Dear Miriam | Should Mosquitoes Stop Sukkah Invites?

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Dear Miriam,

I have a sukkah, and many of my friends don’t. I want to be able to share my sukkah and invite people over, but my backyard is a mosquito nightmare. Should I still host this week?

Signed,


Skeeters in the Sukkah

Dear Sukkah,

At this point, in September 2021, we’ve all put up with a fair amount of discomfort in the name of being able to do anything that’s not solely alone in our own homes. Outdoor Shabbat services in a windstorm? Check. Shavuot learning in 80-plus-degree heat with little to no shade? Check. All-day Yom Kippur services while wearing masks without the assistance of mints or gum? Check.

Mosquitoes, at this juncture, seem like a small price to pay for being with friends and being in a sukkah. With any invitation, though, should come some appropriate words of warning. “Hi there, we’d love to have you over for dinner this week in our sukkah! If you have a favorite bug spray, please consider bringing it with you, as the mosquitos are particularly aggressive this time of year in our backyard. Hope you can make it!”

If someone is extremely mosquito-averse, they are free to say no to your invitation, or to follow through on your advice to bring bug spray. You should take as many precautions as possible, too, and light citronella candles, provide bug spray to your guests and have some kind of anti-itch cream on hand. It’s also worth looking around your yard to see if you have standing water that may be attracting the little buggers, though eliminating those hazards is unlikely to make a serious impact before the end of Sukkot.

Any invitation that you feel you can safely extend is a kind and generous one. Even if your prospective guests feel that they can’t take you up on it because of mosquitos, COVID, work schedules or any other reason, don’t hold back from offering an invitation because of what they might say.

Though there are many very real threats around us, mosquito-borne illness isn’t currently one of them in our part of the world. So while the buzzing may be annoying and the itching uncomfortable, the benefit of being with friends is likely to outweigh any inconvenience.

Be well,

Miriam

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