It doesn`t take a mosquito scientist to tell me what you and I already know...The mosquito population is worse that it has been in many, many years. But I talked to one anyway and according to "mosquito scientist" Dr. Dan Kline, an entomologist with the USDA, "before TS Beryl the numbers were way down compared to previous years. Beryl primed the pump and after Debbie the mosquito population exploded to a level I haven`t seen in at least a decade."
But fear not. There is a low tech way to help reduce the population by as much as 90%. It was invented by Dr. Gunter Muller of Hebrew University, in Israel, and has been used in both Israel and Africa. The project was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and reported in the June/July 2012 issue of Mother Earth News. So why not use it in your back yard?
According to Dr. Kline, there are about 70 species of mosquitoes in Florida and 32 species in the Cedar Key area. Apparently, they not only love blood, but they also love fruit nectar, juice and jasmine. And that is the premise and main ingredient of this low-tech trap:
Take some rotten fruit (preferably something juicy like peaches, oranges, etc.) and let it ferment outside for a couple days. Add 1/2 teaspoon of boric acid, 3 teaspoons of sugar, and a drop of jasmine essential oil (if you happen to have some lying around) to a cup of the fruit mess. Put the fermented (and now toxic-to-mosquitos) mixture into plastic containers with lids, and punch or drill 1/16" holes in the top of the lid. Place where they are protected from rain, but where the bugs will find them, enter, eat and die. You want small holes so the mosquitoes get in but not beneficial insects such as bees or lady bugs. Of course, keep it out the reach of children and pets. I would suggest making several smaller containers of the elixar and placing them in multiple areas around your property or neighborhood, to maximize the impact. Sit back and while you wait for the pleasant results, read on.
Dr. Kline answered a few more of my pointed questions about his work, such as:
* What do you look for in your studies of these nasty bugs?
"We study the ecology and behavior of our target species. We are interested in developing technologies to protect people and livestock from mosquito and biting nuisance and interrupt their their ability to transmit disease pathens."
* Why on EARTH were mosquitoes invented?
"I think they were part of God`s stimulus package to create jobs for entomologists and associated industries."
* What purpose do they serve in the ecological system other than to torment us?
"That`s a question that I do not have an answer for. Some are useful as pollinators."
*What would happen if they all just disappeared?
"Again, I don`t have an answer."
* Would their disappearance throw off some sort of balance in the environment?
"What we usually find is that the ecological niche would be quickly filled by some other organism."
Dr. Kline regularly monitors the mosquito population in the Cedar Key area and Dr. Muller will be joining him in about a month - after he returns from field studies in Morocco, where he is testing his "Attractant Treated Bait Traps" against phlebotomine sandflies. With any luck, if we all band together and start right now, there won`t be a mosquito in sight for them to count.