The lowly mosquito.
We spend time and money on preventing these winged bugs from noshing on us. We buy sprays, weird salves, nets and tarps for our tents. We buy specially-scented candles to ward them off around barbecues, campfires and Adirondack chairs. Our municipal governments invest in spraying forests and land to ward them off.
But they have upsides too: Scientists are studying how genetically-modified versions of the bug could be used to fight off diseases like dengue fever. Meanwhile, scientists are studying how the bug adapts to areas that have been affected by study and human tampering, even when its in the name of research. From the New York Times article, When Mutant Mosquitoes Attack:
“Researchers have yet to prove definitively that mosquitoes are adapting their behavior in response to nets, but Haenn brought up the possibility to make a point: By solving certain problems, we often create new ones. For Haenn, who is part of an interdisciplinary program at N.C. State aimed at inserting discussions about ethics and responsibility into the early stages of biotech research, the side effects of scientific meddling weigh heavily.”
Mosquitoes aren’t to be taken lightly, but they are also deserve respect in their natural habitats while we grow to understand them. So in honor of this buzzing harbinger of West Nile virus, we offer this to you this Monday, three factoids on mosquitoes, from this National Park Service report:
1. Their wings beat about 300-600 times per second.
2. Only females bite animals and humans for blood
3. Their lifespan is 3 to 100 days.
Now, go crush your next trivia night!