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Mosquito Bites Don’t Just Itch

Mankind has been living with bugs since the dawn of time. If you close your eyes, one can almost see it: Primitive man living in a cave, chewing on his mastodon bone being plagued by a buzzing fly while watching TV. From primitive man to the modern American man, history, like cornmeal, is often riddled with bugs and their accompanying effects. Therefore, to honor that history and to honor America (hereafter America shall be referred to as ‘Merica) during this most patriotic month, I will combine ‘Merican history with Insects into a wonderful melting pot of words.

Little known to most people, George Washington during his life suffered from Malarial attacks. He grew up in the often soggy Virginia, and sometime around the age of 17 he contracted Malaria. Symptoms include fevers, chills, sweats, nausea, headaches, and fatigue caused by parasites transmitted by mosquitoes. These parasites can remain in a person’s system for years, and the father of our country had regular bouts with this disease. It’s amazing to think that all the things he did and accomplished during his life he did while enduring this awful disease.

Fast forwards to the early 1800’s. Napoleon Bonaparte was in his heyday, conquering his way to domination of most of Europe. Napoleonic France at that time owned the island of St. Domingue (modern day Haiti) where there developed a slave uprising. Thinking he could easily and simultaneously squash resistance in Haiti and then sail and march into the Louisiana Territory to both cement and expand France’s position in the Americas, Napoleon sent close to 50,000 soldiers over the ocean. Haiti was a breeding ground for mosquitoes who were, unfortunately for the soldiers, carriers of the deadly Yellow Fever. The soldiers had virtually no resistance to Yellow Fever, and succumbed in huge numbers, some 40,000 or more. Without a viable army in the America’s, Napoleon was forced abandoned his new world conquest. Soon after, He ended up selling the Louisiana Territory to the United States for $15 million.

In World War 2, the Japanese military had plans to air-drop thousands of plague infested fleas over California. Code named ‘Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night,’ the plan was to take these fleas aboard submarines to just off the coast, then launch aircraft that would then crash or drop balloons with the fleas onto the population. Thankfully, the Japanese surrendered in August of 1945, just weeks before the planned attack.

These are just a few examples. I was going to write about the ‘bugs’ in the Nixon Whitehouse and at the Watergate complex, but I just barely googled it. To my dismay, the ‘bugs’ weren’t actually insects. Bummer. They almost certainly ended his presidency, though.

And so do I also end this blog about bugs by resigning. Until next time anyway.


CC Image By Tom at Flickr.

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