Arriving at our hotel in Ay, in France, I asked the ubiquitous question, “do you have mosquitoes here?” To which the receptionist replied, “no, there es no water for them to breed.” However in my experience this sort of reply usually means diddly sqat or not a lot –in India nearly all hotel staff will tell you there’s not a mosquito problem- its bad for business. So, l was unsurprised to find a specimen bloodsucker in our room the next day, which was promptly caught under a glass & left on the table as we were going out. Unfortunately the maid released the critter and I got a bite during the night. Its not worth sleeping under a net if there’s only one or two mosquitoes unless there is disease present like in India and Africa OR you suffer from a bad reaction –many people have died from secondary infections from insect bites.
I was now on a mission to exterminate said mosquito but it was too late she had flown and probably laid around 200 eggs with the help of my blood meal. It only takes a cup of stagnant water for her to lay the eggs and this can be found in many places such as a partially blocked gutter or discarded can.
Although on the whole, mosquitoes have not been too much in evidence this year, in France. This is probably because of the mass pesticide spraying from aircraft after the Spring across much of France.
The trouble with pesticides is that apart from making the insects stronger –only the strongest or mutants survive this toxic chemical onslaught- the land gets polluted and many people die from pesticide poisoning; mainly agricultural workers through coming into contact with these deadly chemicals.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) between 1-3% of these workers suffer from acute pesticide poisoning and many of these are children; around a million cases worldwide require hospitalisation each year, though around 4 times this number do not recieve any medical treatment. It is estimated that up to 300 000 people die every year although a good few of these deaths are suicides -people ingesting pesticides. Not everyone realises that DEET is a pesticide and the only one that people apply directly to their skin! There are many natural alternatives as good at protecting you if not better so why some people would choose to use to slather a deadly neurotoxin all over their skin is beyond me.
The vast majority of the vineyard growers in the Champagne region no longer use pesticides on their land which has resulted not only in better tasting Champagne and wines but also in less pollution in the soil. I will drink to that.