Wednesday, July 1, 2009
MOSQUITOS - July 2, 2009
I see from the internet that Dane County is suffering from a plague of mosquitoes. To a greater or lesser degree, that is the story every year, but the remedy offered each time seems to be restricted to long sleeves and insect repellents, which are far from adequate to the assault. There are things in the biological world that could make a difference, but they are not nearly free, so the WI answer is simply to bear it. Among the simplest is the fostering of animals that feed on the pests. Among these, the ones that come to mind most simply are bats, purple martins, and dragonflies. All have drawbacks, of course, but are affordable. The bats require a well insulated place in which to hibernate for the winter, and these need not be close to populations centers. Bats are prodigious in the number of mosquitoes each can eat, most notably at dawn and twilight, but also at night. If their centers were placed rurally, in areas closest to the swamps, they would not be a nuisance to people. And large colonies of bats could keep each other warm over the winter. Purple martins like to live in communal nests, and they eat mosquitoes in the brilliant sunlight. Like the bats, they would leave their droppings near the location of their multiple dwellings. Dragonflies are known in the area of New Orleans as “skeeterhawks”. It would cost a lot to breed millions, but the same swamps that raise their nymphs could provide plenty of mosquito larvae for nourishment. The US DoA raises multitudes of sterilized screw-worm flies to protect the cattle industry of the SW, so why would the safety and comfort of people not bring similar support? There are other means available from the biology of the pests, so why aren’t we investing in those for our health and safety?