Mosquitoes still spell big trouble for us

Mosquitoes still spell big trouble for us by Bob Karolevitz On June 25, 1805, Capt. Meriwether Lewis wrote in his journal: "Musquetoes are extreemly troublesome to us."

That was 200 years ago, and mosquitoes are STILL giving us fits.

There are probably more than 2,500 kinds of them identified now; but according to those that know something about it, there are only a few which can transmit the West Nile virus that Captain Lewis knew nothing about.

Today we realize that only females suck blood – so does that mean the West Nile disease is caused exclusively by Lady Mosquitoes?

If that�s the case, then all you�ve got to do to protect yourself is to avoid the distaff insects of a certain species who, incidentally, had feasted on infected birds. But that�s easier said than done.

How do you know if the mosquito which is biting you had first dined on a dead crow or blue jay?

When I was in the South Pacific in World War II, our biggest concern was malaria which was also spread by those pesky bugs. We hadn't even heard of that strange African malady first found in Uganda in 1937. Atabrine tablets – which turned some guys yellow – were pharmaceutical safeguards, and had nothing to do with the mosquitoes which caused it all.

Most of us had heard of how Dr. William Crawford Gorgas saved the Panama Canal from disaster by eliminating the voracious insects which infected workers with yellow fever and malaria. He did it, I understand, by getting rid of the brackish water which bred mosquitoes. He didn�t know about West Nile either.

Maybe I made it up, but it seems to me that Skeezix Wallet of the cartoon strip "Gasoline Alley" conducted a campaign against mosquitoes in the Dirty Thirties. Using the medium of the funny papers, he told us to empty all tin cans, glass jars, old tires, and other containers that held water in which larvae lived.

He was on the right track because that's what we�re instructed to do now. I remember how we found mosquito wrigglers in everything, and we couldn't wait to destroy their habitat.

At least I think that's how it was. By the way, does any oldtimer recall that "Gasoline Alley" strip – or is it a figment of my imagination? (Phyllis keeps saying I make things up.)

Anyhow, she doesn�t believe in playing Mosquito Roulette, and neither do I. Consequently we follow all the anti-mosquito rules which the county agents tell us to. Needless to say, culex tarsalis, aedes vexans and other West Nile transmitters are to be avoided – if we can identify them.

But whether you spell it Musqueto – like Meriwether Lewis did – or the conventional way, mosquitoes are still "extremely troublesome"to us.

� 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz

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