• Sweden edition
 
NORTHERN SWEDEN DISPATCHES
'I waved and flapped like a swan in a cattery'

'I waved and flapped like a swan in a cattery'

Published: 07 Aug 2012 14:52 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Aug 2012 14:52 GMT+02:00

While house-hunting up north, ex-Londoner Paul Connolly comes face to face with the scourge of the northern Swedish summer; the bloodthirsty and dreaded mygga, or mosquito.

The sound of arrhythmic clapping started around mid-June. Suddenly our little rental house in Vuollerim sounded like the audition venue for the world’s angriest, but least funky, percussionists as short bursts of frantic clapping were punctuated by shouts of ‘bastards!’ and ‘take that you little bugger!”.

The mosquito season had arrived in northern Sweden. And what a season it was.

Of all the clichés I’d read and heard about the north, the one about mosquitos was one I really wanted not to be true. I loathe and detest all flying things. Hell, I’d ban birds if I could. But flying things that bite you? What’s that all about?

According to my friend up here, David, “the whole mosquito thing is overblown - they’re really not that much of a problem unless you’re going fishing by a lake at midnight.”

As my girlfriend Donna hurtled around the house sounding like a cross between Bruce Lee (“Aiiiiiiii-yaa!”) and Father Jack from Irish-British sit com Father Ted (“Feck!”), I repeated these words to David on the phone. I may have shouted them, I can’t remember. I was wrestling with a 4 metre mygga at the time.

He was maddeningly calm.

“Yes, I’ve heard they’re really bad in Vuollerim this year. The worst for 20 years. Someone in Vuollerim posted on Facebook that they’re getting into houses even if the windows are shut.”

I confirmed that this was indeed true and hung up - there were now mozzies everywhere in our wee house. Things were getting ugly.

The mosquito plague even affected our house-hunting. The second day after they first reared their whining ugly little heads, we went to see a house on a lake. With quite heavy tree coverage. Both Donna and I were blitzed.

The critters attacked us so aggressively their bites actually stung. They were like Viking berserker mosquitos. It didn’t help that I’d made a questionable clothing choice by wearing shorts.

The house owner, however, was quite regally unbothered. While we were running around his property swatting and yelping, he looked on in detached bemusement.

This was to become a theme.

A few days later we went to see another house by a lake. The owner, a former army chaplain, had all the doors and windows in the house open. The whole place was alive with insects.

A broms or horse fly in English (an insect so unutterably aggressive and evil its mere existence must surely make even the most religious of people question their faith in a god) pursued me remorselessly as I waved and flapped like a swan in a cattery.

In a brief moment of respite (I think the horse fly had tracked and taken down a bear instead), I asked the owner about the mosquito situation.

“I think we are lucky here. We do not seem to get that many of them.”

As he spoke, both Donna and I were transfixed. There, on his left cheek, two mosquitos were attempting to copulate. He wasn’t just not worried about his face being a hook-up joint for randy bloodsuckers; he didn’t even seem to notice. As nice as the house was, we left swiftly. It was mygg hell.

At another house, while Donna and I hopped and swatted, an estate agent told us that he only gets one or two bites a year.

“Most of my friends are the same. We don’t seem to get bitten that much.”

Is that it? Are Swedes habituated to mosquitos? How long does that habituation take? Are there pills you can take? A surgical procedure? I don't care, give me a lagom injection if that's what it takes.

As this intermittently decent summer has progressed, the number of mygg around Vuollerim has noticeably diminished. We can go for walks around 6pm and barely be interfered with. Granted, I still lather myself up with anti-mosquito creams so thoroughly that I resemble a swimmer attempting to navigate the Bothnian Gulf in January, but it’s progress.

We even open a window now and then. But then we do have in the region of 23 plug-in anti-mozzie devices.

And we finally found a house. It’s by a lake too. And there’s very little tree coverage, so the mygg get blown about and dispersed. We’ve been there three times now and seen very few mosquitos.

Still, we’re taking no risks. We’ve already purchased not one, but two, Mosquito Magnet machines, and five rather expensive mosquito net windows. Next summer we’ll be prepared.

Bring it on, myggs!

Paul Connolly

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

16:08 August 7, 2012 by JulieLou40
Paul, I have a load of mosquito armbands which are impregnated with special oils and stuff which repels them. get in touch with me if you want some. Cheers, Julie.
17:46 August 7, 2012 by shiraz
What are mosquitoes doing bothering the good folk anywhere ? There is a way to totally end these insects without nets , oils, magnets, armbands etc. and perhaps we may only keep mosquitoes in a mosquito zoo or museum ?

The same thing goes with flies (horse or otherwise). If I had the resources I would build such a system and rid the world of harmful elements (or only certain regions if some parts liked their mosquitoes for some reason) if I had the resources but perhaps I am meant to build better things.
18:36 August 7, 2012 by palledalle
Don't worry Paul, it does get better. I've been here nearly 40 years and I'm hardly ever bothered by mosquitos any more! I've also got a house to sell a bit south of you, Byske in Västerbotten if anyone is interested :).
20:55 August 7, 2012 by EmployedProfessional
If anyone invites you to Lapland for vacation,realise that you will be the bait!

The trick is to drink beer and taint your blood/skin chemistry for the buggers,so I'm told.

Ja,det funker,lite.

Fact is,our blood/chemistry it tasty to them buggers!
06:47 August 8, 2012 by entry
Repellent with DEET in the high 90s is the solution.
09:02 August 8, 2012 by achuou
This sounds like a horror movie...
21:58 August 8, 2012 by gwella
The best anti-mosquito deterrant by far is 'Skin So Soft' from Avon.

