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All the about Pkchukiss's life in the Singapore Armed Forces

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Permethrin: the insect killer

Humans don't really care about the finer details about all the things they use. As long as it works as advertised, they would be content with just the basic knowledge required to operate those technological goddesses.

With that in mind, here is an introduction to the insect killer, Permethrin, and how it affects to military personnels.

We all know that staying inside the forest for days at a time can be a disturbing experience. Campers curse about it, while soldiers lying with their faces in the grasses are resigned to their destiny. Those blood suckers really know how to annoy, taking extreme pleasure in drinking human blood, and imparting a torturous itch reflex after it is done with its business, which makes us wonder whether those pests have been unloading their wastes at the same time as they enjoy the scrumptious snack.

More fortunate soldiers (read: behind the front lines) have the pleasure of relieving themselves of the consuming desire to scratch the itch, while others (those with their faces in the grass, having to stay motionless continuously to maintain stealth) would have to expend already scarce willpower to resist the burning urge to move. Their fingers start to tremble with the effort. Soon, the body follows in harmonic motion, which sets the surrounding grass into motion, which then shows the uninitiated enemy observer the location of their potential ambushers.

To solve the problem, armies have been ordering soldiers to roll down their sleeves whenever entering an area with trees and grass patches. That usually stops most mosquitoes. But there exist an unusual breed of the elite, capable of extreme piercing and penetration, which the thick nylon and cotton cloths fail to block. Not surprising, these commandos also harbour the same ability to create bigger bumps, and itchier itches. Sometimes, it gets so bad that the itch feels painful to the touch.

Such is the suffering of soldiers having to operate in these mosquito infested forests.

As if that were not enough, to break the camel's back, many species of mosquitoes harbour vectors and parasites, which they present to its host in gratitude for the involuntary donation. Dengue, Malaria are just some of the many diseases people have come down with, days after their encounter with the pests. Many survive, while some succumb to the disease. All the prep talks by training officers about how "men don't die so easily" seems to have taken a new meaning altogether.

When all seems dark and gloomy, the policy makers from their cushy offices have come to the rescue!

Introducing.. Permethrin!

Picture of Pynosect-PCO bottle

A revolutionary insect killer in a bottle, it promises to kill insects on contact!

First, you pour a little bit of the solution into many parts of water. Make sure you have those gloves on!
You should see the entire solution turn chalky. Dump one piece of your uniform inside it and soak it. Do the same with the other pieces.

The manufacturer promises that insects coming into contact with the treated uniform will drop dead and fall off.

I can't verify this claim since I've still been bitten by those monstrosities after treating my uniform, yet I have seen buzzing mosquitoes drop dead in front of me after I have sprayed them with a pure mixture of water and Permethrin, which makes me extremely suspicious about the killing mechanisms: does the chemical simply chokes the insect to death, or does it kill by overloading the mosquito's desire to feed?

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