Muzzies & skeeters: how to take the bite out of mosquitos in Jakarta

No matter what you call these little guys — skeeter (USA),  mokika (Hawaii), mozzie or mussie (Aussie), moustique (French), mug (Dutch), mogi (Korean), nyamuk (Indonesian),  lamok Tagolog, ka (Japanese) — they suck.

So what do you do about mosquitoes in Jakarta — that’s one of the FAQ here at this Jakarta Sharehouse. And here’s one more good Jakarta mosquito control FAQ from Family Guide to Jakarta.

We find the key variables  to mosquito control in Jakarta include: seasonal factors; spraying; closing bedroom door; cold AC;  nets; and fan. If you control for all (or most) of these, even eczema and other sensitive skin types can handle Jak during skeeter season.

We find skeeters come out after it rains, and the dry months can be the worst. But it’s highly variable.  But if you notice that there’s a nyamuk at the office and a muzzie in the taxi, forget it — there’s definitely some waiting for you at home. They live here, too.

Expensive, environment-be-damned insecticide campaigns are de rigueur at many over-staffed Jakarta households — and you can tell which ones if you drive by with the window rolled down. But they don’t necessarily work; I lived in a house like that and mosquitoes were actually worse. Perhaps because of the gardens, which Indonesians often say are precisely the cause of mosquitoes at the houses of green-loving bules.

We find it helps to enter the bedroom quickly, immediately shutting door behind you. But there are some commando-trained strains of muzzies that can infiltrate and survive in almost any environment, including cold AC. But they’re blown away by an ordinary fan.

Finally, just-hatched skeeters are tiny and infuriating. Don’t fall for the psy-ops. You’re not going crazy. It’s just a bunch of tiny mosquitoes you can’t see that. A bit of Bayon and they drop like flies.

HIT, Baygon and other bands seem to be equally effective.  By volume, the aerosol cans don’t cost too much more — and are much easier — than the pump action refillable atomizer. But they’re depleted much more quickly. Frankly, we’re looking for something new but, for now, choose the one with the lease vile smell, give it as many pumps as possible without breathing or passing out, and close the room up for at least 15 minutes.
(Doesn’t seem to matter if you mist the bed and never noticed any residue on electronic equipment, although best to avoid a direct hit). Like most forms of chemical warfare, this isn’t a lot fun. So draw up a chart for the staff to check off and give them the best equipment possible.

If you keep the bedroom door shut always (a must) and spray more or less regularly, then the nets and fans are usually optional. But they can be used redundantly if you simply don’t want to get bitten.

Use a roomy net hung on a frame to avoid the sense that you’re on a high-mountain scouting adventure. The net can be tied back when not in use and can even be attractive, creating a 4-poster (or Madura-style) bed look.

One of the advantages of a spacious mosquito net is that you have more options for where to put the fan, including on the wall inside the net.

Here’s what we do at the Sharehouse for cost effective (if slightly labor intensive) mozzie solution that kind of grows on you.

1) Buy netting material fabric center such as Mayestic or Tanah Abang

2)Take it to (almost any) tailor together with a sketch of a simple tent. It’s nice to include a colorful patterned piece of fabric for the ceiling panel of the “tent”  (made from any type of fabric) since you’ll spend a lot of time looking up at it

3) Ask handy-man to construct simple (light) wooden frame

4) Pop the “tent” over the frame

5) Hang the frame above your bed using strong fishing line

6) Re-install your reading light so that it’s on the inside

7) Can use a claw-style woman’s hair clip to hold nets open during the day

If it sounds fancy, it’s not. The only thing that matters is the netting has to be long enough so that it reaches the bed with some 30 cm extra. That extra part simply can be tucked in (or else the weight of the folds themselves keep it in place if sufficiently long). Because mosquitoes will sneak through the cracks, if there are any.

There are different grades of fine mesh net materials available at the fabric markets. It doesn’t necessarily need to have a picture of an insect on it. Total meters depending on size of bed and how high you want to hang the contraption you may need up to 20 meters , which for decent quality net would cost about Rp 500,000. That ought to be enough billowing translucence for Kate and William.

August 2011 photo update:

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