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Zapping Bloodsuckers in Bangkok

Rain fell here for the first time in months yesterday, signaling a transition from Thailand's heavenly, cool dry season to a potentially hellish hot season. Through July, the forecast calls for sporadic showers, oppressive heat and drained sweat glands.

For me and my fellow mammals, this is kind of a bummer. But for our two-winged, blood-sucking, puddle-dwelling nemeses — the mosquitoes — life is looking up.

Even before yesterday's rain, I noticed their increased presence. I've seen more black specks zipping around overhead lights and more bite marks dotting my legs. I've heard that familiar sonic whine — seemingly inside my head —  startling me awake as I've tried to drift off to sleep.

But Thailand does not take the surge laying down. With this weapon, it takes the fight right to the enemy.

This is a rechargeable mosquito racket, found in practically every Thai home. Press a button on the handle and electricity surges through that metallic netting. If a mosquito nears, and your swing finds its mark, your airborne aggressor will fry and crackle in rapid bursts of blue light. And the air will smell of death.

Words cannot describe the satisfaction. Clearly, some inventor was cheated out of a Nobel prize.

When I first discovered this device, and brought one home, I treated it like a plutonium warhead. I was sure I would shock myself into a coma or at least set the curtains on fire. But after five minutes, I realized the current was only strong enough to kill insects — and that I could freely poke the netting to produce painless little sparks. Now, if I'm in bed and feel the slightest tingle on my arm hairs — a possible moquito attack — I will rub this thing on my skin like a cheese grater.

I leave you with a display of the mosquito racket in action. This racket is wielded by Tiew, a 15-year-old who lives in a small fishing village in Chantaburi province. Tiew works in a relative's guesthouse overlooking a swampy bay — lots of mosquitoes.

As part of his daily chores, he enters each room with his racket zapper and massacres untold numbers of mosquitoes. If this whole reporting gig falls apart, I'm going after his job.

 

http://www.globalpost.com/notebook/thailand/090303/zapping-bloodsuckers-bangkok