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Archive for the ‘Mosquitos’ Category

Can Urban Mosquito Species In Louisiana Transmit The Deadly EEE Virus To Humans?

Due to several non-native disease-carrying mosquito species that have established an invasive habitat in urban and suburban areas of the US during the past 20 years, mosquito-borne disease has become a major public health threat in the country. Just three years ago, a number of Americans in Florida and Texas contracted the Zika virus, and the rate of West Nile infections has been steadily increasing in the US since the disease was introduced into the country two decades ago. This year, the mosquito-borne disease known as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has infected and killed an unprecedented number of people in the country. While no human EEE cases have occured in Louisiana this year, it should be known that urban-dwelling mosquito species in the state are capable of transmitting the disease to humans and certain animals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US sees seven EEE cases per year on average, but 2019 has already seen well over 30 EEE cases, and EEE season has not yet ended. In fact, the latest victim of EEE succumbed to the disease two days ago, which marked the 13th death to result from EEE infection this year in the US. So far, EEE has been reported in the northeast, around the Great Lakes and in Florida, but most states are home to mosquito species that are capable of transmitting the disease to humans. In many states, including Louisiana, mosquitoes frequently transmit EEE to dogs, cats and horses. In Louisiana, 16 horses were recently found to be infected with EEE, which public health officials in the state claim is an unusually high number of EEE infections. 

Mosquitoes acquire the microorganisms that cause EEE by consuming the blood of certain bird species. After feeding on infected birds, mosquitoes can then transmit the disease to humans through their bites. Uninfected mosquitoes can also acquire the disease by feeding on the blood of infected animals. This is why mosquitoes that can carry EEE are often referred to as “bridge vectors,” as they are solely responsible for exposing the bird-virus to healthy humans. Around 30 percent of those who contract EEE will die from the disease, and no vaccines exist for EEE. Also, no medical treatments have been demonstrated to slow the progression of EEE infection, and most people who contact the disease die from consequent brain swelling within a month or two following infection. Since EEE poses a serious public health threat in Louisiana during most of the year, residents should never leave home without first applying DEET repellent. Unfortunately, experts state that EEE cannot be eradicated from an area once local mosquitoes begin carrying the disease.

Do you worry about the possibility of contracting EEE from mosquito bites?

Do Some Types Of Garden Plants Actually Repel Mosquitoes As Advertised?

Mosquitoes have always been nuisance biting pests within urban and suburban areas, but these days, several non-native mosquito species have established an urban habitat in many areas of the US, and multiple mosquito-borne diseases have been discovered in recent years. Numerous products have been put on the market that purport to control mosquito pests around homes, but their effectiveness has been questioned. Some of these mosquito control products include citronella candles, electrified bug zappers, and lightbulbs that supposedly repel mosquitoes. Unfortunately, research has shown that such products fail to control mosquito populations. It is also not uncommon to visit nurseries and floral shops that advertise certain plant species as “natural” mosquito repellents. Given the plethora of mosquito control products that do not work as advertisers claim, many people view the existence of mosquito repellent plants with suspicion. While it would be nice to simply place an abundance of plants that repel mosquitoes into a home garden, there are few if any research studies that have offered up evidence that certain plant species can effectively reduce the number of foraging mosquitoes in and around homes.

The plant species, Pelargonium graveolens, is sold in many stores where it is usually labeled as the “citrosa” plant, or simply as the “mosquito plant.” This plant is a rose geranium and it is commonly advertised as being an effective mosquito repellent. While this species’ essential oils, which smell like lemon, do have mosquito repellent properties, placing these plants in a garden or on a patio will not reduce the number of mosquitoes in a yard, or residents from sustaining bites. In order to make use of this plant’s essential oils for anti-mosquito purposes, numerous leaves would have to be rubbed on the skin. However, a few lemon-scented herbs have been shown to repel mosquitoes more effectively than citrosa, such as lemon balm and lemon thyme. The lemon-scented plants that are often advertised as mosquito repellents will not keep mosquitoes away simply by sitting on a porch because the essential oils that mosquitoes avoid are not emitted by the plants. That being said, burning or boiling many lemon-scented plants will release their essential oils into the air, providing residents with some degree of protection from mosquito bites.

