Missing the Mosquito Net

I saw it for the first time when I was in my early 20s and liked it at first sight. I had been in Mexico City and took a plane from there to a small town near the sea. At that time I was a management trainee with Lufthansa and could take aeroplanes as easily as I take busses now. The name of the town was Villa Hermosa, i.e. beautiful town. I remember those details, because there, for the first time, I encountered a mosquito net in a small hotel. I was thrilled to sleep under it. It felt like heaven. I had always dreamt – and I am certain almost everyone from northern Europe has this dream – of tropical climate and a mosquito net symbolised it for me. It was proof that I was in a place where one could get malaria and somehow this was exciting.

After that first time, I encountered mosquito nets in many places, in Panama, Costa Rica, in Indonesia. In Thailand, I saw an interesting version of it. A huge net was put up over the major area of the room, almost stretching from wall to wall. The whole family of some ten members slept underneath on mats on the floor. When I came to India over 30 years ago, I also often slept under mosquito nets. I remember the Tourist Bungalow in Puri where a wooden frame was fixed high over the bed for the net. Yet nowadays, the nets have become very rare. One can almost be sure that there won’t be mosquito nets, if one checks into a hotel. The guesthouses of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry are a pleasant exception.

The reason may be that many hotels have now netting at the windows, but by far not all. Yet even if there is netting, as a rule, one or two mosquitoes sneak in, and even one mosquito is enough to make a racket over your ear just when you are just about to fall asleep. Maybe I am especially allergic to this sound, because for 5 years I suffered a yearly bout of malaria and suffering it was.

Of course there are other ways to drive mosquitoes away. A fan at full speed will do the job, and most fans in hotel rooms rotate automatically at full speed. But it is not always that hot that one needs a fan. And there are many people who actually prefer no fan, though those, who prefer fan, won’t believe this. Electric gadgets, too, make mosquitoes flee, but if they harm mosquitoes, are they harmless to humans? The smell at least is not pleasant and if electricity goes, fan and gadget are useless.

I sometimes travelled with my own net, but how difficult it is to put it up! Usually, there is only the curtain rod and the latch of the door. Bad luck, if they both are on the same side of the bed. And then there is still the fourth corner pending.

Long ago, in May 1981, I stayed in Lumbini in Nepal. At that time Lumbini was infested with mosquitoes. Though there was a mosquito net, it was almost impossible to get underneath without taking a bunch of mosquitoes in. There were some researchers in town who tried to find a solution to the malaria problem. One of them told me that the best protection against malaria is a mosquito net, because the malaria carrying mosquito usually bites between 10 pm and 2 at night.

I wonder why mosquito nets have gone out of favour in India. Is it another aspect of copying the west? Since hotels in Paris or London don’t have them why should hotels in Delhi have them? How nice would it be to find mosquito nets in hotel rooms where mosquitoes are to be expected! Tourists would enjoy their holiday better because they sleep better. Further, it would save electricity, since many people use the fan only against the mosquitoes. The danger of getting malaria would be reduced. It would give good business to the net producers and create jobs. And it would be a fitting tribute on World Mosquito Day, which was, as I just discovered, celebrated yesterday. Anyone convinced?
By Maria Wirth

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15 comments

  1. I grew up slepping inside a mosquito net and it probably saved me from malaria – never had it. However on warm days it can feel really stuffy inside. Even the fan breeze is blocked by a net. I need a hint of breeze and air movement inside the room to fall asleep. However inside a net it is absolutely still. So I never considered one in my adult life. however these days I find mosquitoes are becoming immune to the mosquito repellent liquids. Sometimes I even see a bunch of them use the mosquito repellent machine as a “hangout” or resting place LOL. There may be a time when repellents no longer work at all and we may have to go back to our mosquito nets.

  2. Maria ji

    Indians became copycats now-a-days. They just blindly follow american/western style without any reason to follow. One of my friends, visited his son at Melbourne few years ago and shared his experience there (that was his first visit there). He told me that even you leave sugar container opened for entire day, still you won’t find any ants around it. That’s not the case if it is in India. Probably you find an empty container in the evening. Can you dare to follow the same here? What suits one country does not to other country. Blind following should be avoided. Of course, where there is a scope and necessity, should be thoroughly analyzed with pros and cons before following. Your mosquito net missing is also blind following of western style, no doubt, it is worthless, meaningless, can be fatal to people by malaria mosquitoes. Hope your expression would be an eye-opener to many in India. Thanks Maria.

