known as the giant mosquitos from Hell.” To mangle the opening lines of the old Superman TV show, “Look up in the sky, it’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Super Mosquitos!
“A horde of strange visitors from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal mosquitoes. Psorophora ciliata, who changed the course of the mighty Cape Fear River, chewed through metal window screens with their bare proboscises, and who, disguised as zillions of mild-mannered dormant mosquito eggs lying in Florence floodwaters, fight a never-ending battle against DEET, for Insect Triumphalism and the Mosquito Way.”
Jerry Lewis’ closing song in the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon was right. Since HurricaneFlorence, when you go outside, you will never walk alone. You will be surrounded by a horde of bloodsucking beasts. I do not refer to politicians or lawyers.You have just crossed over into the Mosquito Zone. It is a dimension as vast as the Kavanaugh judicial hearings and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between fruitlessly swatting mosquitos and splattering blood- gorged skeeters on your arm. It lies between the pit of man’s insect fears and the summit of his ability to develop mosquito repellant. Your next stop, the Mosquito Zone.
North Carolina’s Florence mosquito infestation has kept us in the national news. Viewers in less flooded locations can’t get enough of the biblical plague of mosquitos that has descended upon our fair city. I encountered the full blast of the Mosquito Zone while carrying a chair into a shed in the back yard. The chair took two hands to tote, leaving my bald head defenseless against Mosquito Attack Force Zebra. It was a short walk through the yard. The mosquitos spotted me immediately, descending on my head armed with battle axes, pikes, hypodermic needles and C4 explosives. I was defenseless. Both hands were occupied, so I was an all-you-can-eat buffet for the skeeters at the Country Corral Bald Head Café. Hordes of Psorophora swooped in and began chewing. Bald heads are not particularly attractive. A bald head covered with mosquito welts looks worse than that slice of 2-week-old pizza that you forgot at the back of the refrigerator after the power went off during Florence.
Things are grim on the mosquito front. Reports from the usually unreliable sources have come in about citizens being raptured up into the sky by mosquitos to be eaten at leisure. FEMA is reported to have purchased 300,000 complete suits of armor from China for the citizens of Cumberland County. The armor serves the dual purposes of slowing mosquito bites and being so heavy that mosquitos cannot carry off voters. To sign up for the mosquito armor, dial BR 549 and wait until Hell freezes over – which, incidentally, is when the mosquitos will finally disappear – at the first frost in December.
The relentless mosquito attacks got me thinking about the Insect Fear genre of all the great 1950s science fiction horror movies that featured giant bugs eating people. A classic example is the movie “THEM!” starring giant radioactive ants under Los Angeles.
“The Incredible Shrinking Man” was a poor guy sprayed by a mosquito truck with bad chemicals that shrank him down to a nub. He ended up in a terrifying fight with a normal-sized spider that was the size of an elephant compared to his shrunken size. Our hero was armed only with a straight pin, which he used like a spear to fight the spider.
In “The Fly,” the hero gets into a trans- porter that zaps a human from place to place. Unfortunately, he doesn’t notice a fly has gotten into the transporter with him. He comes out with a fly head and a fly arm. Double plus ungood.
“The Day of the Triffids” has Hollywood being attacked by hordes of giant praying mantises. The “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” has space aliens who burrow into people and wrap their victims up in creepy cocoons until they take over their bodies.
In “The Thing from Another World,” James Arness, who ultimately became Marshal Matt Dillon, plays a giant, intelligent carrot from outer space who lands at the North Pole. This movie has the greatest line of dialogue ever written – Scotty: “An intellectual carrot. The mind boggles.” While a giant carrot is not technically an insect, the principle is the same. Some small, everyday item becomes giant and malevolent and tries to eat people. Just like our newest insect foe: the Psorophora ciliata.
The next time you swat a mosquito, realize you are not only defending your own skin, but you are defending the earth from Insect Fear. The mind boggles. You may now resume itching and scratching.