Have you ever purchased mosquito repellent plants with the hope that they would work as advertised?

 

 

Which Water Sources Provide Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes With Ideal Breeding Sites, And Which Water Sources Do Mosquitoes Avoid?

The threat of mosquito-borne disease has prompted officials with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and statewide public health agencies to educate the public on how to avoid mosquito bites and how to better control the pests within populated areas. For example, it should now be common knowledge that removing sources of standing water from residential yards and urban areas helps to keep mosquitoes out of human-populated areas, and therefore, helps to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. The most common sources of standing water within residential yards include discarded plastic cups and cans, garbage receptacle lids, tires, buckets, kiddie pools, grill covers, flower pots, and recycle bins. Some residents are better about keeping these common sources of standing water out of their yards than others. Those who do not bother with this method of mosquito control often assume that removing incredibly small sources of water from one single yard will do little to keep mosquitoes away. This assumption is particularly prevalent in neighborhoods that are located near a large body of water. However, mosquitoes prefer small collections of stagnant water, like puddles, as a breeding site, and not so much large bodies of water, like a river.Customer Service

Obviously, it is impossible to remove all sources of standing water from human-populated areas. In the humid southeast US where rainfall is frequent, there is only so much residents can do to prevent the formation of standing water, and this is why mosquitoes are particularly common in this region. It is important to know, however, that the most dangerous mosquito species rely largely on small sources of standing water in urban and suburban areas for reproduction, and not at all on permanent and natural water sources where a current can disturb a female mosquito’s ability to plant eggs. This makes even a narrow and shallow creek useless as a mosquito breeding site, as the current is too strong to allow mosquito larvae to emerge upon maturation. A water puddle that forms following a bout of rain, on the other hand, is an ideal source of standing water for mosquitoes, as the shallow and stagnant water is optimal for larval development. Of course, a water puddle is one common breeding site that humans cannot easily reduce, but most other breeding sources are provided by humans. If more people were aware that the two most significant disease-carrying mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, relied almost solely on stagnant water sources in urban and suburban regions, it is probable that more people would make an effort to remove these water sources on their property.

Do you make a point to remove standing water sources from your yard?

Is The Ecosystem Negatively Affected By The Eradication Of Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes?

Unfortunately, mosquitoes are abundant on this planet, as there exists more than 3,500 species discovered so far. Considering that malaria alone kills more than one million people per year, it would seem that eradicating all mosquitoes from the planet would be a good thing, right?Female Aedes Mosquito

While the mosquito is, in fact, the deadliest animal in the world, eradicating every species that exists would be considered overkill by most experts. Of the more than 3,500 hundred mosquito species that exist, only around 200 hundred transmit disease to humans, and not all species require tropical locations with wet and humid conditions in order to thrive. In fact, mosquitoes have adapted to just about every type of habitat in the world during the course of their 100 million years of existence. As a result of their adaptability, they have coevolved with many other animal species, making the insects essential components in most of earth’s ecosystems. Despite this, some researchers have good reason to believe that eradicating some mosquito species from particular regions may not be a bad idea.

Experts have traditionally claimed that eradicating even one single mosquito species could have a dramatic effect on their native ecosystem, as mosquitoes provide numerous animals with food, and many species are active pollinators of a variety of different plant species. However, a few researchers believe that the ecological necessity of mosquitoes is often overstated, as the ecosystem has the ability to recover from an animal group’s extinction.

It is likely that the void left by the sudden absence of mosquitoes would quickly be filled by other existing organisms, and most forms of life would continue to thrive despite their loss. For example, in a region of western Africa, scientists have already shown that not a single native animal species in the region would suffer on account of the complete loss of the native malaria-carrying mosquito species known as An. gambiae. One notable medical entomologist, Carlos Brisola Marcondes, even claimed that humanity would benefit tremendously from a total eradication of all mosquito species. Perhaps humankind can do without bloodsucking and disease-carrying airborne creatures after all.

Do you believe that mosquitoes will be absent in the future world?

 

 

 

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