Tuesday, 3 July 2012
Finnish Mosquitoes Suck
In the summer, behind every idyllic Finnish countryside setting, there lurks an army if those evil creatures ready to ruin your enjoyment of it.
In general. I have a love-hate relationship with mosquitoes: I hate them, they love me. But Finnish mosquitoes ("hyttynen", in the singular form, which of course never occurs in the Finnish countryside), well, they absolutely ADORE me.
As it happens, I was in the Finnish countryside just last week and despite spending most of the time working indoors, I still got horribly bitten. I just know the pests were lying in wait for me: "Girls, he's out! Go, go, go!" – for let's not forget it's only the female mosquitoes that bite (the males feed on flower nectar, bless 'em).
Yes, yes, I know there exists very effective mosquito repellent. In Finland, the most popular seems to be "Off" (the brand name probably signifies "keep mosquitoes off" but I always think of it as an abbreviated and polite version of a 2-word interjection to the blood-suckers).
But here's the dilemma: you are happily ensconced inside, but you NEED to go to the out-house, do you a) spray yourself with repellent and stink for the rest of the day b) risk it? I chose to risk it and paid the price every time.
I have to ask though: Why are there so many mosquitoes in Finland?
I have been to lakes, rivers and forests in many countries in the world, and have never seen such a high density of mosquitoes as in Finland. Maybe it's because Finland was basically just one big swamp once upon a time...
[As an aside, I have a theory about the origin of the Finnish word for Finland, Suomi. I believe it's a contraction of "suomies" (swamp-man), in honour of the first inhabitants of the country. I could be very wrong, mind you.]
The other question I have is: Do Finnish mozzies actually prefer foreigners?
I ask this because I have noticed that I can be sitting outside covered from head to toe and fully "Off-ed", and mosquitoes will choose to swarm around me, seeking the smallest patch of unprotected skin, rather than go for the Finns sitting next to me wearing close to nothing. Maybe we foreigners are like exotic food to the heinous insects ("hey girls, forget the boring sausage-and-beer blood, check out what I've just found: Bresse-chicken-with-creamed-morel-mushrooms-and-Chablis blood!")
It's no laughing matter though: aside from being a pain in the neck (and the face, and the arms, and the legs, and the back), mosquitoes carry malaria. And Finland is not immune: in the course of my research for this blog-post (yup, believe it or not, I do actually research my ramblings), I found there have been in the past malaria epidemics in Finland as far North as Kittilä in Lapland and instances of the disease as late as 1954.
Does that concern the Finns? Hell no!
They hold the World Mosquito Killing Championships (WMKC) every year in Pelkosenniemi. The competition requires participants to swat as many mosquitoes as possible in 5 minutes – the most effective technique being obviously to offer their own flesh as bait. From what I could find out, the record is 21 mosquitoes...
Of course, if I took part in the competition, with my irresistible appeal to mosquitoes, I would be world champion. Strangely enough though, I am not tempted, despite my strong anophelicide urges (I told you I do research).
Posted by Telefinn at 18:33