One of the more perplexing aspects of living in El Gouna on the Red Sea in Egypt is having to deal with the Mozzie Situation. What you must realize is that these untrustworthy, and highly deceptive mozzies will try almost any sneaky, dangerous and underhanded tactic in order to threaten your way of life. It is for that reason that you must be firm and resolute in sikhing to it that your priorities always come first, no matter the consequences.
Before advising you of my progress with my personal war on mosquitoes at my rental, let me first identify the enemy, which is always the female of the species, as male skeeters do not live long, and more importantly, do not bite humans.
There are four main types:
And then there’s this…
All four skeeter types (I am sure there are others around here) are potential vectors for horrible diseases, such as malaria, encephalitis, Dengue fever, and other infections. Therefore, it is important to know how to deal with this problem when moving to a house or apartment in El Gouna, particularly if the abode is not located in Abu Tig marina, which is windy, and has far less vegetation than elsewhere, and thus is not really a mozzie kind of place.
After two nights of attempting various maneuvers, I have found that the single most effective method of dealing with mosquitoes is killing them by hand. But timing is everything, as is the position of the sun,
It turns out that mosquitoes are most vulnerable at sunrise. If the house is mostly dark, but sunlight is streaming in from windows facing east, then I have found that mozzies will gravitate toward the light.
They tend to fly more slowly at dawn, for some reason, so it is easier to catch them.
This can be done by squashing them in mid-air by clapping your hands together. You can also squish them with the palm of your hand as they rest against a wall (which ideally would be white). And finally, you can also crush them with your palm as they rest on a screen window or front door screen; but this is more tricky, as you must take care not to damage the screen.
These techniques require good light, speed of hand, intense focus, quick synaptic triggering, and the ability to predict which direction the mozzie is likely fly to in order to evade your approaching hand. I have observed that while flying in mid-air they tend to dip down then up in a lazy circle. I have also noticed that if resting on a wall, they will usually fly to the left in an evasive maneuver when sensing an approaching hand or a “mitt” made of, say, a crumpled paper towel sheet, that is coming towards them from a rightward direction; the converse is also true.
It is crucial to buy a Mosinet or have a namoussiya (ie mosquito netting for the bed) installed where you intend to sleep. I have found the Mosinet to be 100 per cent effective; investing in one prior to arriving in El Gouna is a must if you are renting a villa or flat that does not have netting or has netting that is damaged (ie, tears that allow mozzies in).
Citronella incense sticks, Prallethrin mist vaporizers, Lemon Grass oil (which is remarkably useful in keep flies off you when you sit outside) are effective (up to a point: after 10PM the females will go into a frenzy in an attempt to suck your blood) in the early evening, as you deal with eradicating the mosquitoes in your house. I have also heard that camphor and lavender oil confuses the ability of these insects — whose eyesight is poor — to locate their prey.
It is also important the you keep any windows that have holes in the screens shut, particularly at night. Use a lot of garlic when cooking and you will notice they will avoid the kitchen. Make sure you flush every toilet in the house at least once a day, and do not leave bowls of standing water outside for your pet. Lastly, if you have a pool, make sure the water pump or filtering system is always on.
Mosquitoes are a serious problem in El Gouna. There are no anti mosquito fog trucks in this resort town; nor have are there any programs to breed native mozzies with a population eliminating gene — such as has been implemented with great success in other parts of the globe.
This means you are on your own,. I have found that after three days of using the techniques described above that I have eliminated 95% of the mosquitoes that were in the villa I am currently renting. This is an excellent kill ratio. However, I have been bitten several times: it is a good thing that I had the presence of mind to bring with me antibiotic cream to smooth over any such collateral damage.
PS You will probably also encounter large fleas, which are known as namoush in Egypt. These are more of an annoyance than anything else, and are very easy to squash when they are hiding and resting in the morning behind the TV or window curtains etc. However, they are almost impossible to catch in mid-air at night. Fleas are not likely to infect you, unless you’re hosting rats in your house, in which case you need to worry about getting the plague. This sounds rather Biblical, I know, but we are talking Egypt, as in you know, the plagues. I wouldn’t worry too much about this, though, or getting rabies from flying bats, if I were you, Speaking of Nimrata, sorry, I meant to say rats, here is my favorite Good Rats (a band from Long Island that almost made the big time) tune, from back in the day, when I commuted in rat-infested subways in Manhattan.