The mosquito has over stayed its welcome in the friendly state of Texas. At least ten people have contracted West Nile Virus in the area of Dallas, and hundreds more have contracted the illness in milder forms. Hundreds more have the virus in their systems and yet have the immunity to keep West Nile at bay. Dallas plans to spray Sunday, August 19, 2012, if winds and rain hold back and allow airplanes to deliver pesticide to open waters where the larvae and eggs progress towards the Imago, or adult, phase. The pesticide, Duet, has no toxic effect upon humans but has a toxicity for fish. Trouble is, mosquitoes have a cleverness when it comes to laying eggs and the eggs can survive dry conditions for a time. Mosquitoes have survived winters in a dormant state. Water captures in the crooks of trees or in the reservoirs of pitcher plants can host a legion of "wigglers", which is what my friends and I called them when I spotted them wiggling in puddles. Dallas might spray their reservoir lakes and miss all the larvae tucked into places where spray won't reach. By the end of Sunday, Dallas hopes to have 300,000 acres of land sprayed.
I have to express confusion. Duet is a pesticide categorized as an adulticide. It makes the mosquitoes crazy, and the crazy mosquitoes fly out into the open and fly through a killing dose of Duet. I can't imagine why the press has written about using Duet to kill larvae, although it might. People can walk through a field treated with Duet pretty much right after spray and a few spoons of Duet can treat a football field. Duet is probably applied more effectively by a truck than by a crop duster.
The mosquito wouldn't be such a pest if it could control itself and merely feast on nectar. However, many species of the flying pest must have a meal of blood before the female body can develop eggs for brooding the next generation. For these species, animal proteins are key. This, of itself, wouldn't make the mosquito a candidate for the deadliest insect of planet earth title. The mosquito has to hit a number of species in order to gather a load of proteins, pierces the skin of animals, and transfers blood from one species to a second species. In the case of West Nile, humans that are bitten after an American Robin have found themselves on a possible vector of the West Nile. I am hoping no one thinks of spraying against Robins anytime soon.
I had never seen it happen, but friends have bragged that they had caught a mosquito sucking on their blood and captured that mosquito by drawing their skin tightly around the proboscis. A few sources say flexing a muscle is enough to trap the proboscis. Prevented from withdrawing the proboscis, the mosquito fills up with blood and the building pressure causes the mosquito to explode. I have tried this technique once and the mosquito slipped away. Either my technique required improvement or the technique fell into the realm of urban myth. I have to wonder if Mythbusters could take on the case. As the picture from the Centers for Disease Control shows, the female can take on more than a belly load of blood because it can exude excess drops. However, the Wikipedia article supports the idea that one can kill a mosquito by making it explode with blood. I am sure a guy has filmed this for YouTube. There's nothing worse than swatting a mosquito and having a splat of blood on ones hands, a splat of one owns blood.
Bats and purple martins love to eat mosquitoes, but eat many other food sources. Dragonflies are dragons toward mosquitoes, and eat mosquitoes in more than one phase of their development. Fish love to eat the larvae. Totally eliminating sources of open water can shut down mosquitoes in a residential district, except for those mosquitoes blown in by the wind.
I am pretty sure the way forward against mosquitoes will be inventing a way to hide the smell of a human, his sweat and carbon dioxide, from the mosquitoes sense of smell. Already, insect repellants have a clip on device that allows gardeners to work outside without the smell of Off and Cutters on their skin. I have noticed devices that attract all the mosquitoes and roast them to a crispy form that must be delicious to fish.
Clarke sells a range of pesticides that manage mosquitoes and have earned a Green Chemistry Award:
"It is definitely stuck"
A mosquito has chosen me as her perch. Lilo and Stitch makes fun of environmentalists:
Snopes documents the ineffectiveness of Lemon Fresh Joy and Listerine against mosquitoes. DEET blocks the mosquito receptors that sense the human trace.
Welcome to Mosquito World and the wonderful array of mosquito traps: