Do Mosquitoes Serve A Purpose?

What Purpose Do Mosquitoes Have?

What is the purpose of a mosquito?
What is the purpose of a mosquito?

Mosquitoes seem to serve no other purpose than to be the uninvited guest at all of our outdoor functions. They buzz, they bite, and just seem to annoy everyone! It is hard to imagine life without mosquitoes, but can we survive without them

We know they make great food for birds, frogs, fish, spiders, and other animals. Mosquitoes make up a small part of the diet of some, but others like the mosquitofish, which specializes in eating the larvae, might become extinct. But most other animals already eat enough of something else, or could change their diet, so they wouldn’t go hungry without mosquitoes.

Without mosquitoes disease among humans would decrease, if the mosquitoes that spread malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis, west nile, and other sicknesses all disappeared! With that being said, fewer people would die, so we would have more people here on Earth, especially in the countries that are already having trouble supporting their populations. Humans would be healthier, more productive, and would not have to spend time caring for so many that are sick.

Plants need pollination
Plants need pollination

Mosquito Larvae consume organic matter in the wetlands, helping recycle nutrients back into the ecosystem. Different larvae and other water dwelling creatures also do the same and could take over that job. Adult mosquitoes feed on nectar as well as blood–in fact, nectar is all the adult males eat. Plants may suffer due to lack of pollinators if mosquitoes stopped visiting.

When imagining a world without mosquitoes, you must imagine that they were killed in a way that was harmless to other creatures, and that’s part of the reason we can’t just eliminate them, as much as we’d like to! Insecticides will kill not only the mosquitoes, but other animals too. Even specially targeted natural larvicides, kill a few closely related species such as black flies and gnats.

The thought of every living thing having a vital place in nature may not be enough to plead the mosquito’s case. So even though mosquitoes don’t seem to have a purpose, other than to cause us annoyance and misery, we can’t just get rid of them right now, without doing more harm to other species that are more useful.

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Labor Day – How To Keep The Mosquitoes Away!

Labor Day and Your Special Day – How To Keep Mosquitoes Away

Dread Skeeter tells those mosquitoes "bite me"

With the Labor day holiday upon us, many households will be hosting backyard celebrations. All the preparations, guest lists and planning you are working on should also include mosquito and tick control and prevention. Special events are an important time to make certain that you and your guests don’t get bitten while outdoors at your home or special event.

Mosquitoes and ticks are vectors for illnesses such as Lyme disease, West Nile Virus and many other dangerous and debilitating diseases. Don’t put you or the health of your guests at risk. Even though autumn is right around the corner, and many feel that summer is coming to an end, we are actually in the height of mosquito and tick season. Now more than ever it is important to stay focused and keep your property protected from mosquitoes.

Mosquito

Mosquito Squad of the West Michigan and Grand Rapids is still receiving requests for mosquito and tick control for other special events such as wedding, graduation and birthday parties as well as other special events. Many of these events are larger in size than your average backyard barbecue and seating accommodations are sometimes placed near taller grasses or back up to the edges of your property or wooded areas.  Cases such as this make it crucial to treat your property to kill ticks as well as mosquitoes, since high grass and bushes are where ticks like to hide.

Mosquito Squad spraying your yard

Aside from any special upcoming event, mosquito and tick control will also ensure you can enjoy the rest of your summer in your yard without the threat of being bitten. Even though the kids are back in school and vacation time has come to an end, there is no reason you can’t enjoy the long afternoons outside with your family and friends. Anytime can be special, even the smallest moments.

Call us now to make sure your Labor day celebration or other special event goes off without a hitch. We are now taking appointments to have you safe and sound for the Labor day weekend. Our safe and effective barrier sprays kill mosquitoes and ticks and prevent mosquitoes from entering the treated area as well. Don’t delay call today. Call us today for a free quote • (616) 994-8220

Snakes Guard Mosquito-Borne Virus Through the Winter

Snakes Guard Mosquito-Borne Virus Through the Winter

Recent studies find that a mosquito borne virus is being carried through snakes during the cold winter season.

The New York Times mentions “The Eastern equine encephalomyelitis virus is found from Florida to Massachusetts and in parts of Latin America. The virus causing the disease normally circulates only in birds, but when it jumps to mammals, it kills 90 percent of infected horses — and about a third of the roughly 10 Americans who get it each year.”

