17 June 2011

Russia Mosquito Report


Valery Chaliy, sculptor, Mosquito, Lata, Russia.

The mosquitoes, комары, are overwhelming Tverskaya!

For me there is no better place to read a book than in a good folding chair under the apple trees.  It is something I relish and look forward to with happy anticipation every summer.

But this year has been the worst for mosquitoes and vicious midges 1. since we first visited Zaloz’ye 10 years ago. Up the road, which tends toward marsh, some  villagers have long had lots of mosquitos.  Now we have hordes too.

Also we have a new nasty variety of biting midges which attack when tall grass is cut, or when your face is close to soil when gardening.  They attack in aggressive swarms.  What’s surprising is that their bites are more like miniature razor slashes than pin pricks.  Irritated red welts result.

Maybe the insects are prevalent because of global warming, the same reason some have advanced for the many fires last year in Russian peat bogs and forests.

An American student and an Indian Swami said...

Sarah just a month ago posted a great blog entry from Kaluga, southwest of Moscow, about mosquitos there, and earlier in Kazan. I Haven’t Slept in Two Days is worth your visit!

An Indian Swami on a recent July 2 said...

One thing I noticed about Syktyvkar was the mosquitoes! When we left on the 24th morning they had taken over the airport, and it was practically impossible to avoid being bitten several times. Actually the most powerful mosquitoes in Russia, and maybe the world, are the Siberian mosquitoes, who are relentless in their pursuit of blood, but their Syktyvkar brothers did very well for themselves that morning. It was something like a Food for Life programme for them!

Brewer’s Yeast and Insect Shield clothes...


Fanatical mosquito fighter in Zaloz’ye

Years ago I was an enthusiastic gardener in Lebanon NJ.  I had  no trouble with mosquitos and gnats... I think because of my diet... no sugar, very little salt, and 2-3 times a day I drank brewer’s yeast in water.  Others in the family would come out to see how I was doing, but needed to leave quickly because of the mosquitos. 

Try to avoid using DEET.  Citronella oil is a good option for on-the-skin protection. 

The chemical industry pushed DEET and talks down natural alternatives as they are in the mosquito field for the Almighty Dollar. 

Skeeters have more trouble finding you if you wear light-shade clothing.  Insect Shield Premethrin-treated clothing is worth considering.

2. Premethrin is a chemical formula based on repellant property of chrysanthemums.  It’s used in and on clothes, but dangerous if put directly on the skin.

Cover yourself with long sleeves, pants, good socks, maybe a light scarf, and a wide brim hat.  We have a net jungle hat that I wear when reading if it’s a bad mosquito day.  Also, remember, if you are sweaty, mosquitos will bite you more.

Most women in our village have terrible bites on their legs as their culture wins over reason and they wear dresses while gardening.

I’ve been bitten!

Put some deodorant on bites.  Or, rub the inside of a banana skin there... but – an irony – don’t eat the banana, as mosquitoes are attracted to their smell.  Some people claim mouth wash kills the itch.

An ice cube works well.  Also, don’t scratch where the bite is, but as I do with poison ivy, nearby.

Russian Window Catch 22.

Russians love the great outdoors when outside, but like to keep it there.  Like some other nationalities, particularly German, they do not want or enjoy a lot of fresh air from windows.  Many abhor cross-drafts, the fearsome сквоздняк!

Windows are more for light than to be opened for air.  Since windows are mainly kept shut, people don’t see a need for screens.  Air conditioning isn’t considered healthy. 

If you want the wide open feeling of America you face the option of a hot stuffy room or one that is ventilated but mosquito-full!

Travel tip! 

A plug-in humidor for killing mosquitoes is essential.

We are fans of a plugin device in which you slide a cartridge soaked with Prallethrin.  In Russia each humidor costs around $3, while in the USA they cost around twice as much.

After a few hours any mosquitos in the room are dead.  One cartridge works 2 or 3 nights for us.  We have quite a collection of unused cartridges, as we buy some every year, and forget how many we have already accumulated.

Applying your mosquito killing skills.

You can gain a lot of unspoken respect in a Russian village if you kill mosquitoes casually with one hand.  Grab one midair, close your fist, and move your fingers around.  When you open the hand there’s a 50% chance there’s a dead mosquito.

Or, pinch them against the curtain, window, or screen.  Try to not leave signs of a mosquito massacre.  A broad hand is more successful.  Also you can catch them by lifting your hand from below.

Walking around inside during the day, we watch for mosquitos, and go to them before they come to us!    Before we hit the bed, I check the windows and curtains for more prey.

A Russian attitude towards organization... and the mosquito.



Photo in jar of the large mosquito which can transmit malaria parasites to humans.  Robert MacDonald


Just in the last few days in Zaloz’ye I’ve seen three malaria mosquitoes in the house.  These large insect vectors are capable of carrying the malaria parasite to humans.  It’s very unlikely they have the parasite, but still when people see these long legged antropods, they are concerned.

Americans are quick to organize to combat a problem.  Prevention is a holy word to them.  But Russians prefer not to anticipate a problem, as it’s vaguely considered bad luck. 

Here people are more likely to wait until a situation is in full force, and then try to deal with it.  Therefore, it’s unlikely you will find any Mosquito Control Commissions operating in Russia as they do in the counties of New Jersey.  As with many such situations in Russia, you are on your own.

Some things get better with time...

Picasa Content

Since I started writing about skeeters, it has turned colder and windier.  Our neighbor says that the problem will disappear in a month... with or without action.  What we need to remember is the traditional Russian virtue of терпание... patience!

Write a comment and tell us a mosquito story!



  1. That long-leged fellow is harmless creature, it even don't suck blood.
    Alas, malaria mosquitos look virtually as "usual" ones.

  2. Well there are 3500 species of mosquitoes, 41 genera, and of these only the female genus anopheles, which has 430 species worldwide, can transmit malaria. Illustrations show the long-legged type, but you raised an interesting point. Maybe some of the 430 anopheles species look and act like regular mosquitoes!

  3. My (Russian) husband and I actually met hiding from mosquitoes 20 years ago this month! Very romantic, although we don't try to recreate it on a regular basis or anything!

  4. Thats long-legged one is not Anopheles, its Tipulidae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crane_fly).


Comments, Questions, Ideas