By spreading malaria, dengue fever, West Nile, yellow fever and now the Zika virus, they are the most dangerous animal in the world. What would happen if we got rid of them? It sounds like a promising idea, but what would take their place and would the rainforests survive?
"This is quite a large epidemic, so another question is how did this get so big so fast? And no one has the answer," said Hotez. "There's nothing really published, most of what we’re going on are World Health Organization alerts." First case of tropical zika virus linked to serious birth defect found in Texas (Jessica Glenza, The Guardian); What You Need To Know About the Zika Virus (Alexandra Ossola, Popular Science); CDC home page for resources and information; FAQ from Pan American Health Organization
a mosquito being hit by a raindrop is roughly the equivalent of a human being whacked by a school bus, the typical bus being about 50 times the mass of a person. And worse, when it’s raining hard, each mosquito should expect to get smacked, grazed, or shoved by a raindrop every 25 seconds. So rain should be dangerous to a mosquito. And yetwhy aren't mosquitos hurt or killed by raindrops?
ICHI's song GO GAGAMBO opens with a universally recognisable mosquito hum, then proceeds with a catchy, familiar-sounding bass line, strummed out on a long, thin insect-like home-made instrument, while the vocals are punk-like, small and high-pitched, in the language of the insect itself. It’s a song about mistaken identity - (gagambo is an insect unfortunate enough to be mistaken as a big mosquito, resulting in probable death by angry clapping hands), and it is a clever blend of the familiar and the bizarre. [more inside]
New GM technique injects mosquitoes with a gene that results in mostly male offspring, eventually leading to a population crash. Previous efforts to tackle the disease, that kills more than 1 million people each year – most of whom are African children – have included bed nets to protect people and insecticides to kill the mosquito species most responsible for the transmission of malaria (Anopheles gambiae). The new technique by a team at Imperial College London involves injecting mosquitoes with a gene that causes the vast majority of their offspring to be male, leading to an eventual dramatic decline in population within six generations as females disappear. “You have a short-term benefit because males don’t bite humans [and transmit malaria],” Andrea Crisanti, one of the authors of the new research, which was published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, told the Guardian. “But in the long term you will eventually eradicate or substantially reduce mosquitoes. This could make a substantial contribution to eradicating malaria, combined with other tools such as insecticides.”
These new mosquitoes are now set to be used in Brazil, having been approved for use by the Brazilian government with a factory for their production now opened.[more inside]
Here's what happens inside you when a mosquito bites (with videos for your everlasting horror).
Because what the news reports hadn’t mentioned was that Gallinippers have quite literally evolved for the apocalypse. Their mummified eggs hatch during floods and eat their siblings first. Some even say they’re resistant to DEET, and since they suck down the larvae of competing species for nourishment, the super mosquitos are immune to biological controls. In fact, if you introduce a competing species to ward off Gallinippers, it only produces more Gallinippers. Gallinippers are born in chaos, and in chaos they thrive.[more inside]
Microworlds is the blog of biology student Daniel Stoupin, and he also has a photography website as well. His chosen subject is microphotography, especially of living things. Perhaps the best place to start is his latest post, where he uses fluorescent dyes to take pictures of a rotting flea embryo. Other favorites are shells of microscopic crustaceans, colorful plant seed fluorescence and mosquito larva in polarized light. He has also made a video, and explains the process here.
The Teenager Audio Test "Clicking the play button below will produce a tone that is generally only heard by people under the age of 25. It has been used as a deterrent device to keep teenagers from loitering in malls and shops, and sounds similar to a buzzing mosquito. The elderly and people with hearing damage often cannot hear the sound." SLTO (Single Link The Oatmeal post) [more inside]
Malaria is one of the world’s most serious health problems. No single approach has yet to fully conquer either the disease or the disease vector, the mosquito. The most common electronic means of killing mosquitoes, the “bug zapper” is not particularly effective. Using lasers to kill mosquitoes has previously been thought of as completely ridiculous. Now the concept is being taken seriously.
Teenager Repellant. Teenager Repellant. Kids loitering outside of your store? A Welsh inventor has created a device that emits a noise particularly irritating to those under 20 years of age (and no, it's not classical music.)
Winnipeg's mosquito population explodes "Heavy rains throughout June and early July have flooded farmlands and fields, leaving pools of water that are perfect for mosquito breeding." The Manitoba government has ordered Winnipeg to spray the controversial chemical malathion across the city. A survey reveals that the vast majority of Manitobans who have contracted West Nile virus have no idea they have been infected. Recommended repellants have contained the chemical DEET and sixty percent of Americans shy away from any insect repellent, even when the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus is a serious threat. CDC has more information and FAQ about insect repellent use and safety.
No More Malaria? The first step has been taken to making mosquitoes incapable of passing on malaria. But, should we?