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Athens Breeding "Super Mosquitoes" 458

Posted by Hemos
from the all-the-better-to-suck-your-blood-with dept.
Chemisor writes "Air pollution and cramped housing conditions in Athens, Greece, are creating a new breed of mosquitoes which are bigger, faster, and can smell humans from farther away. The super insects have color vision and detect humans from 25-30 meters, which is about 50% farther than the ordinary mosquitoe. Beating their wing 500 times a second provides them with extra speed, and the larger bodies (by 0.3ug) presumably allow larger bloodsucking capacity." And in a similar vein (har har) New Scientist had a piece about what mosquitoes like or hate about people.
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Athens Breeding "Super Mosquitoes"

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:16AM (#15660184) Journal
    Growing up, I was ravaged by mosquitoes daily in the summers. There were years when they were particularly bad and they would literally swarm you. They were huge too. If you think it's cold in Minnesota and we don't have mosquitoes, you're wrong. They just had to be that much bigger and drink that much more blood to survive. You would be out playing baseball and three of them would hold you down while another worked his proboscis through your breastplate directly into your heart. Often times there wouldn't be much left of me but skin and bones when I got home. And that was if you were lucky. If there were six or more, oftentimes they'd just grab your shoulders and carry you back to their nest and you'd never be seen again.

    If you have someone that loves "all of God's creatures" then you should throw them in pond filled with mosquitoes and see how long it takes them to become a killing machine. Not very long I'd wager. In fact, mosquitoes are pretty good proof that there is no god. Why would a being of infinite good unleash such a horrible plague upon man?

    It seemed that the people who produced the most sweat and breathed the hardest were the most attractive. These features seem to come hand in hand with being overweight but I never really bought the idea that overweight people's blood tasted better. If that were true, all the mosquitoes would have moved to Wisconsin.

    Instead, you'd have mosquitoes buzzing around your mouth & ears. Why? Because I guess they are attracted to carbon dioxide big time. You accumulate natural carbon dioxide in the wells of your ears and it pours out of your mouth. They also somehow detect lactic acid which you'll find about large animals.

    For those of you who don't know, mosquitoes breed in water (when the eggs hatch, they look like this [howstuffworks.com]). Not moving water, but standing water. One of the tasks I used to have was laying silage down, putting a tarp over it and weighting the tarp down with old tires. Invariably, rainfall would fill the insides of the tires with just enough water to make them each a breeding well for mosquitoes. It's not a fun job but you have to make sure that all that old scummy water is emptied out otherwise you'd find yourself engulfed with mosquitoes at the end of the summer.

    I've never underestimated mosquitoes, I think they need to be very good at detecting carbon dioxide, scents, heat & water vapor in order to successfully find food for their eggs and lay them. This is quite a task considering what they've got and I think that it's amazing they manage to reproduce at all. I dream of the day when mosquitoes are endangered organisms.

    *mental note* Do not hold Olympic summer games in Athens, Greece.
    • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:26AM (#15660260) Homepage
      There were years when they were particularly bad and they would literally swarm you. They were huge too.

      Yeah, it's funny to read this account but it's all too true. I was sitting out on a friend's deck last night and the little fuckers not only got me but got me through my sneakers and through my sock. I now have one of the largest welts *EVER* on my foot in the most uncomfortable spot to itch and irritate :(

      If only mosquitos came with something positive like the Cane Toads... Mmm, licking toads! Unfortunately they only come with West Nile and various other nasty diseases. I don't exactly think that the "high" from West Nile would be as enjoyable ;) Nor watching them smash into your windshield at 80mph on I-35 N is as enjoyable as listening to the toads *pop* in the road when you run over them.

      Bleh :(
      • by MECC (8478) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:47PM (#15660857)
        The worst mosquitoes I ever saw were in Minnesota at a military toxic superfund clean up site (not yet cleaned up). They told us not to dig more than an inch into the ground. We were setting up microwave shots for military cellphone towers. I covered myself in DEET. I was ruthlessly swarmed, and they were biting me on my eyelids (up to my eyelashes, and not just the occasional one either, but swarming my eyelids - I couldn't stand to put DEET in my eyes, so they swarmed them), lips, and inside my ears - the only places not soaked in DEET. No kidding- it was unbelievable.
        • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:37PM (#15661165) Homepage
          DEET doesn't stop them now. They will swarm you for about 5 minutes and then ignore the DEET and bite anyway. They are absolutely insane.

