From observing the number of mosquitoes flying around indoors during the middle of the day, I gathered that we would need mosquito netting to sleep soundly through the night at Forfar Field Station. This was quite possibly the most advantageous deduction I have ever made, EVER.
As soon as the sun started sinking, I heard the buzzing. "Certainly not," I thought to myself. Never before had I heard the characteristic humming buzz of a congregation of mosquitoes while indoors. Yes, Joey and I have several extreme mosquito stories from our days in the Bahamas, but they usually involved camping way back in the bush with no wind. Soon this buzzing was right next to my ear. I was not overly alarmed. Perhaps a rogue mosquito made its way in while I was setting the net up or when someone was getting in or out. With a headlamp I was able to find and kill the trespassers. I tried to sleep. I was unsuccessful. The no see ums were relentless. Juniper and Pearl started tossing and turning. Shortly thereafter they were awake and scratching. I thought it was the no see ums, but apparently several mosquitoes had made their way back under the nets. I went through another killing spree. The girls still could not go back to sleep for the no see ums. A fan. I needed a box fan. I went looking. I roused the other Forfar staff from their movie watching and the search was on. We were successful, so I returned to our nest with Juniper and Pearl snuggling under the mosquito net comforting each other. Their attention towards each other was the scenario I had envisioned for rough weather at sea. I never imagined they would need those skills on land in defense of biting insects.
The fan seemed to work. We slept. At dawn I felt new itches and heard scratching. I opened my eyes to discover that several new mosquitoes made their way inside. I killed the ones I saw. I started to sleep again. Right before I was really drifting off, I instinctively opened my eyes and caught a mosquito on Juniper's chin. How in the world were they getting inside the net? I was feeling defeated and worried about the girls. They had been covered in bug bites before this night even began. Now we were in a bug situation a hundred times worse than on the boat or the beach. And I had committed to helping out around the field station for two and a half weeks.
Something had to be done. For the whole next day, I was given a ton of advice. Everyone suffered from looking at Juniper's skin eaten up the way it was. She was constantly scratching and a bit irritable. I was given mosquito coils to keep the pests away and petroleum jelly to help the itch. Even strangers were trying to give me helpful items. Juniper became everyone's cause. I never once used Off or Deet when I lived in the Bahamas. I never wanted to need the habit of putting all those chemicals on my body. I've always preferred more natural solutions. But my natural sprays and solutions were not working. I found a can of OFF. I couldn't bear to put it on skin, especially my children's. But I could put it on the mosquito nets. I also burned the mosquito coils. I rubbed Juniper's skin with the petroleum jelly. The girls slept. I was able to sweep the cabin without constantly swatting myself. I felt like I could actually make it in this land of biting bugs.
This is a bad bug year, everyone agrees. Winter temperatures never got cold enough to kill the larvae. And the rain. Well, I never remember so much rain. When I comment on the rain, the Bahamians just say, "Well, it is the rainy season." Nevertheless, I think the rain is more than usual and it has made its contribution to the local mosquito population. Considering this, I've developed a system. I learned to tuck in the edges of the mosquito nets. When there has been no wind, Juniper was dressed in long pants and long sleeved shirts. I have used OFF on their clothes and feet. I never thought I would use OFF with my children, but a mother has to do what she must. Even with OFF, the girls get a few bites here and there. Pearl handles the bites alright. Juniper swells up and scratches relentlessly. Her waking up a couple of times in the night to get rubbed down with ointment has become the routine. We do our best. I read an article from a cruising family stating that bug bites were their greatest first aid concern. Their kids rarely got sick. This has definitely been true for us. In the Pacific Northwest, we rarely got bug bites, but we frequently suffered from colds. Here, we do not get sick, but we are constantly swatting at bugs. Somehow, this seems just alright with me.