[LEPS-L:7878] Mosquito exposure

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Wed Nov 15 03:05:26 EST 2000

Ron Gatrelle wrote about his theory on building immunity to mosquitoes
through repetitive exposure.  I thought this a good time to ask a swell
question that has recently been buzzing for attention units.  What about
continuing exposure to DIFFERENT parasitic insects?  

As I've shared many times with this group, I spend a lot of time in various
hostile insect habitats - usually with little protection (shorts,
short-sleeves, and NEVER any repellant - note that this has nothing to do
with philosophy - only piss-poor planning, laziness, and stupidity).  As a
result, I'm often inundated with welts, stings, oozing bite wounds, rashes,
etc. (not much going on inside of me in the way of increasing immunity,

I've also noticed from various lepidopterist adventure talks that we
typically don't live very long.  I mean, I've been amazed at the number of
slide shows from 60 year old field lepidopterists that contain old photos of
colleagues that have since departed.  Serious - comments like, "Oh yeah,
this is me and Fred Stankowich in our outrigger canoe - God rest his soul -
he was always good for a few laughs.".  And, "this is a nice photo of
Charlie and me enjoying the smell of the rainforest in the morning - man how
I miss that crazy bastard", and so on.  

What is the expected lifespan of a field lepidopterist - especially those
who frequent multiple tropical habitats in a short span of years?.  Are we
really equipped to deal with a combination of ALL of the biting insects of
the world?  Perhaps sustained concentrations of boogers from multiple
continents may result in physiological reactions that wreak havoc on the
cardiovascular system.  On the other hand, maybe lepidopterists are not by
nature cautious people - and don't always look both ways before crossing the

Just some pleasant thoughts from the Windy City.

Mark Walker. 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ron Gatrelle [mailto:gatrelle at tils-ttr.org]
> Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 9:38 AM
> To: Leps-l
> Subject: [LEPS-L:7864] Mosquito compatible
>     When I first moved to the South (from San Diego to Pensacola) the
> humidity, mildew, roaches, and mosquitoes all in mass were 
> new to me. Thirty
> two years later and still in Allergy Country (Charleston, 
> SC), I learned how
> to stop the mildew, contain the roaches, and get used to the 
> humidity and
> the mosquitoes.
>     Here, as in Florida, people love to build fancy homes on 
> swamps and
> marshes to be near the ocean, lake, or river. They then spend 
> the rest of
> their lives fighting their neighbors -- mosquitoes.
>     I used to load myself up with mosquito repellent when I 
> went into the
> field (which was often in or near a swamp as I am a big skipper fan).
> However, some spot was always uncovered so I immediately got 
> bit. After just
> an hour all repellent had been washed away by profuse 
> sweating in 90 degree
> heat and 98% humidity. Then I spent all my time swatting not 
> collecting. I
> finally just gave up. Now, I may put on a little Skin So Soft 
> or nothing. I
> always wear long pants and a hat. But usually a short sleeved shirt.
>     This September while researching Pterourus troilus 
> fakahatcheensis in
> the southwest tip of Florida, a local guy I encountered was 
> amazed at the
> swarm of mosquitoes I had attracted. I told him I was used to 
> it. Yes, I
> still do some rubbing and swatting, but I also do some swelling --
> especially on my elbows. I don't swell as much as I used to 
> and I virtually
> never have to scratch. So my theory is that I am building up 
> an immunity.
> Now, unlike my wife, I have never had BIG reactions to 
> mosquito bites and
> fire ant stings (I barely react to poison Ivy). If the 
> manufacturers of bug
> zapppers and  mosquito repellent had to rely on people like 
> me for business,
> they would have none.
>  ------------------------------------------------------------ 
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