          The worst is when they swarm and hover outside of all building openings because they can detect the CO2 inside and wait for humans to exit. It's nasty.

          I am a huge outdoorsman and I pretty much refuse to do anything in the woods from May through September. The ticks (deer, as I've had lymes already) and the mosquitos are just unbearable. Now we have to deal with even *more* invasive poisionous plant species like Wild Parsnip [state.mn.us].

          Minnesota sucks ;)
    • by EEJD (901217) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:34AM (#15660327)
      The summer games were held there in 2004. Having to catch the sprinters is probably why these mosquitos had to get faster...
    • I spent a couple summers in Minnesota and came to a conclusion... the state motto is incomplete. it should read:

      "Land of Ten Thousand Lakes...and a Hundred Billion Mosquitos."
    • This is true in Alaska, as well. Never been to Minnesota, but Alaskan mosquitos are easily twice the size of ones I've seen in other places (in Illinois now, but I've live on both coasts and they have puny bugs too).

      The "state bird" joke is quite common up there, too.

      When biking in the mountains back behind Anchorage, a buddy and I would fight over who had to "ride point" because the bugs could get so thick, we'd quite literally inhale mosquitos, there's so many of them desperate for some blood. Logic was t
    • by Canthros (5769)
      Yead, no kidding.

      I took a canoe trip up to the BSA high adventure base on the northern tier several years back as part of a group from the local BSA council. Neat trip on the whole, but I got bit by a mosquito *through* my sleeping bag the first night. Holy hell.
      • by scovetta (632629) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:59AM (#15660537) Homepage
        That's nothing dude! One time, I was driving through Minnesota in my car and a mosquito flew into my winshield, making a small crack in it. As I was distracted from that, it's friend bit me THROUGH THE CAR DOOR! I couldn't believe it, but there I had it, a welt on my arm and a mosquito embedded in my car door.

        I had a friend once who stepped on a mosquito once... the thing just laughed, threw my friend to the ground and bit him until he was on the verge of death. It left a note telling him to leave town or he'd get it again.

        Scary shit.
    • I was raised in Michigan, and we had the same problem. With 11,000 lakes not including the Great Lakes it makes a haven for them. I think the residents of any State with lakes in the thousands, like Minnesota and Michigan feel your pain. I now live in Virginia, unfortunately I'm close to the "Great Dismal Swamp". Is it wrong to want the extermination of one little species? I promise I will do all it takes to save the spotted owl or some other species. My daughter's legs look like she has the chicken pox.
    • Michigan State Bird (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:53AM (#15660491) Homepage Journal

      It's not the size, is the quantity. We had big, even HUGE mosquitoes in Michigan, but it was the tenacious little bitsy ones that appeared in great quantities and stung the most. Smaller mosquitoes also are able to get through smaller holes and gaps and were typically the ones found indoors.

      It's been said "Intimidation is being in a dark room with a mosquito." As tired as you may be, lying in bed, there's something about that faint whine that can make the most tired very alert.

      "Air pollution and cramped housing conditions in Athens, Greece, are creating a new breed of mosquitoes which are bigger, faster, and can smell humans from farther away. The super insects have color vision and detect humans from 25-30 meters, which is about 50% farther than the ordinary mosquitoe. Beating their wing 500 times a second provides them with extra speed, and the larger bodies (by 0.3ug) presumably allow larger bloodsucking capacity.

      I like Dave Barry's line about armor piercing stealth mosquitoes and think this is what the Greeks are up to. Screw the North Koreans, it's the greeks we need to keep an eye on.

      One last thing: Ponds are filled with mosquitoes. Larvae perhaps, but not the adults. Mosquitoes prefer long grass or shade, which is why it's often a good idea to just write off the golfball hit into the brush or edge or woods. Worst around ponds are deer flies, which I used to refer to as Flying Bastards

    • Down here in Texas we like to joke with furriners (non-Texans) by showing them crane flies [wikipedia.org] and saying that those are Texas mosquitoes.
    • The attraction to carbon dioxide is the principle behind the Mosquito Magnet [mosquitomagnet.com], which uses propane to (via a catalytic process) produce CO2 and heat, which attracts the Mosquitos. It then sucks them into a net where they dry out and die. Rather a fascinating design. (The more expensive units use the heat generated to drive the fan from a thermopile; although I found that model less reliable than the units that used a DC adapter to power the fans.)

