Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rain Brings Mosquito Plague to Yucatán

Above is a photo of yesterday's front page news.  The 'plagas' or plagues from the rains they report about are mosquitos and "baches", which I learned from the article are 'potholes' in the streets.

These problems are the result of the incredible amount of rain we have had lately.  I wrote a post the other day called, "Will It Ever Stop?" about the rain, but as I finished writing it, it did stop, so I didn't post it.  The heavy downpours let up for about a day and a half.

The weather has been strange since the last week in June.  That is when Alex, yet unnamed, was twirling about in the Western Caribbean, causing lots of showers to drift over our way.  As the storm moved northwest, slowly, we had several days of what I might call Seattle weather, gray skies for days and days.  Adding convection heating to the peninsula's already saturated ground, we were in for heavy tropical rains every afternoon.

As the first system moved through, the second tropical depression had already begun to head our way.  It never took on a name, even though it almost became Bonnie as it crossed the Yucatán on its path from the southeast. Eventually TD2 (tropical depression 2) was born in the Southeastern Gulf of Mexico, just west of us, where it picked up more moisture and is currently plaguing northeastern Mexico and deep southern Texas with more rain than they need.

These storms brought with them other plagues.  Some folks have blogged about them, Debi's is good...She talks about the night we had flying fornicating ants.  They had it worse at their house, oddly enough, just a few blocks away, as we only found a handful of them the day after.  We had more of the flying termites the night before the flying fornicating ants....the wings covered everything.  But those were one time events.

The plaga began two days ago.  MOSQUITOS.  We have mosquitoes around year round, I won't deny that.  This week I felt like I was being eaten alive and tortured.  As hot and humid as it is, 100% even when it is not raining, I put on long pants and a long sleeved shirt to avoid the mossies.  That didn't work. They bit right through the hammock and Bali pants and I had bites all over my ass.  We have an armada of weaponry to fight mosquitoes.  We usually start with the Raid Lavender Mosquito Coils.  I call them Mexican incense.  The locals call them 'killers'.  They HELP but do not solve the problem. 

We have bigger guns to break out.  Slightly off topic, in the photo a few paragraphs below on the left is ANT POISON POWDER.  That is lethal stuff and we don't use it often because of the cats.  They don't sell anything like it in the US.  (They use muriatic acid like it was Joy! and lots of other toxic materials here.)  We basically have an ant invasion every day before a rainstorm.  They come in through the electrical outlets, from tiny crawl spaces in the window jams, or parade in proudly through little side routes in the doors.  I probably kill ants fifty times a day in the kitchen, maybe a few, maybe a big parade. I have other weapons I use before the ant powder and I apologize for not taking a photo of them.

On the floor I use medicated talcum powder, or whatever talc I can find during an invasion.  It confuses the ants,  and the only problem with this method is the floors become super slippery.  And of course it looks like someone spilled flour or cocaine all over the floor and left it there. Another remedy is vinegar.  For a while I had a spray bottle of vinegar on the counter, that also confuses them, and in my case drowns them.  But I don't always want to smell vinegar.  So I replaced it...and the spray bottle now has undiluted Ajax Expel.  That kills 'em dead!  So much for the ants.  They didn't make the front page.

Sometimes we have to vacate and spray entire rooms with one of the two bug sprays in the center of the photo.  These are also used against ant invasions, the occasional palmetto bug that flies in, or other critters that people find unacceptable.  I don't think these sprays kill all the mossies, maybe they are becoming resistent to our current killers.

And on the right is the trusty spray repellent. I am not crazy about spraying that toxic crap all over me, but I can be driven to it - often enough that I want a full can sitting there at all times.  I really hate being eaten alive, and it's happened to me too many times to count.  We won't get into the crazy situations I was in to be eaten alive; that would take a long time.  I'd rather mention that it is important to kill these mosquitoes because there is a threat of dengue fever, transmitted by these particular mosquitoes' bites.  According to the Diario, in the Yucatán there have been 600 cases reported in the past couple of weeks, and 40 of those were hemorrhagic. They might not call it malaria, but it can be as deadly!  