The mozzies hate the smell ,so steer clear and go on to someone else. Luckily for us humans, it actually smells nice because it's a skin moisturiser. Even the army use this product in mosquito-laden countries! I use it, and have never had a single bite. Recommended with a mozzie head net though if you can't stand the incessant buzzing around your ear! FAR safer than Deet, and it's also inexpensive and long-lasting compared to other products.

Another tip - take daily Vitamin B tablets 3 weeks before travel and eat Marmite - it's the yeast that mosquitoes also don't like (hence a previous poster recommending beer... but Vit B and Marmite cheaper!)
14:11 August 9, 2012 by GraceBee
What a funny article! I almost snorted my coffee out of my ears! Thanks for brightening my day. I would have loved to have seen the priests' face.

I must take exception with Gwella, though. Skin So Soft does not work with everyone. Not me for instance! We have bad myggs here in Arvidsjaur this year. They're everywhere. A terrible year after many good ones.
22:04 August 9, 2012 by gwella
GraceBee... yes, I gather the mosquitoes have been like flying demons this year. Maybe last year when I was in Jokkmokk and Kvikkjokk they weren't so bad (early Aug). I then went to Stalaluokta which I guess is towards the end of the biting time, they were there in their droves in the mountains but I was okay... but not those who didn't use Skin so Soft. At the end of the day, if they like the taste of us, they'll get us, no matter what we do to prevent them.

I hope for you next year that up in Arvidsjaur you get a bit of respite from the dreaded myggs, it sounds pretty horrendous for everyone, not forgetting the animals too. Less rain during next Spring might prevent them multiplying too..
15:10 August 10, 2012 by yractualpatience
My daughter takes Plaquenil - quinine - (for a totally unrelated disease) and is rarely if ever bothered by mosquitos.
03:12 August 11, 2012 by MitchT
Mosquitoes are the state bird of Wisconsin. There is no limit, no license required, and no restrictions on season, although mid-summer affords the best hunting. I recommend bird shot in a 12 gauge, but 24 gauge is adequate. There's plenty of meat on them after they have exsanguinated a few of your neighbors.
11:51 August 11, 2012 by Järven
Haha! just wait until you meet their cousins the "blinningar", not to mention the knott (midges) and - gasp! the älgens nässtyng (google it! I've met some and they are horrible!) You will also discover why the witty Northerners refer to freezing summer weather as "ganska myggfritt". The only thing which really works is to find a friend who they like to bite more than you, and hang out with them. (They don't bite my hubby when I am around!) You could try one of those beekeeper-type hats they sell at Jula. Brännvin sometimes helps - after a couple of glasses you just don't care any more....
22:12 August 11, 2012 by tpol14
I share your pain, the neighbours laugh at me swatting myself like some lunatic! English, well "kiwi" english blooded and here in on Oland in Southern Sweden they love me.... June - eaten alive! Now back to the sommarstuga for august armed with a CO2 cyclinder and a Mosquitaire Plus they are nothing like they were in June, but the catcher now in it's 2nd week is filling up rapidly... small cheaper than a magnet but seems to be very much worth the effort. But not for those horse flies! Pure evil.... any consolation... just as bad in Kent this year too.... and sadly no amount of Brannvin fixes them albeit no lack of trying!
10:05 August 12, 2012 by jarvtrask
I hope the mygga storm has abated around Arvidsjaur now. With nice weather over the coming week, I don't fancy being perstered the whole time.

Drinking lots of wine usually helps....it's a pain to do, I know.
17:19 August 16, 2012 by Esox
Nice article but... It's a warning for me. I'm going to travel to Jamtland in 2nd half of September and I'll stay by the lake. Can anyone tell me if I should prepare myself for huge mygga or other bugs plague then?
Today's headlines
Ikea to introduce 'green' vegetarian meatballs

Ikea to introduce 'green' vegetarian meatballs

Swedish furniture giant Ikea is planning to put vegetarian meatballs on the menu in an attempt to cut down on its carbon footprint, the company has announced. READ () »

Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

The Swedish government has proposed scrapping the 25-year span for repaying student loans, by suggesting those who attend higher education should keep paying the money back well into retirement. READ () »

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage
The crayfish cage in the picture is not the one mentioned in the story. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage

Police in eastern Sweden have launched a preliminary investigation of animal cruelty after two puppies were found drowned in a crayfish cage. READ () »

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat
Rickard Rundgren Björk of the coastguard services speaks to the media after the rescue operation on April 19th 2014. Photo: Maja Suslin /TT

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat

Three Saturday morning sailors had a lucky escape after their small boat collided and sank after it crashed into a cruise ship whilst sailing in the Stockholm archipelago. READ () »

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK
Sofie Marie Jansson. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK

British police have found the missing Swedish girl Sofie Jansson in London, exactly a week after she was last seen, with authorities saying she is doing well. READ () »

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Sweden's opposition party has stepped up its efforts to secure the pensioner vote by pledging to lower taxes for the elderly and make higher earners pay more. READ () »

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend
Showan Shattak pictured in Malmö before his attack. Photo: Facebook

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend

The 25-year-old man, whose stabbing by neo-Nazis sparked mass demonstrations across Sweden, has made a strong recovery in hospital and took to social media to thank supporters for campaigning against fascism. READ () »

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
Advertisement:
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

738
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com