The Thorn of My Island Rose

“If you think you are too small to make a difference,

try sleeping with a mosquito.”

– the Dalai Lama

Totally catch your drift, Dalai Lama. Might I also add: or try working at your desk; or try doing yoga/exercising; or try eating; or try watching a movie; or try, you know, anything. Spend any time in the Caribbean and you will realize deeply that no matter how small, the presence of a single mosquito most definitely does make a difference. Well, at least for some of us, that is.

Island life = perpetual itchiness

Island life = a state of perpetual itchiness

There are two kinds of island people: those who are effected by mosquito bites and the lucky souls who are not. I am the kind who is, and my boyfriend, David, is not. Therefore, while he is a reasonably empathetic person, he is unable to relate to the unrelenting exasperation that mosquitoes bring to my life. And while I would never wish anything horrible upon him, I do yearn that for just one damn day, he could experience what it’s like to be so f*cking itchy all the time. Then he would perhaps understand the zeal with which I wield my electrocution racket and not get quite as perturbed by The Crazy blazing behind my pupils.

We recently had some long overdue rains and while the dry cisterns and island foliage are grateful, the rain also hatched a plague of mosquitoes in its wake*. The swarms of mosquitoes that surround me each time I go outdoors are outrageous, to say the very least. The rise in their population feels so ridiculously unreasonable, like something out of a Hitchcock movie. The kind of unreasonable where you can do nothing but raise your hands heavenward and scream, Why, God, why??!!!!  My body (which includes my face, just FYI) is covered in red blotches – bumps that urgently demand to be scratched, yet in unjust irony, once they are scratched, there isn’t any relief, they just get itchier.

I'm looking Woogie-like these days...

I’m looking Woogie-like these days…

*Fun factoid: mosquito eggs can withstand the harshest of conditions and have the ability to lay dormant for months if the site they were laid upon dries out. Once they are moistened again with water – ie. rain – they’re reactivated to hatch and grow into the bloodsucking bastards we all hate.

Forgive me, as I know we have lamented the mosquito issue before on this site here, here, here, here, and even here. But the fact of the matter is that mosquitoes are a pervasive part of island living, one that rears its intolerable head in waves, reminding you that you will never be free of their oppression and thus, we must all chime in again from time to time.

You can't run, you can't hide...

You can’t run, you can’t hide…

And yes, I’ve heard and tried nearly all the suggestions to repel them, though many I can’t/choose not to partake in. For one, I switched years ago to using more natural products and refuse to succumb to the most wicked of toxins such as OFF!, especially since I live here fulltime and don’t consider it a permanent lifestyle change I’m willing to make. Did you know that 60% of what you put ON your body goes INTO your body? Yeah. So chemicals that melt plastic are not something I’m ok with rubbing on my skin. Additionally, I have adopted three toucans as pets and they have incredibly sensitive respiratory systems, so airborne sprays such as Lysol, Baygon, Citronella candles, etc. are off limits, as they would kill them. Besides, I don’t want that poison in my lungs anyway either.

So, I’m left with the basics for protection: gin w/ an essential oil blend, clothing, screens, outdoor zapper machines, monitoring of standing water, and my trusty electric rackets. Feeling particularly forlorn the other day, I came to the realization of just how much mosquitoes (and their punk ass cousins, the sand fleas/flies/no-see-ums) shape my day-to-day existence to the brink of neuroticism:

  • My electrocution rackets are my most prized possessions. I have one in every room of my house (I mean it – the bathrooms, the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom, the office – I am fully covered), and I never leave the screened-in safety of the indoors without one within arm’s reach. Though I wish there was an easier way to make the racket more socially acceptable to carry in public. I spend considerable mental time wondering why no one has invented a purse-sized version and contemplating that if it was scientifically possible to replace one of my hands with a racket, could I realistically do it? My current hands are terrible at catching mosquitoes, thus rendering them near useless to me as a pair.
My Precious

My Precious

  • I have gorgeous vistas around and near my house that look (in photos) like the most ideal, serene place you could dream up for yoga. However, though I do yoga every day, I never use them because my current level of zen is not strong enough to overcome the incessant buzzing in my ears as I practice.
  • I never go anywhere without my jar of Tiger Balm Ultra (which I buy in bulk), the only solution I’ve ever found that minimizes the itching.
  • I have to go outside five times per day at length to care for my toucans that live in outdoor aviaries. When I do so, I’m like a sitting duck for mosquitoes and though it is 80+ degrees outside, I dress in socks, boots, long pants, and a thick sweatshirt to make it even remotely bearable. And they still bite any exposed parts such as my hands, neck, and face. I have plans on my next visit to somewhere with a mall to find myself some turtlenecks. Seriously.
My toucan time skeeter battle costume

