What, may I ask, is the pur­pose of a mosquito?

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Be­cause the other night I couldn’t come up with one good rea­son for their ex­is­tence. Af­ter the umpteenth at­tempt to swat one of th­ese an­noy­ing blood-suck­ing in­sects with a wild swipe through the air, I klapped my­self. Wide awake. It was 3:17. Fed up, I googled: “Mosquito pur­pose”. I’m ap­par­ently not the first per­son to ques­tion this be­cause the gen­eral con­sen­sus was (among non-sci­en­tists, any­way): mankind would be bet­ter off if mos­qui­toes sim­ply dis­ap­peared overnight. They are a bit like one’s ton­sils and ap­pen­dix: re­dun­dant.

Fish, frogs and other aquatic an­i­mals will, of course, be neg­a­tively af­fected if the world’s pop­u­la­tion of mos­qui­toes dis­ap­pears be­cause they feed on them. As one sci­en­tist put it: mos­qui­toes make more mos­qui­toes, and they’re food for aquatic an­i­mals. (Couldn’t we rather start a GoFundMe cam­paign to spon­sor tins of fish food for th­ese aquatic crea­tures? At least that won’t keep me awake at night...)

In Cape Town it feels as if we have way more mos­qui­toes than usual this year. I’m ac­tu­ally not sur­prised. In gar­dens and back­yards ev­ery­where, there are buck­ets and drums and tanks filled with wa­ter. We’re suf­fer­ing from ‘drought anx­i­ety’ so if a few drops of rain fall, it’s a mad rush to get every sin­gle empty ves­sel out­side. For months now, I haven’t had a waste bin be­neath my kitchen counter – it’s stand­ing out­side un­der the sawn-off gut­ter, full of rain­wa­ter.

And there has been a mozzie pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion in this stag­nant wa­ter – there are now more mos­qui­toes than there have been drops of rain.

The on­go­ing drought pre­sented us, the Home team, with a dilemma. This is our bath­room is­sue. But for many of us, a bath­room is no longer a ‘happy place’. From Cape Town all the way to PE and deep into the Ka­roo and the North­ern Cape, it is the place where we re­cy­cle our grey wa­ter from the shower and laun­dry to flush the loo.

How­ever, we all agree that a bath­room should be beau­ti­ful as well as prac­ti­cal, which is why we took a slightly dif­fer­ent ap­proach with our bath­room fea­ture (see page 52). We show­case creative reader so­lu­tions that you can eas­ily copy in your own space – from an in­no­va­tive ad­di­tion to a cen­tury-old house in Robert­son to win­dow frames used as a shower par­ti­tion in Hout Bay. And I just love the red door com­plete with its mail slot on page 57. I won­der if you could post a roll of toi­let pa­per to some­one in need? Maybe you could feed the pa­per through it, bit by bit, to the poor soul in­side who’s run out? It would also have been re­miss of us to do a fea­ture on bath­rooms and not fo­cus on grey wa­ter in­stal­la­tions and how you should use this wa­ter in your toi­let rather than clean drink­ing wa­ter. Even if the dams are full. I hope the story mo­ti­vates you to con­sider a con­ver­sion like this when your ship comes in one day. I will cer­tainly be do­ing so.


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