Giant mosquitoes flourish in floodwaters that hurricanes leave behind

first_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here The Anatomy of Fear Please enter your name here Free webinar for job seekers on best interview answers, hosted by Goodwill June 11 By Michael Reiskind , Assistant Professor of Entomology, North Carolina State University, and first published on After Hurricane Florence, reports started rolling in of “giant mosquito” sightings – and bitings – throughout North Carolina. What’s going on with these mega mosquitoes that can be as big as a quarter?As a mosquito biologist, I often get asked to identify a mosquito based upon someone’s verbal report of the little buggers. I usually do OK with an educated guess based on descriptions like “It had striped legs, and was brown” or “It looked kind of purple.”What I have always struggled with is when someone says “It was little” or “It was pretty big.” For the most part, size is not a good identifying feature of the common mosquitoes Americans encounter close to home.This is because you can grow relatively large mosquitoes or small ones just depending on the conditions where they grow up – what entomologists call their larval environment. If the larval environment has few other competing mosquitoes, or is rich in nutrients, or has a cool temperature, the result is larger adult mosquitoes.You’ll see these mosquitoes coming your way. Joanna Poe/Flickr, CC BY-SAThere are a couple of species of mosquitoes that are truly gigantic, though. If someone says they saw a big mosquito, and I follow up with “big for a mosquito, or too big to even be a mosquito?” and they say “too big to be a mosquito, but it was biting me,” then I know we truly have one of a couple species of “giant” mosquitoes.Under normal circumstances, these giant, biting mosquitoes – known locally here in North Carolina as “gallinippers” or scientifically as Psorophora ciliata or Psorophora howardi – are quite rare. They are two of about 175 species of mosquitoes we have in the United States. Their moment in the spotlight comes after major flooding events, like we had with Hurricane Florence. These mosquitoes can be as much as three times larger than their more typical cousins.The gallinippers belong to a genus of mosquitoes that specialize in responding to floods. Females produce lots of eggs, which they spread out around areas that might flood, such as wet meadows, floodplain forests or even agricultural land. Those eggs are resistant to desiccation – that is, they aren’t damaged by dry conditions – so they can wait around for a flood the following year, forming an “egg bank.” The eggs are fertilized as the female lays them, from sperm she’s stored during mating. In order to get the blood meals necessary to make many eggs, these mosquitoes are aggressive feeders on mammals, and maybe other vertebrates occasionally.But evolving to a giant size doesn’t seem necessary to carry out these tasks. Indeed, many other species in this genus are not giants; they’re more typically mosquito-sized. So what separates the gallinipper?One possibility is the fact that gallinippers, as larvae, prey on other mosquito larvae. Perhaps their size is an adaptation to consuming other floodwater mosquitoes, allowing them to more easily capture and consume smaller species? The more typical-sized mosquitoes that use floodwaters are not predators. Size may also allow them to produce many more eggs, which can also be an advantage when the floodwaters come.Psorophora ciliata feasting. Matthew Bertone, Author provided (No reuse)Gallinippers have a painful bite that is usually well noticed by human victims, so the large numbers that emerged after Florence have received lots of attention.While being bitten by a giant mosquito may not seem like a great thing, there are reasons to take heart. First, these mosquitoes likely get just one good blood meal in their lives, limiting their ability to transmit a pathogen. As far as entomologists know, they don’t transmit any pathogens to people. And since, as larvae, these giants eat other mosquitoes, maybe one big bite is worth 10 small ones? Finally, it’s a great post-hurricane brag to announce “I got bit by a giant freakin’ mosquito!”Other good news is that the adults likely don’t live more than a couple of weeks, so the great boom of mosquitoes from Florence is winding down. Of course, now it looks like Hurricane Michael may bring about another round of gallinippers. Winter does end the most immediate threat, but all those eggs are still out there, awaiting next year’s floodwaters.and Previous articleApopka Tractor Supply hosting pet treat tastingNext articleBiography of an Apopka icon: The life and times of Billie Dean coming in 2020 Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Please enter your comment! Support conservation and fish with NEW Florida specialty license plate Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.last_img read more

