Fishing lines: Just call me the vampire slayer

The first mosquito of the season has just left her (the biters invariably being female) tattoo on my leg. From now until November, we re-enact a Lilliputian version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". The breeding colonies that have been lurking in my pond and the nearby river Ouse will sneak out under cover of darkness to feed on human flesh – which means me.

The first mosquito of the season has just left her (the biters invariably being female) tattoo on my leg. From now until November, we re-enact a Lilliputian version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". The breeding colonies that have been lurking in my pond and the nearby river Ouse will sneak out under cover of darkness to feed on human flesh – which means me.

Those who share this affliction will understand the unfairness of it all. My wife Riva awakes fragrant and unscarred. I look like God has remembered his plague-of-boils curse. And how do the little buggers burrow under the sheets to sip my blood?

If you fish, especially around dusk, this is a serious issue. It's hard to concentrate on float or fly when that high-pitched whine of a hovering mosquito starts (and even harder when it stops).

It's probably not coincidence that two tubes of goo arrived in the post this week, extolling their virtues as bug repellents. The problem is that there is only one way to test these things: going somewhere with a zillion biting insects and seeing how many come to the dinner party. There is clearly a valuable comparative test to be done here, but I'd rather be the air traffic controller than the landing strip.

I like the sound of "Bitefree", largely because it comes from Scotland, where midges can make summer fishing a misery. But the best deterrent, I've learnt, is to fish with those whose skin proves even more appetising than yours. One man stands head and shoulders above all others here: Danny, a carp fisher who joined my fruitless quest to catch arapaima in Ecuador.

Danny had fair, freckly skin. Bugs loved him. Now, a mosquito bite in the UK is irritating. In Ecuador it can mean malaria. And mosquitoes were only one problem. The jungle also boasted two-inch ants, aggressive wasps, blackfly, tapir fly, sandflies, assassin bugs, chiggers, ticks, botfly and something called tunga penetrans. (The botfly sounded particularly interesting. Its larvae bore into your skin, eat bits of you for 40 days or so, and pop out as inch-long maggots.)

One night, Danny failed to secure his mosquito net tightly. The next morning, we counted (fishing was pretty slow) 169 bites on one of his legs. Though we walked in the valley of the bugs, we feared no evil. I collected about 40 bites during the trip. Danny could notch up that by climbing out of his sleeping bag.

He may well be dead from any one of the appalling diseases that romp through the jungle, like leishmaniasis, Chaga's disease, onchocerciasis, dengue fever, cholera or rabies. He certainly returned with enough bites and scars to keep the Hospital for Tropical Diseases happy for years. It is true that he wasn't much of a companion: dour, selfish, gloomy. But you can forgive anyone who is willing to get bitten on your behalf.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past