Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

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Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Nikki Nyx » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:16 pm

Near Key West, Fla., mosquito-control officers are trying something new. They’re releasing more mosquitoes.

In a 12-week test running through early July, 40,000 male mosquitoes are being released each week with the eventual goal of preventing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and dengue.

Instead of trying to kill the mosquitoes directly, a losing battle in Florida, a Kentucky company called MosquitoMate has infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with a strain of Wolbachia bacteria that makes the males disastrous dads. When these males mate with uninfected wild females, their offspring die before hatching.

The Florida trial is the latest in worldwide tests of two conceptually opposite approaches to using Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes as disease control officers. The better-known tack is to render mosquitoes less able to carry disease but leave them free to do what mosquitoes do. The approach now being tried in Florida would instead try to stomp down their numbers.

Read the whole article here.

Humans have made a number of attempts to interfere with the natural order, often with disastrous results. The thoughtless introduction of the mongoose to Hawaii to control the rat population comes to mind. (Apparently, no one considered that rats are nocturnal and mongooses hunt during the day.) Obviously, the science of biocontrol has advanced considerably since that time. Still, this method is effectively introducing a new and competing species into the population that will have an effect on the local ecosystem. Thoughts?
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Gord » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:52 pm

It doesn't look to me like they're introducing a new species, but infecting an existing species with an existing bacteria. It would be similar to catching a bunch of men, castrating them, and then releasing them into an orgy. :mrgreen: Or maybe I'm just biased.
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Lance Kennedy » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:38 am

It will definitely have an effect on the human ecosystem. Beneficent.

The mosquitoes that spread those diseases are ones that attack humans and little else. Reducing that population can only be beneficial.

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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:47 am

I think combining genes/vectors should be done as little as possible. Probably....some margin cheaper than sterilizing the males? And it all comes down to moisquitoes can find other moisquitoes more cheaply than can hoomans. Sounds like a job for miniature drones.
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Lance Kennedy » Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:10 am

The important thing is what works. The experimenters will soon out how well their system works. If it works well, then we will see it repeated globally.

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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:12 am

I'd push your face into it and throw you outside.........if it would work. maybe..... infecting you with some virus???

What virus is known for always being relevant?
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:16 am

Gord wrote:It doesn't look to me like they're introducing a new species, but infecting an existing species with an existing bacteria. It would be similar to catching a bunch of men, castrating them, and then releasing them into an orgy. :mrgreen: Or maybe I'm just biased.

Heh heh... It's not technically a new species, but an altered version that will interfere with the existing species ability to propagate. I mean, emotionally, I'm all for getting rid of mosquitoes; I can't stand the @#$% things. But I'm wondering how reducing the population will affect the animals for which mosquitoes are a delicious meal. And so on up the food chain.

As a side note, given that it was hotter here in New England today than it was in Death Valley, and we've been getting rain every few days regularly, I'm thinking about giving the Mosquito Squad a call. We've had a bumper crop of mosquitoes so far this summer.
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:19 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:It will definitely have an effect on the human ecosystem. Beneficent.

The mosquitoes that spread those diseases are ones that attack humans and little else. Reducing that population can only be beneficial.

Hmmm...mosquitoes don't have as many predators as I thought. For Florida, reducing the population shouldn't have too much of a negative effect, I wouldn't think.
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Lance Kennedy » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:41 am

It is a bit like the impact on ecology of wiping out smallpox. Massive benefit and probably zero harm.

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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Poodle » Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:12 am

Having spent a few hours (yes - a whole few hours!) researching the possible ecological effects of the eradication of mosquitoes, I think, on the whole, that the only good mosquito is a dead mosquito. Individual mosquitoes may feel differently, of course.

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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:24 am

Poodle wrote:I think, on the whole, that the only good mosquito is a dead mosquito. Individual mosquitoes may feel differently, of course.

I assume you mean only moisquitoes that prey on hooman...but with 1000's of species, its important, or maybe not, to keep this in mind. I mean.... think of the bats...and I'm sure lots of species feed on the larva? I would think what with CRISPER advancing on and what nought that eradication of any species we choose will be easy and cheap.......and fairly soon.

Reminds me to go google "the horse." I can only think of horses and zebras.................HAH.... just thought of mules and donkeys." Pretty small variety there if those are the only ones. The difference being the comparison in an extended metaphor that I dont want to use if it is not correct.

Google........... knowing stuff............... what a time waster.
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Poodle » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:42 pm

I'd drop mules from the discussion, bobbo.

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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Nikki Nyx » Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:31 pm

Poodle wrote:Having spent a few hours (yes - a whole few hours!) researching the possible ecological effects of the eradication of mosquitoes, I think, on the whole, that the only good mosquito is a dead mosquito. Individual mosquitoes may feel differently, of course.

I doubt even PETA cares how mosquitoes feel, although you never know with them. I wouldn't put it past them to initiate a marketing campaign with the sex symbol du jour naked and covered with mosquito bites, accompanied by some inane caption like, "I'd rather get Zika than use chemical pesticides." *smh*
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”--what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:12 pm

Poodle wrote:I'd drop mules from the discussion, bobbo.

Too self referential.... or not a species?
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Poodle » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:15 pm

Certainly not a species - a mule's father is a donkey and its mother a horse. In general (although not absolutely always) the chromosomal difference renders mules infertile.

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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Lance Kennedy » Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:00 pm

When the Polynesians crossed the Pacific carrying rats with them, they wiped out something like 1,000 species of native island birds. They are gone forever. However, all those islands are lush, with vigorous ecosystems. While all species are precious, we should not assume that the loss of one, or even a few, reprssents some kind of ecological disaster. Nature is very forgiving and readjusts quickly. The loss of a few mosquito species will not harm the world's ecology at all.

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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Major Malfunction » Wed Jun 14, 2017 3:52 am

If there's one insect I wouldn't take to another planet, it's mozzies.

They do play a strong ecological role, being food for other creatures, especially in the larval phase. But surely we can export a much less obnoxious bug to satisfy the hunger of our newly terraformed ecosystem friends.

A similar thing has been tried before by irradiating male mozzies to make them sterile, and releasing them. It works to reduce the population for a season. But the problem is, you have to keep doing it. I'm afraid there is no final solution regarding mozzies. We'll never make them extinct. We just have to learn to live with them, and take preventative measures.

They may also play an important role in gene transfer, and natural selection. Most parasites do.
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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:06 am

There are places on Earth with no mosquitoes. Antarctica for example. It is clear that the seals and penguin do not miss them,

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Re: Messing with Mother Nature: Mosquito Edition

Postby Major Malfunction » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:53 am

Maybe they got in the water to avoid the mozzies?
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