Merida, mosquitoes, security and extreme heat

I hate mosquitos. Although I generally avoid killing any living thing, including ants, I love killing mosquitos. Squishing them. Spraying them until they stagger and collapse in agony. Using machines that lure and then fry them. It’s a matter of self defense. They are invasive and injurious and they are parasites. I didn’t give them permission to suck my blood or give me malaria.

Rather than succumbing to them, we have discovered a couple of easier ways to deal with these disgusting insects. The trick is prevention. It’s almost impossible to keep them out of our big open homes here in Merida, but we try.

All our windows have screens, of course. As do the doors. That’s in addition to two big metal gates, also throughly screened. We keep compulsive watch for cracks or openings in the screening, or places it has departed from the wall.

Our own little patio carcel

Our own little patio carcel

One of the best things we did a few years ago, was to screen in our entire patio (above). Yes, it gives the patio a prison-like look, but we are pleasantly incarcerated under a bug-prooof open roof. We had metal workers design a giant framework and then carefully attach panels of screening. It has worked like a charm. The only thing I would do differently would be that instead of using black metal, I would have painted it white because the black iron absorbs the heat and sends it into our living area.

This arrangement is also a 100% effective security measure. In days gone by, especially if the house had been vacant, we’d find that entrepreneurial folks had lowered themselves from the roof into the house with a rope.

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We had a pencil tree that grew so high in the patio garden that it’s little branches poked right through the screening, so we trimmed it back and patched the miniscule holes it had made.

Jim has taken a liking to blue screening. At first I thought it looked tacky (well, it still looks tacky) but it blocks some of the sunlight. Right now, we are having an unprecedented heat wave here, and although there has been very little rain, we are suddenly getting waves of mosquitos.

Blue screen panels for shade

Blue screen panels for shade

Blue-screened window. Tacky but effective.

Blue-screened window. Tacky but effective.

Fully screened and barred rooftop palapa room

Fully screened and barred rooftop palapa room

Our other lines of defense against mosquitoes are repellent ¬†products. One is called Ultra 30 insect repellent, made by REI. It comes in a lotion and is 30% DEET. REI also sells a liquid called Jungle Juice made by a company called Sawyer. This lethal stuff is 98% DEET and you are advised not to apply it directly to your skin. Duh. (I do it anyway if I’m going to an exposed place at night). These products also protect you from ticks, flies and other despicable creatures and in the case of Jungle Juice, possibly from other human beings. These products are so effective that I think of them as suits of armor. Don’t drink them. You can order them from the REI website.

And we have those eye-catching orange spray bottles of RAID in every room.

We’ve had a spate of record-breaking heat here in the last 30 days. You can talk about shade, fans, airflow, etc. all you want, but when it’s this bad, the best solution is air conditioning. Lots of it. The most and the strongest you can afford. If you are lucky enough to have a pool (we aren’t), that does help a lot too, but you can’t stay in it day and night.

We aren’t security experts, but we’ve found that the best defense against theft is redundant security. That is, if there is a lock on the front door, you might also consider putting good locks on all the inner doors as well.

The only break-in we’ve had in about 20 years (well before the patio prison was installed) was when someone very tiny cut a hole in the roof of our palapa and squeezed in. They stole a hammock. They had to go out the same way they got in, because the two doors to the palapa have strong locks on them. Thus, they couldn’t carry anything large or heavy, like the refrigerator. Even if they’d gotten out of the palapa doors, they still wouldn’t have been able to get into the main part of the house because there is yet another locked gate.

We don’t lock every little door all the time, of course.

Oh, the heat is awful. Last week we went to the beach for a breather, but it was hotter in San Crisanto than it was in Merida. We took our 15 year-old malamute, Cujo, who is a real trouper. He was glad to be off leash, but he just found a shady spot and lay quietly. We gave up after two or three hours, when the electricity went off, so we didn’t even have fans to move the stifling air around on the patio. When we got back to Merida, poor old Cujo collapsed on the street getting out of the car and couldn’t get up. Getting his 130 pounds into the house was difficult. Dr. Tony Rios from Planned Pethood, the legendarily fabulous vet clinic, came immediately and carted him off to the clinic where they put him in a zero degrees C room for two hours. He revived well.

Magnificent San Crisanto beach

Magnificent San Crisanto beach

It’s too hot to walk early in the morning or late at night. It’s too hot to transplant my baby tomato plants into the ground. I don’t remember it ever being so hot here for so long. There are a bunch of storms predicted, and I wish they would come now. Meanwhile, we have our trusty LG air conditioners.

About BG

Beryl Gorbman is a writer and private investigator who divides her time between Seattle WA and Merida Yucatan Mexico. She has published two works of fiction, 2012: Deadly Awakening, and Madrugada. They are both available on Amazon and other outlets. Also at Amate Books, and Casa Catherwood in Merida. You can read about them in various articles on this site.
This entry was posted in Merida Expat Life, Writing Projects. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Merida, mosquitoes, security and extreme heat

  1. Rob says:

    I hate mosquitoes as well, and I am also allergic to most chemicals used in those “Mosquito Killer” poisons and “Off!” sprays. The solution I’ve found are those incenses that I got from Catherwood. They come from India and they really work. I think they have eucalyptus oil which is a natural repellant. The only other alternative I can think of is to get a freshwater pool for mosquito-eating amphibians, but let’s face it, geckos make so much damn noise. Rob

  2. Cherie Pi says:

    My “solution” to the mosquitoes…..I drown them in my sweat!

  3. One more thing... says:

    Catnip.

    The catnip plant is supposed to drive away mosquitoes…. supposedly far more effective than DEET

  4. I, too, hate mosquitos. And have long been a fan of Florida rooms. I’ve always wondered why such screening of entire patios doesn’t occur in Merida. It would be so easy with walled gardens. So I loved reading about your large screening efforts. You’ve got me thinking again. Thanks.

  5. Suk Banks says:

    Tx, would u mind let me know who install the screen, it’s beautiful & work good in merida.

  6. kwallek says:

    No Pest Strips work well for killing bugs in general. They cost about $5 in the States and work for about 4 months. They say to not use them in enclosed areas but my family has used them for 40 years or so with no ill effect. I think they are safer than the crud you put on your skin to make them bite someone else and much safer than taking a chance on them biting you and making you sick.

  7. Rummy says:

    I hear you. Fishflies, Junebugs… hundreds of zillions of them, droning a unstoppnig, tuneless, mind-jelloing buzz over my head for the last week. Much more of this, shutting me up in the house, making every door opening an Omaha Beach run for cover type of entry, stopping me for hanging clothes, working in the garden…. and I’ll be an “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” waiting to erupt.

  8. John says:

    Sounds like a really great place to live :-(

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