Help me find this $&^# mosquito
November 10, 2012 6:29 AM   Subscribe

On Monday night, I woke up to a mosquito buzzing in my ear and two giant bites. Since then, it's terrorized me all week. I have trouble sleeping anyway, and being woken up by this thing is not helping. Early this morning, I saw it perched on the wall (after getting yet another giant, swelling bite on my cheek), and tried to swat it, but missed. Help! How can I track it down in my studio apartment today? And how can I make sure to kill it when I find it?
posted by three_red_balloons to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Sporting goods stores sell mosquito nets you can wear over your head (in case you can't kill it)
posted by victory_laser at 6:38 AM on November 10, 2012

I would be extremely surprised to find that that was the same mosquito. They don't live that long so chances are that your nemesis is already buzzed off.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:42 AM on November 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Clear window fly traps help me catch the occasional insect.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:00 AM on November 10, 2012

Question 1: apart from sitting on walls, they like to hang on lower edges of bookshelves, loose-hanging electrical wires, lamps and so on. Think Mosquito: they want to be as invisible as possible but not in a tight corner where it may get dangerous. Usually they just sit someplace around the corner.
Raking light (use a pocket lamp) reveals them even on color-wise difficult surfaces (how many nights of my youth...!?).

Question 2: you need a fly swatter of a more or less square shape (so no funny fly-shaped ones. You want to be able to make clean hits in corners, for example) that features a reasonably long handle for better acceleration. And you will have to work up your skills. It being a life-and-death matter on the receiving end, your task is not easy (but definitely doable). Approach the beast from the head-end; many are hard-wired to be extra alert for things coming from behind. Exercise by hitting raisins or almonds left in funny places around the house. It's a Zen thing.

For plan B, definitely as victory_laser suggests. Actually: mosquito net around your bed. I always thought it's only my dad who uses one of these, but when I last visited my hipster daughter, same thing. She even had a second one that I could borrow. Pure bliss.

I would not be surprised if its the same mosquito. It likely lived extra long just for the kicks. They do such stuff, you know.
posted by Namlit at 7:04 AM on November 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Mosquitos are attracted to the carbon dioxide in your breath.

One thing I do to trap them when it's 2 am & oh-god-the-buzzing-make-it-stop hits is to stand with one ear against a wall and then exhale along the wall as hard as I can. This often lures the mosquito close enough for me to swat at it.
posted by belladonna at 7:13 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've never actually tried this DIY soda bottle mosquito trap which relies on fermentation to generate C02 and a funnel to lure them in, but the concept seems plausible. I know some people who swear by the outdoor propane-powered ones which operate on the the same principle.
posted by usonian at 7:21 AM on November 10, 2012

Hairspray. If it's moving too fast to swat it when you DO find it, spray it with hairspray. It'll slow the little guy down enough to swat it properly.
posted by mochapickle at 7:26 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you all! I've read that mosquitoes can live two weeks, and I definitely can't survive that long. These are great suggestions.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:33 AM on November 10, 2012

Also, as a veteran mosquito hunter with several high profile kills to me name, first thing in the morning is a great time to hunt. It's light. They're feeling dopey. You're not.

Also: their all time favourite places to hide are the bottoms of curtains.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:40 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are few things in live as satisfying as nailing one of those suckers. (I use a very slightly damp dish towel, but am an old hand with a whip and with a fly rod. Few escape my wrath! ) The 'raking' light source is a good idea for walls (from namlit). Useful technique to use on any flat surface where contrast enhancement is needed.
posted by FauxScot at 7:44 AM on November 10, 2012

Rubbing alcohol is great for insect killing. Kills quickly and evaporates quickly without residue.

I use a spray bottle of 91% rubbing alcohol. For mosquitoes, I use an unfocused, diffuse spray; that way I don't have to be precise and even if they flee I can still catch 'em with the edge spray. For maximum satisfaction, mash 'em once you've shot them down.

