HOUSTON – Mosquitoes: These annoying pests that take a hefty bite.
In a lab in the far north of Harris County, a special mosquito brand is bred to fight the problem in the fourth district.
"There are currently about 58 different species of mosquitoes living in Harris County. Of these, 57 actually take a blood meal to produce eggs. The one mosquito that is there and does not take a blood meal is actually not a mosquito. And we use this to get rid of some of the others, "said Anita Schiller.
This particular breed is known as a mosquito bomber.
"It is the butterfly of the flyworld. They are beautifully adorned with blue and gold scales, all over their beautiful little bodies, "said Schiller.
Schiller calls himself a "committed naturalist" and heads the Precinct Four Biological Control Initiative's laboratory, where scientists can breed up to 86,000 mosquito bombers in one month. Once they are bred, they can not possibly begin their mission.
"Mosquito bombers lay their eggs in the same containers, the same vessels, the same habitat as these pests. While they are in the water, they feed on them, "said Schiller. "Well, an eaten mosquito is a mosquito that flies over the sting."
These mosquito bombers are also currently working in the Cockrell Butterfly Center at the Houston Museum of Natural History in Houston's Museum District to bring the butterflies to safety.
"The Cockrell has a few blind mosquitoes. And of course that's not exactly desirable, but they can not do anything about it with pesticides, because if they do, they'll kill all the butterflies, "Schiller said.
So Schiller decided to use the mosquito bombers to kill the blind mosquitoes and collect data on their effects.
"Perfect marriage," said Schiller.
BCI's work is fully supported by Harris County Precinct Four District Commissioner Jack Cagle.
He said he was excited to develop a more natural approach to mosquito control.
"By developing our own native mosquitoes that do not bite us but are also pollinators, we need more pollinators. You like your flowers, you need pollinators. So we can help our environment and protect ourselves by working with nature and not trying to strike it, "said Cagle.
But will there be a day when the mosquito bombers are no longer needed?
Schiller says no. But says they will continue to help.
"I have to burst this bubble, this dream. That will not happen. You alone will not be the cure. However, if we use them together and in an integrated approach with other control strategies, perhaps we can achieve the double victory, "said Schiller.
And while these mosquito bombers are helping to quell the mosquito population, there are still things you can do to help as you protect your home and your environment from mosquitoes.
Reduce the number of breeding sites near your property.
As female mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, reducing the amount of stagnant water minimizes the number of hatcheries and limits the number of mosquitoes. Check the gutters, old tires, cans and containers, and the saucers on the bottom of the flower pots for stagnant water, which may become a breeding ground for mosquitoes ̵
Kill mosquito larvae
About three days after laying, mosquito eggs hatch into larvae. If you have standing water on your property, eg. For example, for bird baths, you must change the water weekly to kill the larvae.
Keep your home mosquito free.
Mosquitoes love light. If possible, reduce the external lighting known for mosquitoes. Also check windows and screens for spots where mosquitoes can creep in.
Finding the right mosquito repellent for you
The Environmental Protection Agency has developed an easy to use insect repellent search tool that's perfect for your lifestyle and needs. Click here to try it.
West Nile Virus and She
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the West Nile virus is the "leading cause of mosquito-borne diseases in the United States of America. Usually spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. "
Harris County Public Health's mosquito and vector control suggests that wild birds can transmit many diseases. Although killing domestic cats is the leading cause of death for birds in our area, you should take it seriously if you find a dead bird in your area.
To report a dead bird, you can use this form. According to HCPH mosquito and vector control, the department tests dead birds if they meet the following criteria: No signs of trauma, less than a day dead and no signs of ants or maggots.
To search for reports on the West Nile virus in your area, click here.
Copyright 2019 by KPRC Click2Houston – All Rights Reserved.