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"Mosquitoes Save a Life," #127 Swapping Stories
Harry Methvin, Hargrove Settlement, Calcasieu Parish

Recorded June 30, 1990 by C. Renée Harvison.


There was an old fellow who lived over here, Elbert Cooley, who was telling me about this guy he knew who went squirrel hunting. And he got lost in the woods. And he was bitten by a rattlesnake. And it was almost dark. But he made his way to the edge of the woods, and he collapsed in the ditch. And he lay there dying.

During the night they sent out a search party, and by daybreak the next morning, they found the guy. They thought the guy was dead. But on closer examination, they found out he was still alive. They looked beside him, and there was a giant pile of mosquitoes.

What had happened was the mosquitoes had sucked all the poison blood out of his body during the course of the night, and the old man lived to tell the story. That's true.

Notes to the Teacher: The mosquito is one animal that almost never gets a kind word from tall tale tellers. By tradition these pernicious insects sharpen their bills with whetstones, kidnap babies, and carry off oxen. In Ancelet's collection of Cajun tales, mosquitoes weigh two hundred pounds and fly off with houses (1994, no. 84). Among the hundreds of bad mosquitoes found in the Motif-Index (X1286), there are few good. This story offers a neat inversion of the typical mosquito lore. When mosquitoes and snakes are worked into the same story, there is usually a more negative evaluation of the mosquito. Related to X1286.5(a). Deadly bite of mosquito: Mosquitoes are so deadly that people bitten by mosquitoes have rattlesnakes bite them to counteract the mosquito venom. The best summary of mosquito tales is by Halpert (1990).

About the Transcriptions


National Endowment for the Arts.

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