My toucan time skeeter battle costume

  • I am a tyrant about my screen doors, obsessively following visitors around, closing doors before they can even get their bodies all the way in or out. It’s obnoxious. I’m not sure why people even visit me anymore.
  • My compulsion to kill all the mosquitoes gets intense at times (an understatement), and seems to be a major outlet for any latent anger I carry. I have scared a few people with my murderous fervor and have broken 3 wine glasses, 1 coffee mug, and a jar to date due to my deranged, single-minded swinging of my racket.
  • I often stay holed up inside during times I’d rather be outdoors, staring longingly at how nice it looks outside, but I am stopped in my tracks by the hordes of mosquitoes hovering outside my screen door.
Screened-in entrapment

Screened-in entrapment

  • I will avoid certain restaurants/bars at certain times of the day due to them being notoriously buggy, no matter how good their happy hour is.
  • Whenever I see beautiful photos on Instagram of people enjoying the great outdoors, all I can think about it is, how is that person not being eaten alive? How can they look so serene outdoors at sunset? 
  • Every time I make plans to go anywhere during the deadly hours of dawn and dusk, it is always a toss up about how I should dress, weighing the lesser of two evils – would I rather be uncomfortably hot and sweaty, or itchy and angry?


I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you further whining. Every rose has its thorn. When it comes to island life, mosquitoes and sand flies are the thorniest of thorns for me. Most of the time, I feel like it’s still worth it to live here and deal with them. Most of the time. Perhaps it’s a part of the Buddhist training I never signed up for – a daily battle that requires monumental control to not lose my shit over. It helps to gripe about it sometimes. Thanks for listening. The comments section below is yours to gripe in, if ya need it.

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Chrissann Nickel

About Chrissann Nickel

Chrissann’s home rock in the British Virgin Islands, against all logic, feels bigger to her than it actually is. Though after spending five years on a teensy one acre island, the current 13-mile long rock she’s residing on now IS ginormous, at least by comparison. As with everything in the Caribbean, it’s all about perspective.

Once upon a time she used to care about things like matching her purse to her pumps, but these days, she’s a card-carrying member of the Barefoot Nation. She is utterly enchanted with vinyasa yoga, especially when practiced on somewhat precarious, deliciously Instagram-able surfaces (she's @WomanOnARock) such as paddleboards, boats, cliffs, or even the occasional willing friend’s body. She vehemently believes that toucans are the best animals ever (period.) and there is no convincing her otherwise (though imperious roadside goats come in as a close second).

As the Editor in Chief of this site, she spends a lot of her time working from home all by her lonesome writing, editing, and cultivating content designed to make her fellow islanders laugh. Besides her writerly pursuits, she moonlights as a yoga instructor, and attributes at least a smidge of her insanity to the amount of time she spends talking to drunk people. If you’re somehow still reading this and feel inclined to find out more about this “Chrissann” of which we speak, you can also take a gander at her eponymous personal website,

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34 thoughts on “The Thorn of My Island Rose

  1. The mosquitos here on Grand Bahama are an issue at certain times, BUT the NO-SEE-UMS… they are the bane of my exsistance!!!! When we first came moved here, a little over 2 years ago, I looked like I had a bad case of the measles! Then, a lot of Bahamians said that they used Avon’s “Skin So Soft”. I have to say it does work! The key to it is to put it on with a spray bottle. You feel incredibly oily and you end up with dead bugs sticking to you, but at least you don’t get the bites or the itchy’s!!! Plus as a bonus my skin has never been softer! 🙂 We give a bottle of Skin So Soft to all of our guests that come here for vacation. It seems to work for everyone!

  2. Before moving to St. Croix, I always got all the bites and they didn’t bother my hub. at ALL. Now the tables have turned and I am blithely unaware of the hordes of mosquitoes and my husband is getting bites-bites-bites. I am sympathetic but secretly pleased that he is now seeing first-hand what I’ve bitched about for so many years. I know he always thought I was a) exaggerating, b) wimpy c) a drama major. I do try not to a) smirk b) roll my eyes c) be dismissive, because I do know how miz it is. Maybe I should get him a racquet for his birthday?

    • I didn’t know that could even happen, Desire!! Now I can dream that one magical day, I will no longer be effected by the bites. Sounds incredible. Though you’re a better woman than me – I, too, think my boyfriend often thinks I’m being overly dramatic about the bites and probably wouldn’t hesitate to dish it back his direction were the tables ever to turn for us lol 😉

  3. I used to be devoured by mozzies but since I started taking vit B (52) they leave me alone. So do the noseeums – well, except for in Florida – the ones there are relentless. Give it a try. It might work AND you’ll have more energy!

  4. If you can get hold of it out there I can reccomend Indian Aztec clay mixed with a drop of apple cider vinegar to take away the itch and swelling, all natural and great for face too! 🙂

  5. LOL! Oh dear! I know the feeling well. We had rains for the first time in weeks last week and the eggs hatched in droves. I have two fans going constantly, plus mosquito repellant coils by the dozen. Yet still I’m the only one they choose to nibble.

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