    1. Truthseeker · · Reply

      You are absolutely right sir ! After having read the posted comments here, it seems that the people of this country have not only their physical eyes, but also their inner eyes of understanding and reasoning, kept closed.That is the reason why, the American or Western countries are like a light house for them.And this is not the fault of others, but the blindness of ignorance is within their own inner self.

  3. Nothing works better than a cotton net to keep the pesky beings away. At home, I use one every single day. But, it’s become hard to find in the market as the foldable Chinese made ones have taken over. Yes, no longer at the hotels, though one could still find in eco-lodges in the Amazon and Sundarbans.

    People can’t believe when I tell them my worst experience was at a golf-range in Minneapolis, after the Sun went down – we were swarmed, bitten and almost carried-away by the mosquitoes – just can’t forget that for life !

    I find the best natural repellent is Citronella oil, which I keep handy all the time.

    1. Reminds me of a joke heard earlier, that the official bird of Minnesota is the mosquito!

  4. hi Maria, I grew up sleeping under mosquito nets all my student life, but then lately whenever I visit India I dont get to see nets anymore. I think the preventive measures instituted by public health departments have effectively reduced the mosquito population in most of the cities. Added to that the mosquito repellent coils, creams/ other substantially eliminated the mosquito menace in most homes. Plus as above explained by you the full speed fan is the nuclear option against the insect.

    Regarding the ants and flies etc. in the west and richer world- we do see them here all the time, we use very effective sprays to eliminate the unwanted visitors. These sprays repel the insect for a long duration , say upto 2 weeks each spray. Iam sure these sprays will make their appearance pretty soon in Indian markets.

  5. Gaya Spiga · · Reply

    How can I conctat you by e-mail?

    1. my email ID is on About, too. did you get my mail?

  6. Mosquito nets are a good non-violent way of dealing with those pesky buzzers.

    However, stay away from those plastic mosquito nets! They are cheap as they are mostly made in China and easy to carry and wash but they are a serious fire hazard.

    I also wonder whether the mosquito could exist without humans… I would think that the Biblical timeline is erratic here, it should say that God made man first and then the mosquito, not the other way, or else the mosquito would have died of starvation (That was a joke and no blasphemy — customary note for those pesky humans who are always ready for outrage!)

    An Indian saying about the mosquito, presumably one that is buzzing around a cow, goes thus: “Even near an udder dripping nutritious milk, it is only the prospect of blood that catches the fancy of the mosquito”. This is often stated when talking of vaasana’s, prakriti and guna.

  7. surya, usa · · Reply

    oh the nostalgia…thanks for the article Maria. Let me see..last August when I visited Hyderabad for 10 days I hardly experienced any mosquito menace. I think the sanitary measures implemented by the municipality are taking effect, besides the mosquito repellent coils and other simple chemicals are also pretty effective nowadays. A couple of decades ago when I was living there I used the mosquito net every night. High speed fan was a big no for my delicate sinuses eventhough my siblings applied that trick successfully in their bed rooms during my student years.

  8. Most people don’t use mosquito nets saying that they don’t get enough airflow inside. That’s how I was too until I started using this collapsible mosquito net made in chennai (their website is http://www.viewnetindia.com). They say that many of us are used to sleeping with the fan on full speed because of the mosquitos, while all we need is a pleasant breeze to make us comfortable. Also the airflow depends on the type of netting material – polycotton nets will bake you alive, cotton nets obstruct airflow. This viewnet I use is HDPE (some kind of Plastic). After the first few nights, I’m now very comfortable and many of our relatives are using it now. It’s portable too, though you can’t fit it into your backpack. My cousins studying in colleges took it to their hostels, those going on tours took it with them to use at the hotels. I find it very useful, you can try it too.

  9. Nice Information.. Thanks for the Sharing.
    here are some Mosquito Net have a check on this..

  10. Highly evolvable malaria vectors: The genomes of 16 Anopheles mosquitoes.To know more how to prevent mosquitoes, click here mosquito net chennai

  11. Hi Mariaji
    I am assuming this is an account of your mosquito net experience a year back. But I can tell you that the new trend is to buy mosquito nets that are more innovative and carry them during adventure trips. Funny, how design plays a role in adoption of a product. After we designed our Comfort Net mosquito nets, that required no tying, no removing and could be folded and back packed, people who disliked bed nets, started buying them. One must remember that it is the best way to stay away from harmful effects of mosquito repellents. Many youngsters are buying it to do meditation sitting inside it, as it is aerated and protects at the same time. Request you to visit comfortnet.in once to see it for yourself. As usual, its a pleasure to read your blog posts.

  12. […] The article first appeared as – https://mariawirthblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/missing-the-mosquito-net/ […]

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