Thursday, April 19, 2012

Creature Feature: Tiger Mosquito.

Y'know what's really ironic? Humans are so good at killing other species that there have been movies and anime series devoted to how humanity's recklessness will wreck the planet. We eat literally everything that is edible.We should be able to kill any species we want.

Yet we suck hard at killing invasive species. There are a number of reasons for this. Sometimes, we introduce extremely fertile species by accident through the pet trade. The main carrier for invasive freshwater species is, get this, ballast water - excess water that ships take in to adjust their weight, then dump as soon as they hit port. Invasive species can get in anywhere and establish themselves thanks to the globalization of humanity...and we can't do a thing to stop them.

So when we introduce a non-native mosquito? Shoooot, we already have problems killing the bastards.


The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) is actually pretty cool-looking for a death bug. It's native to the tropical areas of Southeast Asia. If you don't already know what a female mosquito eats, I feel sorry for you...and envy your location in a mosquito-free area. They're pretty much vampires.

The strangest thing is how these mosquitoes got here: via an international trade in used tires. Stagnant water had gathered in the tires at tire dumps, allowing mosquitoes to lay their eggs in a completely undisturbed environment. The larvae then got shipped to 28 countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, and the Middle East. Unlike most tropical species that only stick to hot, humid regions, these mosquitoes are able to handle cooler, dryer environments as well. We're frightened, and we haven't even gotten to the bad news yet.

The really bad news? Name a disease and these guys probably carry it. West Nile, yellow fever, and even heartworm in dogs and cats are all carried by the Asian tiger mosquito. The only good news is that, obviously, it can't carry things that don't use a mosquito as a vector (so no AIDS or cancer). Let us remind you that we suck at getting rid of these things, not for not trying.

It's ironic. We're so good at wiping out species that human-driven extinction is touted as being way faster than any other extinction event in Earth's history, and yet we fail at eradicating specific species, even if we put our minds to it. It's like the tiger mosquito, Asian carp, Burmese python, and bunnies are all laughing at us. If there is a God, it sure as hell has a weird sense of humor.

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