Mosquito Trap to Curb Dengue

“What is an Ovitrap” by Nancy Brown
The Token Store provides opportunities for the unemployed in San Juan Cosalá to earn tokens which they use to purchase clothes and household items for their families. The store has taken on another project, quite a big one. Last year, San Juan Cosalá had a large number of cases of dengue fever.  The town was routinely sprayed with chemicals, but that didn’t seem to slow the number of cases.  I have done some research on the problem of dengue carrying mosquitoes and there doesn’t seem to be a chemical-free trap that actually kills them. Providing spray with Deet for the town is cost prohibitive. What does show real promise for helping the situation is ovitraps, used with great success by the U.S. military in areas where malaria is a serious problem.

I have experimented with several materials and have a simple-to-make and inexpensive prototype.  We are working with Lola, the Delegata of San Juan, and physicians from the clinic to get these ovitraps into the households.  We are training residents of the town to make them.  The actual cost to make one is about 20 pesos, and Lola feels that most people in the town can afford that.  We will, however, need to pay the trained locals who make them a small amount for each.   So we are hoping for sales of these to the expat community for 50 pesos each, which would help pay the people to make them and to provide free ones to the sick, elderly, disabled, etc. of the town, for which even 20 pesos would be a hardship.

Here is how our ovitrap works. Mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs on or near stagnant water and they are attracted to dark colors.  A man’s sock, (black and thick is best) is siliconed to the bottom of a yogurt or large cottage cheese plastic container.  Holes are made for the wire for hanging the trap, and a larger overflow hole is placed about 20% down from the top.  The trap will come with a few pieces of dog food in the bottom, which when water is added, in a few days will create yucky water.  The water is wicked up by the sock.  The mosquitoes will lay their eggs on the rim of the container.  When the larvae develop, they will crawl and drop through the small-holed metal screen on the top as they are seeking the water.  When the larvae mature into mosquitoes, they are too big to get back out through the screen.  A plastic screen is glued over the overflow hole to keep them from exiting by that route.

The top screen can be occasionally taken off to remove dead mosquitoes. The process takes about 6 weeks to be fully effective and it is supposed to eliminate 98% of the mosquitoes.  About 4-6 ovitraps are needed for an acre of land, so each household in San Juan Cosalá would need only one.

If you could collect the large plastic yogurt or cottage cheese containers, the white wire clothes hangers (they are light weight and easier to cut, but will support the weight of the water) twist ties, and even old (or new) men’s black socks, we would greatly appreciate it.  These donations can be dropped off at the government building on the San Juan Cosalá square or I can arrange for times to drop off at locations closer to you.

We know we can’t eradicate the disease, but we are hoping we can cut down on the number of cases.  If a person gets dengue for a second time, it is much worse, and last year many people who had other health problems were hospitalized with dengue.  Thank you for supporting this cause! If you would like to order one or more of the ovitraps for yourself or your housekeeper or gardener’s families, you can send an order to me at


Sitting with Grief

Who is fooling whom?
Grief hides,
until it jumps out of the closet
and yells Gotcha!
Hiding from myself
something part of me
doesn’t want to know,
something one part
refuses to remember—
grief is intricate like that.
When I think I’m finished,
I attend an opera, raw emotion
floods me with the music.
Loss looms sudden and gigantic,
punches my chest with its iron tsunami.
Shocked, I totter, stagger—
equilibrium once more a joke.

When I scrabble my way
back to standing balance,
when I have banished again,
the sadness with no solution,
the sorrow that can only
become a companion—
I may fool myself once more
that grief is done.
For sitting with sadness
is grueling work.

Sitting with grief
I need a glass of water beside me,
for the work parches the heart.
Sitting with sorrow,
I must have a cushion that is firm,
for it will be a lengthy sit.
Sitting with sadness
I cannot fool myself,
for grief is my clearest mirror.
I will look deep!
For facing loss
may bring me, before I die,
to lift my mouth in a slim smile
at the beauty that remains.

©Susa Silvermarie 2017

Standing Rock Ceremony on Lake Chapala






Indigenous Peoples

Catching on in a number of cities across the USA is the idea of Indigenous Peoples’ Day as the perfect replacement for celebrating Columbus (ie Invasion) Day. On this day I celebrate the world’s indigenous peoples, transmuting my own and the invaders’ scarcity-thinking into the paradigm of  sharing an abundant earth.

All earthlings are indigenous to our precious spinning planet. Blessed Be.


photography by Susa SilvermarieI sit under the tree that is four trees grown together, the tree in the  courtyard of the Lake Chapala Society, the tree where philanthropist Neill James had her ashes placed, the tree my friend Maria Lupita played under as  a toddler when  Neill would wave to her from the upper windows.

Dear towering one, I sense the protectiveness of your energy. Thank you, magnificent one, for breathing out the oxygen that gives me life. I am a small human, dependent upon you tree beings from my very first breath seventy years ago. As I accept what I need from your exhalations, please accept, from mine, what  you need. Thank you for this  exchange between our species,  my original experience of sharing, my first and most fundamental experience of intercambio.

When I embrace your trunk, my arms can’t encompass you. Grandmother! I have my heart against your heartwood. I feel the grounded power of your body come into my body. Yes, please, pour your loving light into me. May my trunk be an open channel like yours, reaching up for sun, reaching down for water and connection. As you drink the sunlight and make your magic of photosynthesis, may I transform what I am given— into what I need,

The earth around your roots smells rich with the scent of life. We come from the same fecundity, you and I. I send my own, invisible roots, reaching down from each of my feet into the planethome we share. Your roots give stability and seek out nourishment, but they also communicate to other trees through mycelium, the tendrils of your fine white fungal network. Just so, my own neural network branches into fineness and just so, my lightbody energy field reaches out to touch that of others. May the rich smell of the earth at your roots remind me that none of us  of any species can fall from the jeweled net that connects us.

Now I put my ear to you, a tree that has, by growing four into one, made separateness into oneness. And the song I hear humming in your rising sap is one of oneness. A steady rhythm in your inmost parts. A sound without any doubts, a pure note of sturdy joy. I receive this music into my ear laid against your bark. I let the joy wash through my body as it washes through yours.

And taste,  oh, I imagine I can taste your fruits. They are juicy explosions in my mouth. The fruits of my own life, ripened now, are bending me back to earth with their abundance. This is my aging, being laden with fruit. This is my aging, my ripening, the smiling of my branches, back down toward my roots, making a circle of life.

Ancient one, I thank your species for my first inhalation of oxygen, and for some 17,000 inbreaths a day I have taken since then. I offer you and your species every exhalation that remains to me. And at the commencement of my lifeforce, to you who have exchanged breath with me  in this most intimate of intercambios,  I shall offer my final exhalation gladly.

   (writing prompt that generated this post: Go to a tree you love and write to it.)