Hello there. My name is Vera and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself, and hopefully help you understand who we, as mosquitoes, are and why I am not quite like the rest of my clan.
Ever since I was born, I have always felt just a bit different from all the other mosquitoes I know. Ok, so I would hang around those men and women, boys and girls, just waiting for the right moment to buzz down and take just a little bit of their blood for dinner, but I only did it because it was necessary, and I was never entirely comfortable with being a little vampire.
I do admit that I occasionally joined in the fun of swooping down and hovering right next to the ear of someone in the middle of the night, and then quickly going to hide behind the curtains as they woke. The conversation was predictable but generally raised a laugh from the mosquito crowd.
“Did you hear that?”
“Eh?” (That was always cool, waking up two people for the buzz of one).
“There’s a mosquito in here.”
There would be slaps on the back for that occasion’s buzzer and he or she would accept the praise with a smile and a nod of the head.
Then, one of two things would happen. The sleepier partner would tell the other just to pull the covers up, or the one who had heard the buzzing would turn the light on. That’s when it got exciting as unless you were just plain stupid, or a bit too daring, you could always get away.
The fact that the man (it was always the man) was usually half asleep and balancing on the edge of the bed just added to the fun as you only had to fly up to a top corner and he couldn’t reach you.
There were casualties on our part, obviously, but as I said it was the stupid mosquitoes that were done for, sitting in a place where they could get whacked by a newspaper or a slipper. I remember when that happened to that dimwit Malcolm. Everyone said it was no great loss to the community and could only help the improvement of the species. It’s a bit like when the slowest wildebeest is caught by the lions. (We watch TV you know, perched high on the back wall of your sitting room.)
The mosquitoes with most bravado will actually do this on purpose; sit right in view of the slipper bearer, then try to fly away at the very last moment, as he brings his weapon down hard against the wall. Mosquitoes who take risks obviously suffer more accidents than those that don’t, but you have to understand that the life of a mosquito is not the most exciting of existences and you have to get your kicks where you can. Think of this activity as one of our extreme sports, and it certainly gives you a good story to tell to the children. One of my mates Mandy was the bravest mosquito I ever knew, flirting with a splattering time and time again, until she met her match in a particular accurately aimed rolled-up newspaper. That was a sad day, and many tears were shed.
Fortunately this kind of tragedy is not a common occurrence and after a while of flailing around the man and his slipper will usually admit defeat and give up, and his wife turn the light off. After that you wait just long enough for them to fall back to sleep, and then you buzz past their ears again and restart the whole process off. It’s hilarious!
Now you may think this a little mean on the part of the mosquito community, but you have to realise that there’s a whole industry out there based simply on trying to kill us. Now that’s what I call mean.
So the fact that we wake you up at three o’clock in the morning with that high-pitched whine is really only us trying to pay you back for all those sprays designed to wipe us out. I do hope you understand this.
Oh I know about the fact that we’re supposed to transmit Malaria, but come on, that’s not our fault! That’s Malaria’s fault! We don’t want to carry it around, just like you don’t want to get the flu.
I can’t stress this enough: We don’t do it on purpose!
Ooh, I’ve got all hot and bothered now, so I’m going to take a deep breath, stretch my little wings and try and calm down.
That’s better. Sorry about that little rant.
Anyway, as I said before, I have no problem with this little game of ours, but the other thing we do which you don’t like, biting you, well, I’ve never liked it either. That’s how I knew was different and why I felt I had to make a radical change to my life.
You may wonder why I felt I needed to be different and really there are a couple of reasons, neither of which, I have to say, any of my mosquito friends would understand.
The first is simply that I realised that I didn’t like the taste of blood! I know that must sound ridiculous coming from a mosquito, but it’s true, just like there are English people who are not that keen on a cup of tea or Americans who would turn their nose up at the sight of a hamburger.
Yes, every sip of blood would send a shiver of displeasure through my body, but what could I do? Nature had decided that blood is what we live on and I really didn’t think I had an alternative. I would look at my friends Martin and Melanie absolutely relishing in that red liquid and it would make me feel sick.
The second reason was that I always felt really guilty about leaving those red bumps on people’s bodies. And then seeing people scratching away the next day, well, I just thought that was all wrong really. If we could take your blood without giving you a hard time maybe I would feel differently, but again, Nature made this kind of decision a long time before I was born.
You have to understand that it was really hard for me because this kind of thing is not something you bring up in conversation with your mosquito friends. I only ever mentioned it to my best friend Mia once, and even she looked at me as if I was crazy.
There were times when I longed to be just like them. They all have their favourite areas. There are the ankle specialists, the forearm merchants, the back biters and many other types. I used to watch them all revelling in the discomfort that they were inflicting on people but I couldn’t join in. Not only were my mates getting fed, but they were enjoying the whole process too!
I remember Michael (R.I.P. two weeks ago, caught in the stream of an aerosol burst) and Melvin (still alive and buzzing) who, having watched a scene on TV from a Dracula film, decided they wanted to have a go themselves. They started biting the same person once each, a couple of centimetres apart on the neck. A few of us would watch and I have to admit it was funny when one of the more gullible actually believed that they had been bitten by a vampire!
Since Michael’s tragic demise, Melvin has recruited Margie to the cause and they’re continuing their work, or art, as they call it. Not surprisingly they have a many fans in the mosquito fraternity.
Now I can see how they get satisfaction from doing it and the pride they feel at having taken biting to a new level, but Melvin actually asked me before Margie, (I think he fancied me) and I had no hesitation in turning him down. I just get no pleasure from that kind of thing.
So there you have the two main reasons why I felt different and I needed to change my lifestyle, but the thing that made me realise what I could do with myself was actually to connected to our names.
I thought about all my friends, living and buzzing, or splatted and dead: Martin, Melanie, Malcolm, Mandy, Michael, Melvin, Margie and Mia.
And I thought about my own name: Vera.
Now Martin the Mosquito sounds quite cool doesn’t it? Mia Mosquito sounds even better. (We all agree that Malcolm Mosquito is not the greatest, but we think it was more to do with Malcolm himself, not his name.)
But Vera Mosquito just doesn’t roll off the tongue the way all my friends’ names do. If I was a vole or actually a vampire it would be all right, but I can’t change that part of me. So I thought long and hard about what I could change that would sort out my distaste for blood and red welts and also make my name sound good.
Then, in a flash it came to me. I would become Vera the Vegetarian Mosquito! It was so right that tears welled up with the emotion.
Off I flew into the garden and started experimenting on the stems of various plants. The wealth of flavours available was just amazing and I couldn’t believe I had never tried them before. And what makes it even better is that the plants don’t seem to mind me taking a few drops of their juices. No red bumps appear on their skin.
In a way I’m now living a bit of a double life as I’ve been too embarrassed to tell anyone, even Mia, about my new diet. I still see all of my friends and although some of them tell me I’m looking a bit pale, I just laugh it off by saying I haven’t been out in the sun recently (which is patently untrue, as I spend far more time outside than they do).
I still join in occasionally with the buzzing-around-the-ear games, but never again will I be taking any of your blood, and I can honestly say that I’m really happy with the way things have worked out for me.
So there you have it. And if you happen to see a rather anaemic-looking mosquito sitting on a wall having a rest, please think twice before reaching for that rolled-up newspaper or that killer spray. You wouldn’t want to do away with Vera the Vegetarian Mosquito now would you!