This past week someone mentioned to me that ZAP RACQUETS were available here. I think I saw one at my neighbors' house a long time ago, but I never gave it a second thought.  I remember Maxine had one in Hawaii, and it worked great! When we were invaded this week, I went straight to Win Fa Chinese Restaurant, across from Santa Ana Park, an picked up two of these raquetas.
After the initial charge, I decided to see how many mosquitoes there were in the house.  After sweeping through the house like a desperate housewife in a fantasy tennis tournament, I had killed dozens of the little buggers.  But I was only getting started.  I pulled chairs away from tables, and underneath...ZAPx3. I went into the closet and ruffled the clothing...ZAP x100. I went into the bathroom. They seem to come up from the drains...ZAPx50. I went outside and ruffled leaves on the ground, ZAPx30 per ruffle. I was on a roll. I killed flies, fleas, ants, a stink bug, and a tiny centipede.  When Pablo sat at his desk and was immediately surrounded by blood thirsty mossies, he gave his racquet a try, and ZAPx25.  We both took on mosquito zapping as a sport, and the house was bug free for several hours.  Until the next rain when the whole thing started over again.  But the improvement was drastic and quite noticeable.  THIS IS THE BIG GUN!  The racquet.  Unfortunately the racquet scares the cats, but they will have to get used to it.  I would NEVER have been able to concentrate enough to finish this post without my tool, because the two coils I have burning near my feet are not doing the job this afternoon.

Below is a photo of me in position for a thunderstorm.  Often I will sit more upright and use the time to write, but other times I just like to turn off the lights and watch the lightning in the sky.  If we get a late afternoon rain worth hitting the hammock for, that is where I usually end up for the rest of the day, whether it continues to rain or not.  When I tire of reading or writing I find the remote control.

Tuesday this week, the Mérida Weather Underground forecast called for a 90% chance of 59mm of rain.  That is 2.32 inches.  I think we got more than two inches.  The photos below are the street in front of my house that USED TO flood all the time.  Recently the city cleaned the drains or drilled more or new ones....they did something, and there was no River 75 for at least three weeks!  But since there is no sewer system(click for a link to Mikey's sad but true story about Merida's "system"), the new drains were unable to stop flooding this week.  The accumulative amounts of rainfall have been impressive. 

The waves sloshed into our carport underneath the gate, but you can see some of the folks across the street took in some serious water.  Everyone is used to this sight during the rainy season, but it never ceases to fascinate me.  If I have to blog about the rain again, maybe I will explain the complicated system of keeping water out of the house as the sideways driving rain gushes in through tiny little openings unseen in drier times by the naked eye.....


norm said...

We use NO PEST STRIPS to keep the bugs at bay, they last for 3-4 months and work as well as anything else.

Linda Dorton said...

Norm,Do they sell them in Mérida? Every weapon is a good weapon. I have been having fun playing mossie tennis tho1 Thanks for the info.

norm said...

I buy mine at Home Depo. There is one of those stores on the north side of Merida. I have no idea if they carry no pest strips there. I used one in a cabin tent in Alaska once and they did the job.

Jonna said...

ah ha! You got the last of the matamoscas at the Chinese restaurant!! I went over to buy a couple on Monday and they said they were out but come tomorrow. Yea, I went back on Tues and there is a big tarp over the entrance that says they will be working on Thursday. I hope they have the rackets then. Last year we bought one from Steren and it died within 2 hours so I'm not going that route again.

Linda Dorton said...

Well it was MIKE who bought the last one! Because when I went they still had them....hee hee. Wow are they fantastic. I found they also kill fleas. I have "seats" for my cats and I skim over the areas the cats sleep and zap zap zap. Hope you can get some! The mossies have been extreme!