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I hold a particular attraction for mosquitoes. Some kind of sweetness, or bitterness, or just plain oddness; mosquitoes are fascinated by me. I’ve travelled into jungles, up mountains and through cities all over Latin America and wherever I go, mosquitoes find me. Mosquitoes greet me with great enthusiasm and they leave their mark. In summer they find me here, to the west of Buenos Aires. I suffer swollen limbs, ugly marks and weird, bumpy facial features while Mario sits in peace, perfectly unblemished.

I am a collector of mosquito defence tactics. And this week’s favourite is aloe vera. Aloe vera is a soothing wonder, cutting through itches and calming my skin and I’ve used it so many times when travelling but I never used it for mosquito bites. In desperation after several stealth mosquitoes found their way into the bedroom I smoothed a thin layer of aloe vera gel over the emerging bites and it worked.

I’m not going to build the aloe brand by claiming that the bites disappeared, or the mosquitoes never found me again. The success of the Vera is partly due to its immediate soothing effect which gives the impression (which may be wishful thinking) that it’s doing something, and also to its apparent power to limit the redness and general aggressiveness of the bite. But that too may be purely psychological.

Aloe vera works best when you apply it immediately after the pests strike. You need the pure gel, or as close to 100% pure as you can get it. Creams with added aloe don’t hit the spot. Even better is the juice straight from the plant. We’ve got a spiky aloe in the garden but if I cut a leaf off every time I got bitten, we wouldn’t have it for much longer.

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Disclaimer: These strategies only work for mosquitoes that live to the west of Buenos Aires. (And when I say work, I mean occasionally have some small effect.) Mosquitoes from the provinces, particularly from Salta, and even mosquitoes from the south of Gran Buenos Aires are different. I am unequipped to deal with them.

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