In New Hampshire at this time of year, killing mosquitoes isn't just a necessity, it's a competition sport. True, there are people who live here for years without picking up the finer points of the sport, but they're understandably embarrassed about it. For those people - and folks from away who are trying to pass - here's a brief introduction to the basic mosquito-killing moves.
One-Handed Body SlapExperienced swatters know that mosquitoes are born with hand-evasion radar - it's nearly impossible to sneak up on a mosquito until it actually jabs its needle into your epithelium (a Greek word meaning "over the thelium," which just shows that the Greeks didn't know everything - I've been bitten everywhere but my thelium, although to be honest, I'm not sure where it's located).Championship technique calls for smashing the mosquito just before it actually draws blood. (Killing it after that is considered unsportsmanlike, not to mention messy.)
Two-Handed SlapThis is a fancier, competition slap, officially known as the "Two-Handed, Mid-Air Mash." It's more complicated since you have to take into account distance, wind speed and the mosquito's flight path. It's also a preemptive move and as such it bothers some bleeding hearts (and arms and necks) who think it's unfair since the bug hasn't actually bitten you yet. But people with more sense know that any mosquito, given the chance, will bite.A side note: Around here, local theatre groups often schedule their weakest productions during mosquito season. You get enough people doing the two-handed slap and it can sound like applause - a little sporadic, perhaps, but those folks will take what they can get."Go Ahead, Make My Day" SlapAlso known as the "Sacrifice Slap," this is a desperation move, usually performed by someone who can't sleep because a mosquito is buzzing around the bedroom. (Actually, it's worse when they stop buzzing. Mosquitoes are like kids in that respect; it's when they're quiet that you start to worry.) To attempt this slap, the swatter turns on a light, throws back the covers and waits for the bug to land on any exposed flesh, then pulverizes it. This isn't a move for beginners since there's an element of risk involved."Up Against the Wall, Little Bugger" Occasionally a mosquito will refuse to take the bait offered in the previous slap and simply land on a wall. The only way to deal with this is to get out of bed and attack the mosquito where it lands. On a hot summer night this can result in a fair number of little blotches on the wall, but if you do it right it doesn't look that bad. In fact, this technique was the inspiration for those small, repeated print wallpaper patterns that were so popular a few years ago.The "Best-seller Press"This one involves flattening a mosquito between the pages of whatever book the bug is trying to keep you from reading. It's a very difficult move and not recommended with library books, but extremely satisfying if you can achieve it."One-Handed, Mid-Air Grab"This is probably the most difficult of all moves. Some people have tried to perfect it for years without any luck. If you do manage to catch a mosquito this way, whatever you do, don't open your hand to examine your kill. More mosquitoes have been returned to the playing field by this mistake than any other. Instead, shake your fist before opening - if the bug is still alive, it'll be dizzy when you release it, and you'll get another chance. NH
This article appears in the November 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine