Cambodia offers an abundance of many things – exotic fruits, cheap food, historic temples, easy transportation. You’re never far from a fresh coconut stand. Restaurants with $3 entrees are everywhere. Finding an available tuk tuk driver, who will drive you to a cheap restaurant while you sip on that coconut, is always an easy process.
However, there’s one thing Cambodia possesses in great abundance that makes my skin crawl…or rather, makes things crawl on my skin. Bugs. Of particular nuisance and concern are the mosquitoes. Our time in Cambodia has altered my response to mosquitoes from that of periodic fleeting annoyance to constant visceral hatred.
I used to believe every insect held some ecological value, made some sort of contribution to the natural world benefiting us all. Bees pollinate stuff. Flies decompose stuff. Dung beetles rid the world of poo. Everything has a helpful purpose, right? Not really. In my recent quest to understand the value of mosquitoes (spoiler alert: there isn’t one), I found an article in Nature Magazine stating “The romantic notion of every creature having a vital place in nature may not be enough to plead the mosquito’s case.” They’re just teeny, tiny, bloodsucking predators existing for the sole purpose to piss us off and keep our numbers down.
All things mosquito-oriented have become part of our family’s daily routine – mosquito coils, mosquito netting, mosquito repellent. Whether I’m spraying my children down with some foul-smelling concoction or flailing around with our bug zapper racket like a demented Monica Seles (grunting included), the mosquitoes of Cambodia have turned me into someone I’m not all that fond of – Tracey, the demonic serial mosquito killer.
My paranoia is slightly justified. Even though we aren’t in the heavily forested, rural areas considered to be the primary habitats for disease-carrying mosquitoes, we’re still in a country where malaria and dengue fever are possibilities, albeit extremely remote ones. I’m a mom. I’m overcautious. Hence, I’ve taken on this new mosquito slayer mentality and developed a heavy dependence on electrified insect weaponry. As much as we’ve enjoyed our time in Cambodia, the bug battle is one thing we won’t miss.