Saturday, September 11, 2010

Controlling Mosquitoes

Most days I arrive home after work around 6:35 in the morning and if there are no lights blazing I cut the engine as I come down the street and roll the Bonneville under the house under it's own momentum. No matter how quiet my arrival it only takes a few minutes before I hear the click clacking of dog nails on the bamboo floor above my head.Down the stairs she comes ready to swipe my face with her tongue and whack my legs with her tail. The moon has been a mere sliver of it's former self and as usual a new moon brings a spring tide in it's wake. So much so the canal has been full almost to overflowing in the morning as the Atlantic tides rise as full as they can. That puts my little Dusky 14 footer and it's 25 horsepower motor at dock level just about.The presence of a great deal of fresh water has brought out the mosquito vector control people in force. Mosquitoes don't breed in salt water happily or we'd all be dead. Controlling the mosquito habitat ("vector") is an endless task and as one might imagine it is a task that pleases just about no one. I wasn't surprised to see the brown mosquito control district helicopter buzzing Summerland Key across the salt ponds. They drop an innocuous cereal-like pellet that messes up the mosquito lifestyle without poisoning the world below.Mosquito control has been in the news lately with two members of the board up for election this year. It has been described as a scandal that the smallest public agency in the county has the director with the largest salary, around $185,000 a year I believe. At a time when public employees are under attack by the forces of darkness that want us all, private and public workers, to be reduced to poverty, the district is doing a piss poor job of drawing attention to itself and it's dirty laundry. A manager is being prosecuted for allegedly using work phones for private use- a man who reportedly earns better than a hundred thousand a year and stands accused of being an idiot, unwilling to pay for his own phones like the rest of us. And yet while the bosses tussle about buying television air time to advertise their services and how much to pay themselves, the workers keep working. Which is as well for those of us that don't much like mosquitoes. It's hot and humid still in the Keys, and we are seeing lots of rain that makes fresh water puddles which encourage mosquitoes to breed. There is some talk of dengue fever, and speaking as one who contracted it in Central America years ago it is no particular threat to healthy well nourished people, though the flu-like fever is no fun at all. Still one can't help wondering if the threat of dengue spells more problems for a beleaguered public health system in a country that likes to think it can function without government, or if it is just a tool for government to expand it's powers, as one more anti government conspiracy. Perhaps it's neither and perhaps mosquitoes and dengue and cell phone bills are just one more way to pass through the doldrums of September without going mad from boredom.