Wednesday, November 19

Jamaica: Get Your Scratch On

Each time you go to Jamaica, you're awestruck by the beauty, the people and the bloodthirsty ferocity of the mosquitos. And each time you go, you think you have the proper arsenal against these guys. Let me show you what you're up against in the insect world down there. This is a Jamaican moth.

If you're looking at this on a plasma wall screen, it might be close to actual size. The wingspan on this critter was about 7". And yes, that's redeye from the flash you see in his eyes.

So you see that Jamaica's mosquitos have learned from the best as far as bravado goes. How do you fight them? There are many products you can buy - all of which are as effective as coating your body in bacon fat:

Mosquito coils: The ability to separate mosquito coils is in direct proportion to the number of times you've visted the tropics. These flat spiral incense-like deals are supposed to repel bugs if you hold the burning part of the coil directly on the mosquito's thorax. But this only pisses them off. I stopped using them on the fourth day when - swear to God - a mosquito was relaxing on the coil waiting for me - living, breathing, laughing. Mosquito coils also are now found to have a lovely side effect. Next.

The VapeMat: This is a fairly new item which plugs into the wall. You place a little blue tablet on a little silver heating element and the little vapors are supposed to kill every little thing in the room. This is chillingly demonstrated by the illustration on the VapeMat box (Caution: contains extremely graphic death):

So I tried this one night, fully expecting to walk into the room and wade through a lake of mosquito corpses. The only thing that died was the VapeMat which turned white after the active ingredient is used up. The mosquitos were still circling, possibly hoping the VapeMat would kill me and they could swoop in for the feast. We were both disappointed.

The No-Mosquito Candle: This citronella-based product came out on the Jamaica market in the last few years. It comes in a little paint can and burns for about 60 hours. We noticed that the light attracted mosquitos and they tried to land in the hot wax to enjoy the view only to meet their doom. It gets about 3 points for that alone. Unfortunately, since the product is supposed to repel mosquitos, we'll take back those three points and go home. It's our game.

100% Deet: The old standby which we tried the last few trips. Sort of effective but really toxic-smelling. We decided there were other ways of passing out using less poisonous methods in Jamaica, so deet is off the list.

Which (because of time constraints) brings us to the winner:

Avon Bug Guard Expedition: This stuff kicks serious mosquito ass for 8 hours, and it doesn't reek of chemicals. Previously untested by us, we brought 8 cans of this stuff. At $12 a can at, it ain't cheap, but we snagged them when they had one of their random half-price sales, so look for it. We now know that one can takes care of two people head-to-toe for one full day. Unfortunately, we were there for ten days, so we spent our last 48 hours there getting our remaining blood drained by the little bastards. That's where Benadryl Extra-Strength Anti Itch Spray took over (our Miss Congeniality of the mosquito battle pageant).

To close this pest control segment of our travelogue, we bring you a lovely local Jamaican rat trap product as displayed at D.J.'s Convenience Store on the Negril cliffs. See ya next time!