Massive Gnat Swarms Are Invading Louisiana

The hot and humid weather in Louisiana makes the state an ideal location for a variety of mosquito species. There exists 68 mosquito species in Louisiana, several of which are known disease-vectors. These diseases include the west Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, western equine encephalitis, and California encephalitis. The west Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in Louisiana, and public health officials are determined to drastically reduce the rate at which humans contract the disease in the state.

Last year, officials found a large amount of west Nile-infected mosquitoes breeding in New Orleans’ Parishes. For example, St. Tammany Parish contained one fifth of all west Nile-infected breeding-pools in the Parish. In an effort to keep the virus under control in St. Tammany and other areas this year, public health officials are taking advantage of a novel mosquito-control method that has proven effective in other humid southeastern states, most notably Florida. In just a couple of days, Louisiana officials will, for the first time, use a helicopter to drop a anti-mosquito bacteria over neighborhoods in St. Tammany Parish.

The bacteria being dropped from the helicopter infects mosquito larvae and other flying insect pests. This bacteria is known as B. thuringiensis, but it is commonly referred to as Bt. This name may sound familiar to many people, as many strains of the Bt bacteria have been effectively used in aerial pest control programs since the 1960s. In addition to the heavy mosquito population that is already taking form in Louisiana, residents are also seeing massive gnat swarms of epidemic proportions due to flooding from the Mississippi River. These swarms are occuring in neighborhoods, where residents say outdoor conditions have become unbearable, but rural farmers are seeing the worst consequences. The swarming gnats have become so abundant that they are clogging the airways of livestock, literally suffocating numerous animals to death.

Have you ever experienced an infestation of gnats within your home?


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