Wheeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnn! For the love of God, help me sleep through the night.
March 28, 2006 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Bloody mosquitoes, trying to suck my blood, why won't you just let me get a good night's sleep?

So here's the thing: The more the weather warms up, the more I wake up in the middle of the night with burning red bumps on my hands, arms, feet, and it takes a while to fall back asleep. Even when the nasty little fuckers don't bite me, sometimes I'll be awakened at 4 in the a.m. by that awful wheeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnn noise in my ear. I've started sleeping as much under the comfortor as possible, with only my eyes and mouth exposed, but too often I get hot (sleep hot, you know?) and kick off the covers. Please, somebody, help me get a good night's sleep. It's only going to get worse in the next couple of months. Here's what you need to know:

1) I find it almost impossible to sleep without a window open, so shutting them out isn't a good option. (It's a fresh, cool air thing, ya dig?)
2) I'm not sure a mosquito net will be a good option, as I have very high ceilings and a chandelier directly where a net would have to hang.
3) The people I'm subletting from left behind something made by Raid, a clear bottle of liquid that screws into an electrical device that one then plugs into a power outlet. Not sure what the stuff is, but the idea of airborne poison as I'm sleeping kind of freaks me out. Does the stuff work, and is it safe?

More details, to help you help me: I'm living in Mexico City, moved here about 5 months ago. Altitude is about 7,400 feet, so I'm not in the tropics. Hottest season is apparently around late April to mid-June; then the rainy season begins, when apparently I can expect daily thunderstorms and downpours until, say, August. My apartment is three floors up, with French doors in the bedroom opening onto a small balcony. There are no nearby parks or ponds, but I do have some potted plants on the terrace. Could they be breeding grounds for the skeeters, and should I get rid of them?
posted by donpedro to Home & Garden (25 answers total)
Eliminate any free standing sources of water that would allow breeding and get the net.
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:44 PM on March 28, 2006

you need one of those bed net things, they are amazing. Barring that, you maybe could put screens on your windows. Barring that, sleeping with the fan on high will often create enough of a wind tunnel that it's hard for them to touch down on you.
posted by jessamyn at 6:48 PM on March 28, 2006

Response by poster: The only freestanding water here is in the toilet. I do water the plants outside on the balcony & at times the soil is moist, though not swampy.
posted by donpedro at 6:48 PM on March 28, 2006

Response by poster: Ooh, I might be able to rig up a couple of those net models. I like the fan idea too.
posted by donpedro at 6:50 PM on March 28, 2006

I find it almost impossible to sleep without a window open, so shutting them out isn't a good option. (It's a fresh, cool air thing, ya dig?)

Well, you mention that you're renting, but screens really do work.

You can also use mosquito netting in place of screens (i.e. to cover windows/the open french door) as well, which I've found to be much less cumbersome than just trying to cover the bed.

In general I've been much happier when I've turned my house into an exclusion zone, rather than trying to poison them all. Yeah, occasionally one slips through, but that's much more manageable than when you're completely open to the wild.
posted by tkolar at 6:55 PM on March 28, 2006

As someone who's last house was on reclaimed swamp in Australia, I'd suggest putting a bit more work into the mozzie net idea. There must be somewhere you could hang it. (I had a four-poster bed, so it wasn't much grief for me)

Mozzie nets rock, don't smell, don't require refills, don't require much effort once they're up, blah blah rave rave....
posted by pompomtom at 7:06 PM on March 28, 2006

Response by poster: Screens aren't an option unfortunately (In my former homes I've just put in kitty screens, even though I don't have a cat, and left the window open 24/7). The thing is that the only window is the french doors, seven feet high. Opening them and screening them with a net might work though.
posted by donpedro at 7:19 PM on March 28, 2006

Response by poster: And they're not bedbugs (thank god, I've heard horrifying stories out of NY). I hear them whine, and I know their battle cry.
posted by donpedro at 7:20 PM on March 28, 2006

You really only have three choices

1. physical barrier. either a bed net or a screen on the window.

2. chemical barrier: sleep in deet or try one of those other less effective radiator doodads.

3. environmental factors: if you have a fan it will keep them at bay, but you have to have it running on at least medium, which can be noisy. You can also lower the temperature of the room with an A/C, which will make the room less hospitable to mosquitos, but with your window wide open that doesn't look like a good solution.

Take your pick, I'd go with the bed netting...it's actually quite nice.
posted by furtive at 7:35 PM on March 28, 2006

They do make mesh screen doors - even for french doors (example) - if you decide to go that route.

