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Surely, you've heard the old saying: build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. The other night while surfing the internet, I came upon a really cool one. It was a five-gallon bucket with a trap door in the lid. Mice would scurry up a ramp to get the bait placed on top of the pail, step on the trap door, and WOOP! Into the bucket, they fell. The guy caught sixteen mice in one night!
How cool would that be to catch that many mice alive? Especially if you had snakes or other pets that feed on mice. Or, you could go release them in the front yard of your nemesis. I'm sorry, I digress. This story is not about mice nor plotting against anyone. It's about flying pests.
Since the creation of the world, man has not stopped looking for a better way to keep mosquitoes at bay, metaphorically building a better mousetrap.
We have lotions and sprays, but people have become less thrilled about putting chemicals on their skin. My grandfather kept vanilla extract in his tackle box. I applied that, and it only made me want to lick my own arm, and the bugs seemed to like it as well.
We've designed screen houses, but the skeeters crawl under the edge, through the grass to come in and join the people. Another device produces a high pitch frequency that humans can't hear and mosquitos don't like. If we can't hear it, how do we know it's working? There are citronella candles, smoldering coils, and gadgets that produce offensive scents to the little bloodsuckers!
My wife inherited a classic Bug Zapper from her grandfather. It looks like a two-foot-tall carriage house light with small, blue fluorescent tubes inside. There's a wire mesh around it to keep curious people from touching the pretty colors. The openings in the mesh are big enough for a good-sized bug to enter. Once they come in contact with the blue tubes, ZAPPO! There's a quick electrical shock noise, and they're goners. When the occasional June bug or a moth gets inside, it sounds like fireworks on the fourth of July!
The Bug Zapper has provided many hours of summer entertainment at campsites, in back yards, and on decks and patios worldwide; it's a spectator's sport. Family and friends would gather to enjoy a beverage and watch bugs get zapped. Over time, people wanted and demanded more from this sport. They wanted something interactive; thus, some genius invented the mosquito racket.
Having the appearance of a racket-ball racket, the mosquito racket is electrically charged and more dangerous. When swung through the flight path of a wayward skeeter, the lethal contraption will bring the zap to them; the bug no longer has to fly to the stationary zapper to die.
Originally designed to offer relief from mosquitos and gnats, the zapper racket has become a full-contact sport for many. We were first introduced to the device when my brother-in-law Jeff came to visit.
Northern Minnesota is well known for its honorary state bird of jest – the mosquito. Tall tales about how the size of Minnesota's mosquitoes are told. But honestly, they aren't any larger than those from any other state; we just have more of them – a lot more of them.
Sitting on our deck one summer night, the mosquitos started to come out. Jeff was well prepared; he pulled out his racket and began swinging from his deck chair. Pow, pop, zap, zap. "What the heck is that," I asked, and he explained. "That's really cool. Can I see it?" I began waving the device, and the skeeters started dropping.
Melissa came out to the deck and saw me waving the racket. Z-zap, zap. (I got two at once) "What is that?" she queried, and Jeff explained. "That's really neat. Let me see that," she said as she took the racket against my will. I told her I wasn't done with it yet, "I'll be just a minute," she said. "be patient."
She began moving as gracefully as a ballerina lightly dancing across the stage. A few zaps later, she was going at the mosquitos like a ninja warrior in a severe battle. Zap, Zap, pow, pow, pow, BANG. "Weegee! Woohoo!" she hollered in full action. I don't believe Jeff, nor I held the racket again until his visit came to an end. "We've got to get a couple of these," she said while reluctantly surrendering the weapon to its rightful owner at his departure.
On Monday, we drove to Duluth and purchased a pair of the rackets at a discount store. We got two of them for less than seven dollars each. Mosquito rackets are not all created equal, and these were junk. The mosquitos were winning. Melissa went online and ordered a good one. "Twenty bucks?" I questioned.
"I researched them. You won't get a good mosquito racket for less." She justified.
When the package arrived with only one racket, I questioned, "What about me. Where's mine?"
"You have those two over there," she said, pointing to the dysfunctional rackets, "one for each hand." She began swinging her new toy; zap, zap. "YeeHaw!"
Last weekend we were in Mason City camping along the Winnebago River. Our daughter, Annie Jo, joined us at the campsite. I'm sure you've heard the old saying: build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. Well, I'm not sure if it's better, but it definitely had more options. Annie pulled out her brand-new rig; Melissa was in awe.
"How much was that?" I asked, looking at the fancy gadget.
"Twenty bucks," Annie replied, "I researched them; you can't get a good one for less than twenty bucks."
Annie showed off her Inteleable Bug Zapper, Mosquito Killer. This USB rechargeable bad boy packs a 4000V grid with Safe to Touch 3-layer safety mesh. (I sure would have appreciated that the day Melissa popped me with her racket, but that's another story.)
Annie's racket has a detachable flashlight built into the handle and another LED light near the head, giving the user an upper hand during nighttime battles. It had more buttons, toggles, and switches than a '62 Buick Roadmaster (also known for killing masses of bugs). Why just its black and blue, sleek design alone is enough to scare a mosquito to death!
Annie switched the unit to the ON position and went to battle, but no sounds were made. Seeking the advice of a well-seasoned mosquito racket operator, she told Melissa, "I don't think this thing is working."
Melissa looked over the high-tech device, "Even with the switch turned on, you still have to hold the little button to charge the grid." She explained. Without supplying a charge to the grid, Annie had basically been beating and bludgeoning bugs to death.
Annie depressed the button and swung the racket: zap, pow, pop, zap. "Now, this is camping!" She declared. Soon the two were in full action. A person passing by, unfamiliar with this tool, seeing two women swinging wildly through the air at apparently nothing, would have to assume they were on something – or just crazy.
After zapping all the bugs, the girls turned on one another. Each with their left hand on their hip, presenting a racket in their right hand, commenced fencing. They would charge one another, then retreat as the opponent advanced. This went on back and forth like a choreographed dance.
With my trusty dog, June, at my side, I sat in a camp chair, spectating. The dual continued. I drank the last swallow of my beverage, then stood up, "June, do you want to go for a walk?"
We weren't fifty feet down the road when I slapped at the back of my neck. In my palm was a squished, bloody mosquito. "Darn it! He got me," I complained. Meanwhile, June was biting at a black fly on her side. "Maybe we should get a couple of those rackets," I suggested to my dog.
"Dad, I don't have opposable thumbs. How would I hold a racket?"
"Trust me, June, someone will come along and build a better mousetrap. It's just a matter of time." We shared a good laugh about that and kept walking through the campground.