Getting those pesky skitoes to buzz off

A long, long, time ago, Cayman was famous for mosquitoes – but not anymore – thanks to MRCU and Dr. Marco Gigolli.


In one single night, 793,103 mosquitoes were caught in a light trap in Bodden Town in 1974. Photo: Submitted

Mosquito control became a necessity in the Islands almost four decades ago. Children walked to school with books in one hand and smoke pan in the other.

Cows left outside were dead come daybreak from bites and suffocation.

Our poor ancestors travelling by canoe, bicycle, donkey or boat didn’t know when they would be attacked, or when the feeding frenzy would take place.

I remember going outside one evening with my sister Marilyn just to see how many mosquitoes we could capture. After hundreds of bites and hundreds of captured mosquitoes we gave up the fight.

You can swat, slap, duck and run – it doesn’t matter, ‘skitoes’ track you down and leave you with itchy red welts. Their favourite pastime is biting and buzzing in the ear, especially at night when you want to sleep.

It has been recorded that over 35 species of mosquitoes live on the islands and back in the 70’s, 600 bites per minute on one arm have been recorded.

In one single night 793,103 mosquitoes were caught in a light trap in Bodden Town in 1974.

In olden days some solutions to getting rid of the pesky critters were the flit gun and the ol’ smoke pan packed with cow manure. Phew! Imagine the smell, but it was much more tolerable than the mosquitoes.

Today, there are all sorts of remedies, chemicals, off, sprays, coils, herbs, limes, fire heap and nets to snare the blighters.

But the sound of the Mosquito Research Control Unit spray plane soon became their worse enemy. Mosquito eating fish were also introduced into their swampy breeding grounds.

Dr. Gigolli enlisted the bravest of Caymanians to be sent out in MRCU trucks with chemical laden fogging machines attached to the back to smother the ‘skitoes’ in a cloud of chemical white smoke.

‘Mosquito truck coming,’ yelled the children of the neighbourhood. This was considered play time for youngsters who ran behind it and played in the smoke, except it wasn’t smoke – it was chemicals.

The little blood suckers, as they are sometimes called, prefer early morning or late evening to seek out victims for feeding. And so do the nasty little pests called sandflies or no-seeums (you don’t hear em and you don’t see em).

These tiny little mites can easily go through window screens and love to bite. You’ll know when you’re being attacked as you’ll feel lots of itchy bitty things on all parts of the body. Like mosquitoes they tend to be bad at sunset – take the same precautions as with dealing with mosquitoes.

Some Caymanians claim the sandflies which are even smaller than a sand grain are worse than mosquitoes.

Make sure you have plenty of insect-repellant-smelling candles around, or, a nicer name, Citronella. But you will have to suffer through the absolutely dreadful stench, and risk the little mosquitoes dropping dead in your food and drink.

It also helps to get rid of any stagnant water you have lying around in pots and pans in your yards. These are favourite breeding grounds for mosquitoes during the rainy season.