Unfortunately though for this virus, birds fly away for the winter and unlike the West Nile Virus, the “triple E virus” cannot survive in hibernating mosquitoes so it needed to find an alternate route.

Scientists were intrigued by this and began examining mosquitoes and within their, for lack of a better word, guts, the blood of snakes was found. The researchers infected garter snakes in the lab with the virus and then made them “hibernate” in refrigerators. Through all of this, the virus survived.

Scientists then ventured out into the Tuskegee National Forest swamp in Alabama, vacuuming mosquitoes out of beaver dens and drawing blood from poisonous cottonmouths. Virus levels in the snakes peaked in the spring and fall, said Thomas R. Unnasch, lead author of the study. “Snakes’ immune systems work better when it’s warm,” he said, “so they do not clear the virus in cool weather. In spring, when they venture out to warm up, mosquitoes pick up the virus again by biting snakes.” And when he says bite, he doesn’t mean the mosquitoes pierce through the skin of the snake, but enter through their eyes.

Now I think the next step for these scientists is to find a way to keep the snakes from holding onto the virus all winter long!

Summer Ending Mosquitoes

Now that the summer of 2012 has come to an end most people tend to think that mosquitoes are not going to be such a big deal anymore.

This year may be a little different with all the stories of West Nile Virus in the news everyday and now Michigan is in the top 5 for states with the most cases.

So, even though the nights are getting shorter and cooler and the kids are back in school and maybe you are not spending as much time outdoors as you used to, the mosquitoes are still around and will be until we get a good frost. Now is not the time to forget about practicing the 5-T’s.

Culex mosquitos (Culex quinquefasciatus shown)...
Culex mosquitos (Culex quinquefasciatus shown) are biological vectors that transmit West Nile Virus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If anything you should be even more concerned now than you were at the height of the summer.

The fall season is also a time where we see an uptick in the number of ticks that are around, don’t forget that we also can treat your yard to get rid of these little pests also.

If you have forgotten what our 5-T’s are you can always give Mosquito Squad of Grand Rapids a call at 616-662-1103 and we will be more than happy to discuss the steps you can take to make your yard less appealing to mosquitoes for the late summer/fall season.

Kent County West Nile Virus Epidemic

An 86-year-old woman from Wayne County is the fourth person to die from West Nile virus in Michigan this year, health officials announced Wednesday, with one expert saying the mosquito infection rate is at its peak in the state.

On a conference call with reporters, Dean Sienko, interim chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health, said there have been 80 human cases of West Nile this year in the state. The patient required hospitalization in 62 of those cases.

In all of 2011, Michigan recorded 34 human cases of West Nile virus and two deaths.

“I think it’s serious. We are having an epidemic of West Nile virus activity in Michigan,” Sienko said. “We are seeing the highest numbers that we have seen since 2002 in Michigan. (The Centers for Disease Control) is predicting that the national numbers will be the highest numbers that we have ever seen. This is something that people need to pay attention to.”

Ned Walker, chief investigator at Michigan State University’s insect microbiology lab, said “the mosquito infection rate is at its peak,” it will extend into the end of September or early October.

Mosquitoes pick up the virus from birds they bite and then pass it to people. In its most severe form, the virus can attack the body’s neurological system.
Mosquito Squad of Grand Rapids reminds you to follow the 5-T’s as a way to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard.
1. Tip – tip over birdbaths and flower pots weekly
2. Toss – toss bottle caps, tires anything that can hold water out in the yard.
3. Turn – turn over dog dishes, wheelbarrows, plastic swimming pools, kids toys ect.
4. Tarp – make sure any tarps in the yard are pulled tight so that they cannot retain water
5. Treat – have your yard treated for mosquitoes, not your body.

West Nile Virus

I have noticed in the last few weeks, many articles on West Nile Virus showing up all across the country. The season for WNV seems to have gotten an early start due to the light winter and early spring that happened across the country.

To keep from getting WNV, one should do all that is possible to keep from getting bit by mosquitoes.