      I have no affiliate with the company, other than being a sem
    • If you have someone that loves "all of God's creatures" then you should throw them in pond filled with mosquitoes and see how long it takes them to become a killing machine. Not very long I'd wager. In fact, mosquitoes are pretty good proof that there is no god. Why would a being of infinite good unleash such a horrible plague upon man?

      Speaking as someone who upholds strict religious and moral convictions of respect for all life, to the point where I'm known for catching flies or spiders in a cup and chucki

    • Mosquito repellant (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fossa (212602)

      I've heard that garlic is a natural mosquito repellant (seems to repel many bugs such as ants and cockroaches). I've read that spraying one's self with a garlic tea works, or even eating a clove of garlic (not sure how long before mosquito exposure). Does this have any affect on super mosquitos of the northern midwest? And how bad does a garlic spray smell? Mosquito repellants [eartheasy.com]

    • Ball game called... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shotfeel (235240)
      This was many years ago, and not in Minnesota, but the worst mosquito problem I ever encountered was playing a high school baseball game, played near a wooded, marshy area, after dark, under the lights. The game was called off after the 3rd inning because of mosquitos -you couldn't throw a ball or swing a bat without hitting some. Standing still at the plate waiting for the pitch was torture. Fortunately, the pitcher didn't want to stand too still too long either. The umpire apologized to the coaches for no
  • Hemos, eh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by dreddnott (555950) <dreddnott@yahoo.com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:18AM (#15660198) Homepage
    Your name is strikingly apropos to the subject, my friend.
  • Color vision (Score:5, Informative)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:18AM (#15660199) Homepage Journal
    Regular mosquito species are dichromats. In other words, all mosquitos, like many insects that I know of have color vision. Some insects like bees are actually trichromats (like humans), but have their photopigments tuned higher up in the spectrum. So, super mosquitos having color vision is no different than regular mosquitos, unless they have developed a third chromophore which the article does not state.

    • Re:Color vision (Score:3, Informative)

      by Oligonicella (659917)
      Don't short-change insects, some have six or so.

      http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/208/4/ 6 87 [biologists.org]

      "For instance, papilionid butterflies have six opsins, one UV, one blue and four LW..."

      FYI SW, MW and LW are "short wavelength (SW, 300-400 nm), middle wavelength (MW, 400-500 nm) and long wavelength (LW, 500-600 nm)" - same source.

      For info, bees are UV,green,blue.
    • Re:Color vision (Score:3, Insightful)

      by larkost (79011)
      Just a small note: most mammals are bichromats (except a large swath of primates, including us... and we are just barely trichromats). But most other land vertebrates are quadchromats. There is a nice article [sciam.com] on this in the latest Scientific American. Note that this is in the print edition, and so the full article is not available free online.
  • Makes no sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:18AM (#15660200) Journal
    If this is happening due to many humans being in even smaller spaces, why the hell does the insect need color vision, and the ability to smell humans from even FARTHER away? I don't see how that need could have evolved to be beneficial... the speed thing I can see... I'm truly confused as to why such a feature would evolve with seemingly no benefit.
    • Duh, because in cramped spaces full of humans, it only makes sense that insects with better vision and smell will evolve. Nothing like bumping into food every few meters to make good eyesight an evolutionary necessity.
    • Re:Makes no sense (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:24AM (#15660249) Homepage Journal
      I'm truly confused as to why such a feature would evolve with seemingly no benefit.

      Color vision is a distinct evolutionary advantage in a number of settings. As I said before however, regular mosquitos have some form of color vision with two photopigments. Bees have three photopigments that are tuned up into the UV portion of the spectrum so they can better identify pollinating flowers. For mosquitos, perhaps a little color vision would help them to better identify easy meals like pink apes rather than tougher meals like animals with lots of hair....

    • ...why the hell does the insect need color vision?...

