About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Among Mosquitoes, Only the Mothers Suck Blood.

At the crack of dawn, a mosquito often wakes me. I carefully scoop my son out of his crib and bring him into bed with me. I lie awake, as light fades into the room, with my son under my arm and my hand hovering in the air, waiting. I am daring and fierce when my baby is in danger.
Sometimes I relax and doze off but as soon as I hear the high pitched buzz of the mosquito’s wings, my senses return. I watch the empty air for a flutter. I listen for her humming wings. All the while, I stay completely still with my chest and shoulders exposed, letting the sweet smell of my skin lure her to me.
She can’t resist. The mother in her drives her to take impossible risks. She needs my blood to feed the eggs growing inside of her. Like me, she can be daring and fierce when her babies are in danger. It is her motherly instinct that draws her to my naked skin. It is my motherly instinct that keeps me awake, ready to kill.
            Finally, she lands. I strike. There is a moment of stillness. I lift my palm slowly, holding my breath. A smear of blood and the remains of her crushed body stain my hand. I exhale.


  1. Only female mosquitoes of most species suck blood; male mosquitoes pollinate flowers. There are 2,700 different species of mosquitoes. In some mosquito species like the Toxorhynchites brevipalpis neither male nor female sucks blood. Instead they pollinate orchids in Ethiopia and eat other species of mosquito larva.
    The female mosquitoes who suck blood don’t dabble in the act. The female mosquito needs the rich protein found in blood to generate the 2,000 eggs she lays in her short lifetime. If she is not killed, she drinks over two times her own weight. She sucks blood through her proboscis, which is like a hypodermic needle, while excreting saliva that keeps the blood from clotting and later causes the victim to itch. Bloodsucking is a necessary motherly instinct.
    Sometimes malaria and other life threatening diseases seep down with the saliva into the victims’ blood. In tropical rain forests, mosquitoes are man’s worst enemies, carrying malaria, yellow fever, dengue, encephalitis, and filariasis. It can be said that mosquitoes, among other dangerous rainforest inhabitants, have protected the rain forests by keeping people out. This far north mosquitoes aren’t know to carry diseases, but mosquitoes, ticks, and chiggers keep people out of the Ozarks. These parasites protect the wild country here.

  2. Roslyn!

    How delightful!! Thank you for sharing. I've read every blog on your post, and can feel the expression of the land in your words.

    I do have an interesting tidbit about mosquitoes. My beloved Joe is never effected by them. He never feels their bites, and never has a remaining itchy mark. I began a search for why and found the following.

    You write true when you say it's only the female mosquito that drinks animal blood. After they've inserted their sharp needle-like straws and begin to drink, when you slap them into your skin, it ejects all the toxins and diseases it might be carrying directly into you. If you leave the mosquito to finish having her fill, when she draws out her needle-like straw, she also takes all her diseases with her. It's not the bite that infects humans with diseases like malaria. It is the act of killing them while they are connected to the skin.

    I used to get red, itchy mosquito bites. I used to slap every single one I felt. It felt like they would swarm all over me every time I stepped outside. One day, I decided to try something new. I began breathing deep and holding my hands together whenever I felt a mosquito land. I would wait the full minute while it drank my blood and fill it's little expanding red underbelly. I began examining each in increasing detail. I had never taken the time to really see a mosquito.

    When the mosquito finished, it withdrew its sharp straw, and I had no lingering itchy feeling, nor any trace the bite was made. I followed this delicate routine with every bite. Within the week, I stopped feeling anxious when they landed, and instead braced for the little needle insertion as if it were an expert acupuncturist.

    Within the month, I stopped noticing whether a mosquito bit or not. It has been two years now, and I am no longer effected by mosquitoes. No itchy bites taking days to heal. No anxiety when the mosquito lands. Now, we're just co-existing friends whenever I'm out.

    However, I do maintain my home with strict conditions to limit the mosquito population. I never leave upturned containers out that will provide excellent breeding grounds for mosquito larva in stagnant water. If I uncover such, I immediately turn it over. There are enough breeding grounds without me making more. Even as such, I have come to realize that mosquitoes are a very integral part of the animal food chain. Everything from hummingbirds to frogs feed on these little delicacies. A hummingbird can eat thousands in one day.

    Thank you for sharing your stories. I would love to read your book when it is completed.

    It's interesting that you've been focusing on writing these last few months, for so have I. My architect and I are writing a book on the beauty of attainable sustainability. We're both writing, I'm editing, and she's doing the drawings. It's a fun work to write, for it has been the focus of my life, and the inspiration for designing the CORE home - www.thecorehome.com. It's midway drafted to date.

    Please continue sharing your blogs with me. You are a sister to me, and I am happy to know kindred spirits that are reaching for the truth and freedom found in connecting with their home spaces.

    With love,