(Bonus knowledge: Roaches require a focused, heavy spray pattern.)
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:02 AM on November 10, 2012 [13 favorites]

This is off label, but you can get a mosquito coil (looks like this) and burn one in your bedroom for a few minutes. Mosquito coils are designed to be used outdoors, but we used to use them to "smoke out" indoor spaces (tents) in a controlled way to get rid of mosquitos that would keep us from sleeping. It's like very thick, green incense. The smoke is poison to a wide variety of bugs and will kill pretty much everything. You'll find your friend on the floor in short order. You probably don't need to keep it burning longer than 5-10 minutes. You don't need to burn the entire coil! That would take hours. You wouldn't even need an inch.

That will definitely fix the problem, but as I say, this is totally off-label use of the product and probably not very good for you. I've done it so many times I find the smell really pleasant at this point, but I know that's just me.

You will probably have many healthier options, but this one will definitely work.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:08 AM on November 10, 2012

I've found that plug-in insecticide vapourizers work well.
posted by pont at 8:14 AM on November 10, 2012

Easiest way to kill any flying bastard in your home: windex. Set the spray to a tight stream, and when you see the bugger hit it with the windex from afar. It impedes their ability to fly, so once they drop to the ground or start crawling on the wall, get some paper towel and crush them with great satisfaction.
Used this technique with immense results on a fly infestation in our house - 20+ flies dead every hour, easily.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 8:31 AM on November 10, 2012

This is tangential to your question OP, but I hope that it will serve you well in the future, as this knowledge has changed my life: flies, when they take off from a surface, jump up backwards. So when you come at them, you must come from a diagonal angle from behind. My kill rate is near 100% with this method, even for the super fast ones. Whether this is also true for mosquitoes I don't know but it is worth trying - a brief Google suggests it is true for most flying insects.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:45 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

If I am being attacked at night, I get up, turn the lights on and use the fly swat tool to smack all of the dark areas in the room such as the closet and the undersides of the furniture in the room. They love dark cloth areas. They come flying out of the dark area, and land up near the ceiling. Smack attack. Good luck.
posted by effluvia at 8:56 AM on November 10, 2012

nthing the use of some kind of spray bottle. It's like using a sawed-off shotgun on the little bastards. Of course you have to find them first, but the spray works whether they're sittting on a surface or in flight. I like water because it doesn't smell which is good if you're using it around your bed, but in a pinch Windex will do. Take it from me, you don't want to use the mildew remover.

You didn't ask about itch relief, but I came across this on the blue a little while back:

I tried it out recently. The linked comment says to use deodorant, but I just tried whatever we had in the bathroom (I had enough bites to try a several types).

I didn't get any relief using either of the two gel anti-perspirants we had (Right Guard and Almay), but the Old Spice stick anti-perspirant was miraculous. The swelling and itching abated within minutes, and after I hunted down and squished my nemesis I was actually able to get back to sleep without tearing my skin off.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:56 AM on November 10, 2012

I once lived in a mosquito-ridden apartment covered in highly-patterned wallpaper. The f*****s were invisible on that. But press the side of your face against the wall and sight them along the plane of the wall. Any pattern on the wallpaper fades to a blur and they stand out starkly in relief. Then you need to hit them with something big, because before your weapon of choice actually connects with them they will have sensed what's up and flown off at least a few centimetres. I used a pillow for that purpose. You can chuck a pillow straight up to kill a mosquito on the ceiling, too.
posted by londongeezer at 9:56 AM on November 10, 2012

Update: the mosquito is now trapped between the sliding glass door out to my balcony and the screen door. I'd love to try to smash it (no, I'm not normally this violent), but I've decided the safest course for now is just to keep the door shut. Possibly until it dies on its own.
posted by three_red_balloons at 11:37 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use the CO2 method, as well. Sit quietly, blow out towards wherever I think the little bastidge is, and it will come out. The skeeters in this area are not fast, and I can usually clap it.
posted by theora55 at 2:01 PM on November 10, 2012

Is there any reason why you can't give either the room or apartment a good fogging with a low-toxicity bug spray (I use a Ecalyptus/Pyrethrum one) before leaving for work and then just airing the place out on your return?
posted by ninazer0 at 4:31 PM on November 10, 2012

In the mean time, I've found that earplugs help with the buzzing.
posted by kdar at 7:17 PM on November 10, 2012

...the safest course for now is just to keep the door shut. Possibly until it dies on its own.
Usually, hundreds come to the funeral. Be wary.
posted by Namlit at 12:39 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

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