      May be they are racist? ;)

    • by Lave (958216) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:37AM (#15660364)
      If this is happening due to many humans being in even smaller spaces, why the hell does the insect need color vision, and the ability to smell humans from even FARTHER away? I don't see how that need could have evolved to be beneficial... the speed thing I can see... I'm truly confused as to why such a feature would evolve with seemingly no benefit.

      Well one big factor with evolution is having the energy to run your body. Humans spends a vast percentage of the energy we generate on keeping are brain's ticking over - which we can only maintain because the brain allows to us generate enough food to make that reasonable. Where most animals have as stupid a brain as they can get away with - as it's cheaper to run.

      These insects already had color vision, the ability to smell humans from a distance, and bodies - but the greater population of humans created a situation where they can afford to grow bigger, afford to run more powerful noses and afford better vision- as there is enough food to support the greater level of energy these "improved" bodies require to be sustained.

      Likewise - if food becomes scarce for these animals evolution will lead to them becoming more fuel efficient again.

      This is analogous to the situation facing Americans and their SUVs.

      • Extra bit (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lave (958216)
        A crucial point I forgot to mention in the above is that this allows them to better compete with the rest of their species - the larger, faster, "better" mossies will be able to bread more often than the "ordinary" mossies - and the increased amount of food supports them in that aim.

        The better vision allows you to see more chicks to impregnate.

        Just because you can't immediately see why evolution would lead to something - doesn't mean that it won't happen - it just means your not looking at the situation

    • You just proved why they must evolve. If most humans are collected together then so are the bugs, so the best bug ets to thrive while the weaker ones slowly die out. Being bigger, faster and stroger means you can get more blood quicker and then back off while the others get killed.
  • ...live in the city. The air quality is so bad here I'd be amazed if any mosquitoe could survive long term.
  • by Jhon (241832) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:20AM (#15660213) Homepage Journal
    Some unfortunate people are irresistible to mosquitoes, while the scent of some lucky individuals drives the blood-suckers away.
    ...
    A key chemical identified by Logan as a repellent is also "a natural food additive, so has proven safety", he says. "And because it can be made by plants, it may one day be possible to mass produce it cheaply."
    Great. So lets breed mosquitoes which aren't repelled by us lucky few. Wonderful.
    • Great. So lets breed mosquitoes which aren't repelled by us lucky few. Wonderful.

      That's evolutionary one-upmanship. It's how the game is played. Sorry that your relative advantage is going the way of the Dodo :)

      Welcome to the puss-y inflamed itching-to-all-hell scabbed-over mosquito-bite reality that many of the rest of us have to endure.

      Time to join the normals, I guess... Natural Mosquito Repelling is a pretty lame Super-power, anyway.

  • Random evolutionary question, are there any drawbacks from an evolutionary point of view to the "new design"? If not, that why didn't the variation predominate earlier? Just because the evolutionary drift didn't lean that way?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Lack of food?

      Enhanced hunting capabilities often REQUIRES more energy to keep the organism alive, so if Athens wasn't such a fertile feeding ground they wouldn't have had the resources to get bigger/better.

      But don't worry, pretty soon people will be complaining about the glut of birds feeding on the skeeters followed by the glut of cats eating the birds, followed by....
      • by bar-agent (698856)
        But don't worry, pretty soon people will be complaining about the glut of birds feeding on the skeeters followed by the glut of cats eating the birds, followed by....

        And then the gorillas freeze to death?
  • by general scruff (938598) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:21AM (#15660228) Journal
    This speaks nothing to the possiblity that Athenians are getting smaller, slower, and smellier.
  • Patents... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:22AM (#15660240) Homepage Journal
    The most potent repellent chemical were then isolated by strapping miniature electrodes to the antennae of female mosquitoes and checking their responses to specific compounds. Logan will not divulge the names of the chemicals until they are patented.

    How in the world can a chemical that every human produces be patented? Isn't that prior art? Ridiculous. I could understand if it were some new compound they synthesized, but this is a nothing more than greed.

    Dan East
    • How in the world can a chemical that every human produces be patented? Isn't that prior art?

      Same way that Aspirin, Penicilin, Insulin and many other chemicals have been patented.
    • Re:Patents... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oni (41625) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:46AM (#15660430) Homepage
      He did the work to figure it out, he deserves the exclusive right FOR A LIMITED TIME to manufacture it. After that, it goes into the public domain.

