I am a feast. I am delicious. I am craved.
Sadly, there’s nothing sexy about these statements. At least not in this context. I am a veritable feast for the insects that abound in my new city.
Truth be told, I have always been a magnet for biting insects. Something about my sweet blood temps them. I’ve heard it’s because have type A+ blood. Anecdotally, other A+ folks have confirmed this, but there are plenty of other blood types that suffer too. Maybe it’s my lotion; although, with my hypersensitivity to scents, I usually use something plain. Maybe it’s my diet; there is evidence that a potassium-rich diet can lead to more mosquitos snacking on you, and I do love me some spinach.
It’s been this way my whole life. As a child in Maine, running like a wild thing in the woods and near the water, I would be eaten alive by mosquitos. I’d scratch my arms and legs raw and try everything to make the itching stop. In southern New Mexico, we had big ants whose bites were so painful, after one encounter I ended up at my frenemy’s house looking for her (any) mom to help me. Another childhood friend and I still talk about the time we were plagued with spider bites in Arizona. In Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, I slathered myself in bug spray daily to keep the bloodthirsty hoards at bay. If I ever missed a spot, I’d find out real quick.
And now I live in the South in a lush city filled with trees, grass, streams, and bugs. The “natural” bug spray I got smells horrendous to me. So I only use it for prolonged outdoor trips and shower straight after returning to the house. The shower is not a problem, because if I’m outside in the 80% humidity, I’m generally coming home a sweaty mess. I also heard that peppermint oil mixed with water is a way to deter insects (and smells much better). However, as before, if I miss a spot, something will find that piece of unprotected skin. I walked outside to get the mail – bitten. I stood on the porch to talk briefly with the gardener – bitten. I sprayed myself all over before going out to put tags on the car – I must have missed a strip of ankle because I got four bites in the time it took to place a sticker. I love being outdoors, but I do not love being a buffet for biting creatures.
Here’s the thing, though, the inside is no longer safe either. We’re looking after (and adopting) a small kitten. He was so tiny and sick when first we were fostering him, we weren’t sure he was going to make it. Now, he’s doing great. He’s in full-tilt full-on no-denying kitten mode. Sure he loves to cuddle up when he’s tired, but if he’s not asleep, he’s generally trying to break world records for mischievousness. He’s still being kept apart from our resident cats for most the day, but he has full run of our very large spare room. We have toys and things to chase, and I even created a peek-a-boo box for him to play in. He loves it, he likes to chase the ball he broke out of another toy, and he really likes ribbons. But his favorite? My hands. The soft spot in the crook of my elbow. My ankles. Oooh and toes if I’m lying down. I do not, nor have I ever, encouraged this. I (try to) redirect his attention to chew toys and the stuffed animals bought especially for this purpose. It distracts him for a second, but he really prefers my flesh. Just to gnaw a little, not to break skin, but those teeny tiny kitten teeth are like needles. Sometimes when he’s really excited, I have to remove myself from the room so he can calm down. I can’t get mad, he’s just doing kitten stuff, and I know I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to discourage this. Plus, even if I did get angry, he’d just crawl next to me for a sweet snuggle and all would be forgiven.
Inside and out holds danger for my skin. I won’t be defeated. I will remember to have the pink dragon nearby when playing with the
Tasmanian Devil kitty, and I will remember to dunk myself in peppermint oil or insect repellent when venturing out of doors. I will also look up diet changes I may be able to do to make my blood less delicious. There might be something that doesn’t involve nixing the spinach. I will find a way to be less desirable – at least to biting insects and teething kittens.