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Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Projected Extinction of Mosquitoes

I was diligently scanning microfilm yesterday when I ran across this little blurb: 
Extinction of Mosquito
Seen by '73.
WASHINGTON, By 1973, just nine years
after the start of an antimosquito
campaign, the Aedes aegypti will be
eradicated from the United States,
according to the Public Health Service.
Yellow Fever Mosquito
Aedes Aegypti

Granted, the article was published May 15, 1967, but there still lingers a wistful plea--please, please, please, no more mosquitoes! Anyone plagued by the miniature beasts nowadays can see that this article was published prematurely. (I think one of those bloodthirsty suckers got me this morning on my walk!)

According to the CDC, there are 3,500 different species of mosquitoes. I am blown away by that number: 3,500. There are 3,500 different types of mosquitoes out there trying to rob me of my blood?! I don't stand a chance, do I? Well, possibly...

WebMD claims that only one out of every ten people are highly attractive to mosquitoes, beacons of blood, so to speak. These tend to be people who "have high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on their skin surface." People who produce large amounts of acids (e.g., lactic acid, uric acid, etc...) or carbon dioxide are in high demand, too. Body heat and motion also send out a "Please dine here!" vibe. (My oh-so-logical plan of being a moving target is all for naught.) All of my skinny friends up North who like to lounge about in the shade--you're in the clear.

Mosquito Fish
Gambusia Affinis
If you're in my boat, the not-so-skinny person living in the South boat, the Mississippi Department of Health has some great tips to make your living area bug-free. For instance, have you ever heard tell of a mosquito fish? These native Mississippians love to gobble up this pesky flier, so much so that they start eating skeeter larvae "from the day that they're born." Eat, little fishies! Eat! (Be sure to check out their site for additional interesting mosquito repelling techniques.)

WebMD offers the old standby DEET as a protectant, but also exorts that other, newer products will do the trick. Picaridin (Cutter Advanced), Skin-So-Soft (IR3535), and Metofluthrin (DeckMate) all keep the pesky critters away. (Some are, naturally, better than others.) For the back-to-nature lovers, soybean oil based repellants and oil of lemon eucalyptus (Repel) will offer relief.

I'm off to stock up on sprays and calamine lotion. See you at the pharmacy! 
Science Service Washington. "Extinction of Mosquito Seen by '73." Clarion-Ledger 15 May 1967: A4. Print. 

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