      Without that protection, his recipe would be a closely guarded secret and there is the possibility that his death, or a fire in the factory, or a hard drive crash, would result in the formula being lost. Then we all lose. That's the way things used to work, and that's why we can't make violins as good as Stradivarius, or swords out of damascus steel (or buildings out of it for that matter).

      Patents do benefit mankind. It's not this guy's fault that politicians have perverted the system.
      • Re:Patents... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        No, according to patent law, he doesn't deserve anything. Patent law does not recognize a discovery as an invention. They can patent a particular means of synthesizing this chemical or extracting it from some other animal or plant, but they cannot and should not be able to patent the discovery itself. Patenting the chemical would be like discovering that you can make some particular type of object out of wood and then patenting trees.

        If they get a patent on this discovery, it will be quite possibly the

      • Re:Patents... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:12PM (#15660609) Homepage
        or swords out of damascus steel (or buildings out of it for that matter).

        Actually, I believe that particular puzzle has been solved [ntsource.com].
      • Re:Patents... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mark-t (151149)
        How do you propose to enforce his exclusive right to manufacture it when every living human being on the planet is manufacturing it to greater or lesser degrees with their own natural biological processes already?
    • Re:Patents... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by paulpach (798828)
      If noone is able to make a profit out of isolating this chemical, then wtf would they invest in it? The alternatives are simple: * Either you let people patent and make a profit out of a chemical that the human (or non human) body produces, or * Noone bothers isolating the chemical and no human ever benefits from such research. Note that many chemicals are produced by bacterias and mushroms and ppl have just isolated them, patented them and sold them in pills. Your prior art argument would also apply to
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm not sure how big they are exactly, but you should bring your baseball bat.
  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:23AM (#15660244)
    Generally when somebody says their all-natural product 'compares favorably' to some chemical alternative, them mean that it works 'almost as well'. If it worked better, they'd be saying that it works better than DEET.

    In my experience, DEET does absolutely nothing to repel biting insects from me. If this new stuff 'compares favorably' to DEET, I guess I have nothing to look forward to here.

    It doesn't really have to work though... He just needs to put 'Organic' on the bottle, and people will buy it even if they have no clue what the hell is in there. They'll swear it works too.
    • e just needs to put 'Organic' on the bottle, and people will buy it even if they have no clue what the hell is in there. They'll swear it works too.

      Probably add some fruity fragnace to it. Like citronella, the favoured repellent of the New Agers. CITRONELLA DOES NOT WORK. As for this guy, notice he was doing tests to see which of two victims the mosquitoes preferred. What would happen if both had these mystery chemical in the same amount? Would they both be safe? I doubt it. He would have mentioned that i

  • ...so I have to.

    I, for one, welcome our new giant color-seeing long-distance mosquito overlords.
  • Size? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KingEomer (795285)
    How much larger is a 3 microgram mosquito? I think a percentage would be slightly more informative, or at least the weight of a "normal" mosquito.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong (in which case, sorry), but I though mozzies could detect the increased CO2 concentration from suckable creatures in the air from something in the region of a mile away? At least, females can.
    Okay, I could be wrong, but David Attenborough is like the voice of God to me, so I'll need some convincing.
  • by r00t (33219) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:42AM (#15660404) Journal
    That's got to be doing something to the humans as well. Might we be breeding people who need air pollution to live? If so, then cleaning up the environment could be like genocide!
  • The super insects have color vision and detect humans from 25-30 meters, which is about 50% farther than the ordinary mosquitoe. Beating their wing 500 times a second provides them with extra speed, and the larger bodies (by 0.3ug) presumably allow larger bloodsucking capacity.

    Unfortunately the new Super Mosquito is "snub-nosed" and will not make a puncture wound. Rather, the Super Mosquito will land on a human and relentlessly force its entire head into the target over a period of 6-7 hours.

  • by oni (41625) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:50AM (#15660464) Homepage
    From TFA: It's very exciting," Logan told New Scientist, "because these are totally natural chemicals with an effectiveness that compares favourably to harsher chemicals such as DEET

    I seriously doubt that this will work as well as a repellant. All he did was figure out what flavor of human mosquitos like. Sure, if there are lots of humans around, they will go after the one they like, but in a pinch, they are still comming after you. It's like saying, we did research and found that oni prefers chocolate ice cream, so we are only selling vanilla - that wll keep him away.

