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Catching Critters

Catching Critters

(with original drawings by Elizabeth Howard Carnes)

    We bought a Mosquito Magnet.  The New York Times Sunday Magazine a couple of weeks ago contained a humorous article touting the success of the machine in ridding your quarter acre of God's great outdoors of biting critters.  It wasn't an advertisement. I was intrigued.  The following day I hurried to a local Target Store and purchased one of the two remaining devices on the shelf.  It wasn't cheap, and they didn't tell me I would also need to buy a propane tank to fuel it.  Fact is, the weather in these parts has not been cooperative.  Only one day in two weeks have I been tempted to test the efficacy of the mosquito eater.  Carcasses have been accumulating in the catcher; but hardly enough to convince me our back lawn will be a safe haven for T shirts and shorts at twilight.

    One of our friends, on hearing of our purchase, suggested that the machine may just live up to its reputation, attracting chiggers and no-seeums as well as mosquitoes... and not annihilating them.  Then the next door neighbors will be pleased even if we aren't. 

    The technology is ingenious.  The Magnet emits CO2 in imitation of the human respiratory system.  That gas is as sweet to mosquitoes et al as honey to bears.  Once within the orbit of the Magnet, the mosquitoes are sucked into a heated catching chamber where they fly until they die.  After they die they dry up.  The accompanying brochure claims it takes 4 to 5 weeks to interrupt the breeding cycle and rid a half acre of biting bugs.

    This technology might have other applications.

    The exercise room where Barbara and I keep our circulations fine tuned is often crowded and we have to wait for our turn on the equipment.  One fellow, a stationary cyclist like me, reeks from sweat clothes rarely washed.  Huffing and puffing beside him it occurred to me I might install a machine at the door of the small gym which would emit the odor of well-used sweat socks.  Then he and I (equipped, of course I would be, with a nose clamp) could have the room all to ourselves.

    Then there's our oft-celebrated bichon.  She is a wonderful dog, playful and affectionate, but a tad disobedient when unleashed and distracted by, say, a UPS delivery person.  If I yell at the top of my lungs, I can usually stop her dead in her tracks; but doing so, screaming, scares the daylights out of anyone in earshot.  Perhaps a solution for this DDS (Distracted Dog Syndrome) would be to rig up a Bichon Magnet which would send forth the appealing aroma of liverwurst whenever I yelled, "Tappy."  Just a thought.

    Or how about a Church Magnet?  Most of the churches I have visited in the last two years sure could use one.  Along with the sound of carillon from the sacred tower, a blower could be placed next to the bells, and, along with the melodious sounds, there would waft into the Village the enticing smell of freshly brewed coffee.  Integrity would require that ushers, dressed like Juan Valdez, serve demitasses of roasted Colombian coffee to each entrant.  It might make for a messy narthex, but the nave would be full.  As for the deadly purpose of the Mosquito Magnet, it could be converted (in proper ecclesiastical fashion) to a lively purpose.  Like keeping everyone awake through the sermon.  Or clearing their throats for some lusty hymn singing. 

    Just picture it: a Village filled every Sunday morning with smoking steeples.  Of course, the new Hindu temple would offer the sweet smell of Ceylonese tea.  In the late afternoon churches could change the aroma to popcorn, the better to appeal to junior highs. 

    Meanwhile the unending battle continues, to wrest from the mosquitoes the use of our lawn in the twilight hours.   I'll keep you posted, especially if I find myself scratching welts the evening after twin Henry treats the neighborhood families to his pyrotechnics in honor of Independence Day.



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