'course, you could probably accomplish the same with any regular netting...
posted by sarahmelah at 7:53 PM on March 28, 2006

Take Vitamin B1. It won't get rid of them whining around, but after a month they won't be biting you anymore.
posted by azuma at 8:17 PM on March 28, 2006

definitely go with a bed net. nothing else is going to keep them from getting near you. they have some great ones that dont hang from the ceiling so you wont have to worry about the chandelier.
posted by trishthedish at 8:48 PM on March 28, 2006

Another endorsement for netting.

It can be a bit of a hassle setting it up, but once it's hung properly no other solution compares. In fact it's kinda fun to gloat as the skeeters congregate on the surface on the netting, unable to get to you.
posted by randomstriker at 9:19 PM on March 28, 2006

Azuma, can you give a little bit more information on the B1 idea?
posted by sic at 10:28 PM on March 28, 2006

My wife lived in Central America and said it was generally the people who drank the local cheap beer in the evening that had less of a problem with mosquitoes. Worth considering.

Also if you can take it, you may want to try burning some incense. Not sure how long you can get it to last. It worked far better than any citronella around our outdoor hot tub. The smoke particles or chemistry plays havoc with the ability of the mosquitoes to detect the CO2.
posted by rolypolyman at 10:34 PM on March 28, 2006

I finally gave up here in Korea last summer and got a net. Even with screens, one or two would inevitably get into the house, and even with citronella spray and vitamin B and all, they'd inevitably divebomb my head at 4 in the damn morning. The net let me sleep, finally -- we hung it, four corners, over our queensize bed, with hooks in the walls and thread out to them. It just works, even if it's not the prettiest solution.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:53 PM on March 28, 2006

Take Vitamin B1. It won't get rid of them whining around, but after a month they won't be biting you anymore.
- posted by azuma

Iv'e heard rumors that some kind of vitamin deters the bastards. I've also heard that garlic pills work, but makes you stink a bit.

Personally, I love the smell of garlic.
posted by SwingingJohnson1968 at 11:38 PM on March 28, 2006

As someone who has lived in many mosquito-infested locales, I can confidently say that there isn't anything you can ingest that reliably repels mosquitos. Vitamin B1, beer, garlic...all those are old-wives tales.
posted by randomstriker at 12:50 AM on March 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

By the way, I find that anti-histamine pills like Claritin, Reactine, etc and their generic equivalents are great for relieving the itching/swelling after you've been bitten.
posted by randomstriker at 12:56 AM on March 29, 2006

Well, have you thought of perhaps replacing the comforter with a simple sheet? That should eliminate the hotness issues, for a start. Otherwise, some great ideas posted in here.
posted by antifuse at 2:17 AM on March 29, 2006

i've used the raid thing in the past. it works, but gave me a runny nose. i found that i could reduce the symptoms by connecting it to a timer and running it for much less time (an hour from 9 to 10pm, then 30mins every couple of hours).

you can also get other products - the "spirals" that you burn work and don't affect me the same way, but they're more expensive and don't last a full night.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:53 AM on March 29, 2006

I've spent much time in the tropics and northern Canada and have tried all the vitamin/food tricks -- no luck.

Also, is Mexico City a malarial zone? Are there other arboviruses about? That might put some emphasis on your plans.
posted by docgonzo at 4:43 AM on March 29, 2006

Take a bath just before laying down. Mosquitoes locate bloodsources because they are oily wet and hot (yeah... wet and hot...).

Pure water evaporates easily and makes your skin cool. Sweat doesn't evaporate, and makes your skin oily wet.

The trick is to take a bath JUST before sleep. You trade the sweat/oiliness for pure water (even if you dry up there'll be some residual water left), which will make your skin cool and dry. So, no mosquitoes when you go to sleep.

Now, if you sweat _during_ sleep, get a fan, or something that'll avoid that. Oh yeah, a fan ventilating directly on you also keeps mosquitoes away, but it takes a while to get used to it, if you don't already do it.

I DO live in the tropics, and since I started doing these things, I have taken no more than a couple bites per month.
posted by qvantamon at 7:02 AM on March 29, 2006

Take a bath just before laying down. Mosquitoes locate bloodsources because they are oily wet and hot (yeah... wet and hot...).

Well, mostly they find food sources by carbond dioxied.

If I were in your position, I'd first try putting netting over the window/door and then try posions/repellants.
posted by delmoi at 7:35 AM on March 29, 2006

Response by poster: Well, this has scrolled off the page, but in case anyone's still around just wanted to say thanks for the answers. I think I'm going to take a closer look at netting, either the bed or the doorway. Cheers, all.
posted by donpedro at 9:28 AM on March 29, 2006

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