    No, actually it wont. If you're the only ice cream shop in town, I'll make do with vanilla. Similarly, if you're out walking alone in the woods, the mosquitoes are going to bite you even if you don't taste just the way they like.

    This discovery is still good for when you are in a group of people - unless everyone in the group makes use of it, then you're back where you started.
  • Welcome our new greek killing, buzzing overlords!
  • From the New Scientist article:

    The most potent repellent chemical were then isolated by strapping miniature electrodes to the antennae of female mosquitoes and checking their responses to specific compounds. Logan will not divulge the names of the chemicals until they are patented. ...
    "It's very exciting," Logan told New Scientist, "because these are totally natural chemicals"

    So, what is the status of the situation which allows companies to patent naturally occurring phenomena, such as DNA and now a scent w
    • So, what is the status of the situation which allows companies to patent naturally occurring phenomena, such as DNA and now a scent which comes from a chemical naturally produced by the human body?

      It's not a patent on the naturally-occurring compound, per se. Rather, patents on methods of producing said compound, or patents for using said compound for a specific use.

      After all, tons of pharmaceuticals occur naturally in nature (or at least their parent class of compounds do). And we wouldn't want unscrupu

  • by RyoShin (610051) <.tukaro. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @11:58AM (#15660530) Homepage Journal
    And in a similar vein (har har) New Scientist had a piece about what mosquitoes like or hate about people.

    Hell, I can tell you that without reading the article.

    Mosquitoes like:
    -that humans have blood

    Mosquitoes hate:
    -that humans squash them

    There you go.
  • by shoolz (752000) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:06PM (#15660572) Homepage
    Mosquitos can bite me all day long and I never get a welt. My mother on the other hand, gets two bites and puffs up like the Michelin Man (TM).

    I am convinced that I do NOT have a natural resistance to mosquito venom, rather I believe that I have 'tuned' my body to be resistant. You see, growing up as a child I had the idea in my head (don't know how it got there), that if I just let the mosquitos bite me that eventually my body would adapt and become resistant. So while everybody else was slapping their arms and waving their hands about in the air, I would sit there and let them suck away... after I figured they had enough blood, I would pick them off by the leg and let them fly away.

    Is there any merit to this? I'm not sure, but I can tell you that I USED to swell up after begin bitten, but NOW I'm all but immune.
    • Mosquitos do not have venom. When a mosquito bites, you are exposed to proteins in the saliva of the insect -- some of which have a mild anti-coagulant effect. The itching and raising of a small bump is the result of an immune response to the foreign protein. As such, you'd expect that on the first exposure (your very first bite), there'd be minimal response, then subsequent bites would produce the itchy bumps most people associate with a bite. As with allergy shots, frequent exposure to the same proteins w
    • Mosquitos inject their saliva into you when they first bite. The spit contains an anticoagulant that keeps the blood flowing into their greedy little mouths. When the mosquito is killed before it can suck a lot of blood out, the saliva gets left behind and initiates an inflammatory response. However, if you let the mosquito complete the feeding, it will suck a lot of the saliva out. Mosquitos don't tap into veins and arteries (hopefully, the super ones don't) so that the bloodflow is not strong enough to ju
  • We have these in ohio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crane_fly [wikipedia.org] and they look just like enormous mosquitos, so much so that you can't help freaking out if one gets near you!
  • Make it war! Give the super mosquitoes no quarter; leave no water standing (still!) See a mosquitoe swarm? Spray it down; it's your civic duty! Never leave home without that bug spray. Back the attack by crushing or shredding cups or other shaped garbage that may hold water if it rains. Let no trash can go without cover (so water can't collect.) Coat the city in repelent by plane (not ddt!) Just call it "Gas Mask Day" and give people the day off. If you have large bodies of water (as in sewers, ponds, ect.)
  • Super mosquitos... that's gotta suck.

    I can imagine they'd be a pain in the ass. Or thigh. Or hand. Or practically anywhere, for that matter.

