That’s blood-sucking bites per minute, but settle down, Twilight fans. I’m not talking about vampires.
It wasn’t enough for Hurricane Irene to snort and blow through coastal North Carolina. She left additional parting gifts of the kind that keep on giving. Or, more accurately, taking.
Even here in Charlotte, where all we got were some stiff breezes and funny looking skies, the mosquito population seems especially obnoxious. I can’t even deadhead the roses without feeling like bait and they find poor Dearly Beloved completely irresistible. Even during afternoon walks, he gets nibbled. The female mosquitoes are the biters, you know, especially the older ones. (AS IF he doesn’t have enough to do, fending off the women who are attracted to him. Or so he says.)
Experts say that some of the Outer Banks counties are experiencing the largest concentration of mosquitoes ever found in the United States. For instance, a coastal county health official reported that a trap which usually captures 50 mosquitoes on a normal night captured 14,000 one night in the week after Hurricane Irene.
I can’t offer any advice on getting rid of them. When those pricey mosquito trappers came out some years ago, we ordered one for the beach-house-not-on-the-beach, after a grandson got an infected ear from a bite. The machine was the kind which emitted a sex pheromone to attract the female mosquito, then trap her. We set it up near the deck where it remained mosquito free the entire summer. Not the deck. . . the darned machine. It never caught a single mosquito.
DB called the manufacturer, who asked, “What kind of mosquitoes do you have there?”
Duh. The kind that live on the NC coast and bite.
“Oh. Our machine lures don’t work on your kind.”
The unsexy machine was returned for a full refund.
There are 60 different kinds of mosquitoes in North Carolina, I’ve learned. The black and brown marsh mosquitoes are leading the charge on the coast right now. Their eggs can last for years.
Until last summer, our state had a five-person panel that monitored mosquitoes and guided counties on control methods, but it got swatted last year in budget cuts. Counties are on their own now in deciding how to combat the insects and how to pay for it. The most effective option–aerial spraying–costs about $200,000.
The infestations are hindering cleanup in the areas damaged by Irene. When 200 mosquitoes a minute land on you, as one contractor reported, it’s hard to concentrate on the job at hand.
The New York Times reported Sunday that scientists in Jerusalem are having effective results in mosquito abatement with nectar poisoning. Female mosquitoes need blood to lay eggs, but they also love a good snort of nectar from ripe or rotting fruit and such is the basis for these trials. Scientists mix a poisoned nectar cocktail and spray it on tree branches. While the concoction is harmless to humans and most beneficial insects, it’s deadly to mosquitoes. The bacterial insecticide (Spinosad) they used is expensive, but they’ve also had impressive results substituting boric acid for the insecticide.
My brother claims that the mosquitoes along The Outer Banks are so large now they make a clinking noise when they hit a beer can.
I wonder what would happen if he poured out a saucer of that beer and added some boric acid. Even if it didn’t kill mosquitoes, it might take out a few slugs.
Except for the odor of rotten fruit, the boric acid/fermented nectar mix shouldn’t harm humans. I don’t know about vampires.
The New York Times story on “Double-Edged Delicacies for Mosquitoes” is here.