Welch wants to use Vermont food for federal school lunch program

first_imgWith school back in session and farmers throughout the state struggling to get back on their feet after Tropical Storm Irene, Rep. Peter Welch today introduced legislation to allow Vermont to use federal funds to buy local produce for schools. Vermont schools currently receive produce from a regional distribution center in Rhode Island under the Department of Defense (DOD) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The program ‘ a joint partnership between the DOD and Department of Agriculture ‘ was created in 1994 and uses the DOD’s existing food distribution network.Welch’s Fresh and Local School Foods Act would create a three-state pilot program that would allow participants to opt-out of the DOD program and spend those funds instead on local fruits and vegetables.”Vermont has a vibrant community of farmers who provide fresh and nutritious food to our state,” Welch said. “Many of those same farmers were devastated by Tropical Storm Irene and are struggling to bet back on their feet. This bill will give local farmers a much-needed boost, strengthen Vermont’s economy and provide children with fresh, local and nutritious food.” The pilot program could help Vermont direct $90,000 in federal support to local agriculture throughout the state.last_img read more

Lakers’ Brandon Ingram credits improved shooting to consistent work habits

first_imgEL SEGUNDO >> The reason seems as simple as Brandon Ingram’s mannerisms. As he experienced shooting slumps, the Lakers rookie forward worked in extra shooting sessions before practice and before games with assistant coach Brian Keefe. Ingram has also visited the Lakers practice facility late at night. During that time, the Lakers offered a similar message.“You’re not working for right now; you’re working for the future,” Ingram said of that message. “‘Everything we’re doing now will help in the long run.” Ingram still has shown some passiveness. After shooting an air ball in Tuesday’s loss to Denver, Ingram passed up a few open looks shortly afterward. “I did mess up on not taking those open shots. But shooters keep shooting,” Ingram said. “I definitely need to keep shooting and trusting myself. My teammates and coaches are definitely telling me to stay with it.” Injury updateAny movement forward Larry Nance Jr. made on the practice floor represented improvement after missing the past 16 games nursing a bone bruise in his left knee.Despite completing practices on Wednesday and Thursday without any reported setbacks, Nance will not play on Friday against Indiana. The Lakers plan to reevaluate Nance’s knee on Friday evening and provide an update on Saturday for his availability for Sunday’s game in Dallas.“If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have missed any time,” Nance said. “But I’m just happy to be nearing getting back out on the court.”What’s in a name?Whenever the two teammates banter with each other, Nance has often addressed rookie center Ivica Zubac without saying his actual name. That’s because Nance has formulated plenty of nicknames that are deemed too many to count. Nance shared a new one on Twitter by calling Zubac “Zu Alcindor” a play off of the former Lew Alcindor turned Kareem Abdul-Jabbar amid Zubac’s efforts to imitate his sky hook. Nance shared his other favorite nicknames for Zubac, named after Lakers teammates and other NBA players. They include: Kareem Abdul-Zabbar, Zuol Deng, Zulius Randle, Zwight Howard, Zu Williams and Zupac, in reference to late rapper, Tupac. Nance also teased Zubac for contending he did not play one-on-one this week because he was scared. “Isn’t it always a child’s job to talk trash to their dad?” Nance said. “I talk trash to my dad. He hasn’t beaten me. I haven’t beaten my dad. That’s how it goes.” Some of that work has already paid off. The Lakers (15-31) enter Friday’s game against the Indiana Pacers (22-19) at Staples Center with Ingram averaging 11.1 points on 46.8 percent shooting through 10 games this month, a sharp increase from his season average of 8.2 points on a 37.3 percent clip. “If you put in the work, your numbers will get better,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “It’s that simple. He continues to put in the work.”Walton has no plans to start Ingram other than for injury and rest purposes. Ingram might start for the second consecutive game since the Lakers listed Luol Deng as questionable with a sprained right wrist. Yet, Ingram has led the Lakers in minutes this season (1,285) and averages a league-leading 27.9 minutes per game among rookies (27.9). While that increased playing time has allowed Ingram to become more comfortable with his shot, it has also correlated with increased efficiency. “It’s been an adjustment with just floating around a little bit and being more aggressive,” Ingram said. “Coach has put me in the right position and I’m trying to thrive through it.” center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more