Ain’t No Bugs On Me

In Italy, mosquitos are called “zanzare.” I learned that once and never forgot. In Spain, mosquitos are called “mosquitos.” You’d think that would be easy to remember, but it took me the better part of a year. Fly in Spanish is “mosca.” I think that added to my confusion.


Anyway, I’m allergic to bee stings. Deathly allergic. I’m also allergic to other insect bites, but just locally (so far). And there may be some correlation between my allergy and my attractiveness to biting insects. I’m the perfect insect repellant — for everyone else in the vicinity. If I’m in a room with 10 people and one mosquito, the other 10 people will probably be safe. On the other side is San Geraldo, who can watch a mosquito bite him and have absolutely no reaction.


I swell and itch, sometimes for weeks. Spanish mosquitos seem to be a little less cruel to my immune system. I only swell and itch for days, not weeks. Fortunately, since leaving Connecticut in 1993, San Geraldo and I have not lived in environments with quite the abundance of mosquitos. Still, if there’s one around it’s bound to find me and only me. Lately I’ve been awakened during the night to find I’ve been scratching a new bite. Sometimes, there’s a little buzzing near my ear. But these Spanish mosquitos don’t seem to alight as readily and even the cats give up on catching them.


Recently, I had a few sleepless nights in the company of a mosquito and, given my already dismal mood, I sure didn’t need to add lack-of-sleep to my reasons to be miserable. So now I’ve got some handy insect repellant bedside. The fragrance isn’t all that bad or all that strong. I’ve gone two days without a new mosquito bite. And, unlike the poor sand hound currently lounging on the nearby beach, I’m not home to an entire flea circus.

Another Old Story of the Saint
Our first summer living together, San Geraldo and I had an un-air-conditioned apartment in Beacon Hill, Boston. The window screens were old and frayed and not of much use. One night, San Geraldo awoke to the sound of a mosquito flying around the bedroom. In the heat — and as is my usual preference anyway — I was lying on top of the sheets totally nude. I was sound asleep. The always thoughtful (although perhaps not always thinking) San Geraldo did not want my sleep (nor my next two weeks) ruined by the mosquito, so, careful to not disturb my sleep, he got out of bed and retrieved the mosquito repellant (Deep Woods OFF!) from the bathroom. Without making a sound, he stood at the foot of the bed and sprayed.

The first ice-cold burst hit my bare butt. I yowled and flew straight into the air like some cartoon character. Once I landed, I turned to find San Geraldo still standing at the foot of the bed, still holding the can of spray aimed in my direction. He had the abashed expression of a four-year-old who didn’t mean to do it and had just learned a really valuable lesson.

“Oops?” was all he said.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

26 thoughts on “Ain’t No Bugs On Me”

  1. That sand sculpture is something else!!
    I know of what you speak, Mitch. I am Ron's insect (black fly, mosquito) repellent…..and any body else's who is near!
    However, I do not react to the bites as you do. They just LOVE me. I have found the perfect 'itch soother'….tea tree oil. A little dab will take the itch away immediately, for me.
    I know you joke a bit about this but I also know the seriousness too. A friend has to carry his EpiPen every where he goes.
    What do you use/have on your bedside table to repel the mosquitoes?
    Hilarious story at the end……now that you have us visualizing all over the place!! lol

    1. Jim:
      I'll have to try tea tree oil. (I feel like I've tried everything else.) I bought a repellant called Cusitrín. So far so good. I've tried just about everything in the USA on that score as well. I'm supposed to keep my EpiPen with me at all times. It expired last year and I still haven't replaced it with the Spanish version. Living life on the edge.

  2. Sorry, Mitch, but that is the funniest thing I have heard all day. Bless San Geraldo for trying to do the right thing!

  3. Oh, my goodness, I know your suffering with Mr. Mosquitoe! Same problem here. I hate them, they always attack me, and the bites puff up and itch for days and days. Have you ever tried a Benadryl lotion stick? or just the little bottle with Benadryl gel? It has been a lifesaver for me — I always have one with me over the summer. I rub it on the bite and the allergic reaction is totally tamed. Usually, no puffing, no itching. Try one if you can find one in Spain. Here's what it looks like.

  4. I'm lucky – only ever reacted to being bitten once in recent years, and that by a clegg. My hand swelled up to cartoon-size, I didn't need a foam hand to support my local team.

    I've stopped sleeping nude though these days; it used to send the budgerigar into paroxysms of hysterical laughter and I couldn't sleep. If we weren't so close I'd just move the budgie's cage out of the bedroom.

    1. Ian:
      I had to look up "cleg." Horse-fly! Painful bite. I remember those from years back on the beaches of NEW England (the colonists I'm sure brought them over).

      Just send the budgie here for a good laugh. I've got no shame… well, a little.

  5. I can easily picture you jumping up from sleep after being sprayed. I also have a problem with insects. My body temperature is a degree warmer than most people and the bugs always come to me.

  6. This reminds me of a joke I heard once. To wit: Only the female mosquito bites, in order to form eggs for reproduction. The male does not need to feed (only to breed). But, the male, in order to breed, needs to make a buzzing sound to attract the female. She, on the other hand, is silent in flight.

    So… if you are lying in bed at night and you hear that familiar buzzing, don't worry. It's a male and he doesn't bite.

    But, if you hear nothing…

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      First… I love the new photo! Very GQ.

      I've also been told often that only female mosquitos bite and only male mosquitos buzz. It turns out to be partially true. Only female mosquitos bite; they need protein for their eggs and they get it from blood. However, both males and females buzz; that's the sound of the wings beating (300-600 times per second).

  7. Hi Mitch:
    See, you're still not getting it…moscas…(female) they annoy you, pester you, then contaminate everything they touch…but mosquitos (masculine) they will annoy, pester and bite you and the bite might contain some deadly disease. Is that clear now? lol


  8. Commiserations about the mosquitoes. They love my warm body temp too but fortunately I don't react to the bites for more than a day or two. Thanks for the San Geraldo story – I nearly spilled my coffee!

    1. Judith:
      Glad you didn't spill your coffee. Be prepared. I have 31+ years of San Geraldo stories. Just when I think I've told them all, another one comes to mind. And of course he keeps providing new ones.

  9. I wonder if allergic people smell better to the bugs that like to sting them?! 🙂 Glad you've found some mosquito relief! Love the sand sculpture of the dog.

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