How to stay “bite-free”

• Use insect repellent according to label instructions

• Choose the correct concentration of “DEET” for your outdoor activity

• The higher concentrations of active “repellent” will provide longer  duration of protection, and products with ≤10 percent active ingredient may  offer only limited protection, often from 1–2 hours.

• Reapply the insect repellent according to the label instructions

• Limit DEET containing repellents to not more than 10 percent on young  children

• Pyrethrum may be applied to your clothing, shoes, jackets, etc

• Never apply to children’s fingers, hands and “near the mouth”

• Always apply the spray to you first and then to your child

• Avoid applying repellents to areas near the mouth and eyes

• Some botanical oils [for example, oil of lemon and eucalyptus] can provide  protection (although in most

studies, they will not necessarily last as long as DEET containing  repellents)

• Keep your screens in optimal condition to keep mosquitoes out

• Wear long sleeves and pants, especially when hiking

• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and “tucking” in as well as  wearing socks and “closed shoes”.

• Do a “tick” check after exposure

• Avoid dusk and dawn, and during the evening after dark. This may reduce the  day’s “prime biting” time periods

• After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe,  similarly wash “treated clothing” before wearing again.

Have your yard professionaly treated by Mosquito Squad  http://www.grandrapids.mosquitosquad.com

 

There are stories daily of people being diagnoised with the disease. What are the symptons of WNV?

Q. What are the symptoms of West Nile virus (WNV) infection? A. Infection with WNV can be asymptomtic (no symptoms), or can lead to West Nile fever or severe West Nile disease.

It is estimated that about 20% of people who become infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks.

The symptoms of severe disease (also called neuroinvasive disease, such as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis) include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 150 persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of disease. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, however people over age 50 and some immunocompromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV.

Most people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with West Nile virus will not develop any type of illness (an asymptomatic infection), however you cannot know ahead of time if you’ll get sick or not when infected.

Q. What is the incubation period in humans (i.e., time from infection to onset of disease symptoms) for West Nile disease? A. Usually 2 to 15 days.

Q. How long do symptoms last? A. Symptoms of West Nile fever will generally last a few days, although even some healthy people report having the illness last for several weeks. The symptoms of severe disease (encephalitis or meningitis) may last several weeks, although neurological effects may be permanent.

Q. What is meant by West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis, West Nile poliomyelitis, “neuroinvasive disease” and West Nile fever? A. The most severe type of disease due to a person being infected with West Nile virus is sometimes called “neuroinvasive disease,” because it affects a person’s nervous system. Specific types of neuroinvasive disease include: West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis, West Nile meningoencephalitis and West Nile poliomyelitis. Encephalitis refers to an inflammation of the brain, meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord, meningoencephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain and the membrane surrounding it, and poliomyelitis refers to an inflammation of the spinal cord.

West Nile Fever is another type of illness that can occur in people who become infected with the virus. It is characterized by fever, headache, tiredness, aches and sometimes rash. Although the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have been sick for several weeks.

Q. If I have West Nile Fever, can it turn into West Nile encephalitis? A. When someone is infected with West Nile virus (WNV) they will typically have one of three outcomes: No symptoms (most likely), West Nile fever (WNF in about 20% of people) or severe West Nile disease, such as meningitis or encephalitis (less than 1% of those who get infected). If you develop a high fever with severe headache, consult your health care provider.

West Nile fever is characterized by symptoms such as fever, body aches, headache and sometimes swollen lymph glands and rash. West Nile fever generally lasts only a few days, though in some cases symptoms have been reported to last longer, even up to several weeks. West Nile fever does not appear to cause any permanent health effects. There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. People with West Nile fever recover on their own, though symptoms can be relieved through various treatments (such as medication for headache and body aches, etc.).

Some people may develop a brief, WNF-like illness (early symptoms) before they develop more severe disease, though the percentage of patients in whom this occurs is not known.

Occasionally, an infected person may develop more severe disease such as “West Nile encephalitis,” “West Nile meningitis” or “West Nile meningoencephalitis.” Encephalitis refers to an inflammation of the brain, meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord, and meningoencephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain and the membrane surrounding it. Although there is no treatment for WNV infection itself, the person with severe disease often needs to be hospitalized. Care may involve nursing IV fluids, respiratory support, and prevention of secondary infections.