    *rimshot*

  • Athenian Scientists get so focused on creating "Super Mosquitoes", that they never stop and ask themselves "should we do this". We can only hope Spartan Scientists don't escalate the situation by bio-engineering "MegaFrogs".
  • by brufar (926802) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @12:45PM (#15660843)
    Looks like Athens should be working on increasing their bat population. a single little brown bat such as we have here in the US can catch about 1200 small insects (such as mosquito's) in a single hour. I have built several bat houses to place around my yard to try and increase their population in my local vicinity. and decrease the biting insect population . It will make the back yard a much more enjoyable place and I won't have to spend money on chemicals, propane or electricity to make it happen.

    I am convinced that although the electric bug zappers take out a lot of insects, and can be enjoyable to watch, they also seem to attract all the bugs from your neighbors yards into yours..

    For more info on Bat conservation and plans to build your own bat house check out Bat Conservation International [batcon.org]

    From the BatCon FAQ
    Most bats are valuable allies, well worth protecting. Worldwide, they are primary predators of vast numbers of insect pests that cost farmers and foresters billions of dollars annually and spread human disease. In the United States, little brown bats often eat mosquitos and can catch up to 1,200 tiny insects in an hour. An average-sized colony of big brown bats can eat enough cucumber beetles to protect farmers from tens of millions of the beetle's rootworm larva each summer. Large colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats eat hundreds of tons of moth pests weekly. Bats play key roles in keeping a wide variety of insect populations in balance. Yet, they rank as North America's most rapidly declining and endangered land mammals. The largest known cause of decline is exaggerated human fear and persecution.
  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium&yahoo,com> on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:05PM (#15660981)
    This is evolution on equal terms. Unfortunately, the mosquito has used the traits it has developed. We have developed the ability to change their genome. For instance, cross the mosquito with the firefly. Release a few breaders into the world and we could see them at 30 meters. Got a blinking bug on your ass? BAM! Dead. We must be holding back due to some stupid british style fair play type logic.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @01:08PM (#15660991) Journal
    ...range is a weird adaptation to living in an overpopulated city where your next meal is at close range, don't you think?
  • by martinflack (107386) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @03:02PM (#15661875)
    Mosquito 2.0 - Ah, screw it, I'm not upgrading until the "point one" release. You know the round numbers are always unstable.
  • On a related note... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cervantes (612861) on Wednesday July 05, 2006 @04:57PM (#15662900) Journal
    On a related funny story, in Western Canada, our mosquitoes are frequently larger than a quarter. Sometimes a loonie. Infrequently, a toonie. Most people will swear they saw at least one the size of a $5 bill. No-one has seen the fabled $10 bill version yet.
    In rural counties, when the Greyhound or other transport truck drives through, they have to stop at regular intervals to clean the front of the vehicle off. The bugs are so thick, especially on poorly lit rural roads, that their dead carcasses tend to completely block the radiator grill (thanks to the fine-mesh anti-snow grill we all use up here).
    The last time I took a greyhound through saskatchewan, we stopped after a few hours, the driver got out a stick, and knocked off a solid mat of dead insects, probably 1.5" thick, that covered the fronts of both side mirrors. It was heavy enough it made a "thump" when it hit the ground. The windshield wipers were hidden. The front grill was mostly covered, again almost 1" thick. He said that on differently designed busses with their altered aerodynamics, sometimes the bugs end up hitting the headlights, and frequent stops are required or you're soon driving in the dark.
    They can be so vicious, animals locked in a small pen are driven mad. City children who go out to the country for a day have been bitten so bad they can't flex their arm or leg (presumably, rural kids are used to it, or have developed some armour-like skin that the farmers are keeping secret until the revolution). Falling asleep without repellant on is just not done, as you'd wake up with bites over your entire body, even in the middle of the city. Inadvertantly wandering into a marshy area with a mosquito breeding area and stirring them up can seem to block out the sun. Even at my old house, in a small park in the middle of the big city, if i didn't keep the grass trimmed, I couldn't walk from car to house without getting bitten a dozen times.
    It's widely recognized as the severest hazing ritual, to take the young man, clothe him completely, tape him to a tree in a woody area, and then unzip and expose his manhood.
    Not for the embarasement factor, or the fun, but because after a few hours his manhood will be unrecognizable and he will be crazy with the urge to scratch.
    Many people have been bitten so severely, in normal, everyday circumstances, that they scratch themselves until they bleed.

    But, yeah, these Greek ones can see colour. Oooohhh, scary.

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