The other day I attended a presentation about arboviruses, viruses transmitted by mosquitoes and other little blood-sucking shits, from Dr. Aimee Hollander at Nicholls State University. Dr. Hollander holds a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology and focuses on host-pathogen interactions. She spoke about mosquito-borne diseases and gave an overview on how local governments deal with the problem.
I love animals, but the mosquito is the one animal I generally do not like. I work in the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana and mosquitoes seem unaffected by insect repellent or constant swatting. At times, I wade in chest deep swamp water with potentially dangerous animals beneath. But it’s the mosquitoes and their shrill cry for blood that makes my hairs stick up. It’s one thing to take my blood; it’s another to give me a disease.
Diseases such as west nile, dengue, chikungunya, and zika are already detected and making their rounds in Louisiana. Additionally, there are multiple species of mosquitoes that can infect you like the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), malaria mosquito (Anopheles quadrimaculatus), floodwater mosquito (Aedes vexans) and many more.
Some local governments use insecticides or hungry mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) to control the mosquito population but there are problems associated with those methods. The repeated use of insecticides over the years have created an increasing number of pesticide-resistant mosquitoes (Nkya et al. 2013). That means pesticides are becoming less and less efficient at controlling the mosquito population. The introduction of invasive species like the mosquito fish can negatively impact native species and alter ecosystem structure in part due to their fecundity (Preston et al. 2017). I believe the most sustainable and cost-effective way of reducing mosquito populations is the continued use of mosquito fish. However, I propose we find ways to sterilize mosquito fish before releasing them into the environment. Just how we use triploid (sterile) grass carp to control aquatic weeds (Conover et al. 2007), we could use sterile mosquito fish to control mosquitoes and add them to the environment on an as-needed basis. Having a controlled population of mosquito fish could reduce their negative impact on the environment while serving as an important vector control.
Conover, G., R. Simmonds, and M. Whalen, editors. 2007. Management and control plan for bighead, black, grass, and silver carps in the United States. Asian Carp Working Group, Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, Washington, D.C. 223 pp.
Nkya, T.E., I. Akhouayri, W. Kisinza, J.P. David. 2013. Impact of environment on mosquito response to pyrethroid insecticides: Facts, evidences and prospects. Insect Biochemisty and Molecular Biology 43:407-416.
Preston, D.L., H.D. Hedman, E.R. Esfahani, E.M. Pena, C.E. Boland, K.B. Lunde, P. T.J. Johnson. 2017. Responses of wetland ecosystem to the controlled introduction of invasive fish. Freshwater Biology. doi:10.1111/fwb.12900.