Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Making money from mosquitoes

Published:Tuesday | September 16, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Patria-Kaye Aarons
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I've developed a deathly fear of mosquitoes. If I hear my phone vibrate, I start swatting wildly because it sounds like a giant Aedes aegypti coming to suck my blood. No one can convince me that every one of those chikungunya-carrying critters doesn't have a price on my head. And so I arm myself.

My paranoia is keeping me safe. I have insect repellent in my car, in my handbag, and at home. I've stocked up on Vape, mats, my lucky bamboo now hates me because I refuse to water it lest the vase become a breeding ground. I sleep with the fan on, not to keep me cool, but to blow away the pesky buzzers, and I haven't opened my bedroom window in weeks.

As far as I am concerned, this is the closest Jamaica has come to terrorist activity, and I'm not convinced we are winning the war. I feel hostage to the mosquitoes; wearing long sleeves in the day and staying away from black clothing.

Every day, the reported or suspected number of persons infected increases. At last count, two dozen cases had been confirmed in Jamaica, and I know three of the 24. I refuse to be next.

This is one of those times I believe that the Government can't do everything and we have to wage war on the mosquitoes ourselves. Why did mosquitoes even make it on to Noah's Ark anyway? One friend of mine suggested that, in the future, when the world has too many people, mosquitoes will be God's population-control army. I hope I don't live to see that day.

BIZ OPPORTUNITY OF CHIK-V

There's a difference between exploitative marketing and carpe diem. Some marketers are missing out on a spike in sales. They are leaving money on the table. Were I working for an insect repellent company called, say, JMK (Jamaican Mosquito Killer), I would have promoters in every supermarket every weekend reminding people about chikungunya and all the ways my product can protect them.

The nightly news would be sponsored by JMK. 'Get chicken, not chikungunya'. Every time the weatherman (or woman) reports rain in the forecast, I'd pay to have my JMK can popping up on that screen saying, 'Remember me' in red! I would launch JMK lotion and have back-to-school JMK specials; buy one, get an exercise book for free.

I would have grown men wearing giant mosquito costumes at every traffic intersection bearing placards that say I'm afraid of JMK. We are bombarded with advertisements; and there is a thrust to get us to buy everything from condiments to condoms. I'd welcome a JMK advert in every commercial break as a gentle reminder to fight the fight against Mosquito Bin Laden.

P.S. How does one get into the mosquito-fogging business? I am always and forever an entrepreneur at heart and I smell a golden opportunity. I know many people who would pay for a weekly fogging. I should look into that.

Provided that there isn't any price gouging, I think insect repellent makers should be rolling out full marketing campaigns. This is business. I say it's no different than advertising batteries in the hurricane season. This would be one of those times where I feel the business would become a social enterprise. The ads would become necessary public-service announcements and increased sales of the product would be for the greater good of Jamaica. Everybody wins.

Let me also reach out to CASE, UWI and UTech. Not everyone will be able to afford JMK and other products like it. Find ways to tell me some alternatives to commercial insect repellents. I've actually read that eating lots of garlic will repel mosquitoes (stands to reason since they are part of the vampire family). I also remember seeing something about citrus and cloves. Is there any truth to either? Can anything else around the house be used to ward off the evil flesh feeders? Jamaica and I would welcome some ideas. Educate us.

I have to also add that part of chikungunya education perhaps needs to be chikungunya pronunciation. The names I have heard to date of the virus being called are out-of-this-world hilarious, but the best has been 'chicken gonorrhoea'. There are those who think it cousin to bird flu and contractable via fowl consumption.

FINAL WARNING

The sensibility of the Portmore mosquito makes me feel as if there's a mutant militia just waiting to attack. Don't take lightly any opponent that has an internal clock. At 6 o'clock, without fail every evening, mosquitoes descend on the St Catherine municipality of Portmore and launch a vicious hour-and-a-half attack and then disappear like mist. I don't trust them. And you shouldn't either. They know time! Who knows what else they know? Protect yourself!

Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.

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