Today is World Mosquito Day, created on 20 August 1897, marking a world changing discovery made by Sir Ronald Ross, a British doctor working in India who first made the link that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans. On making this breakthrough on this date, Ross declared that it should be known as World Mosquito Day henceforth. Ross went on to become the first British person to be awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1902.
Ross’s discovery laid the foundations for scientists to better understand the deadly role of mosquitoes which currently infect 250 million people with malaria every year, causing 850,000 deaths. World Mosquito Day is still a little known celebration, but given the global importance of eradication of malaria it should be better known.
Females of most mosquito species are ectoparasites, whose tube-like mouthparts. or proboscis, pierce the hosts’ skin to consume blood. Thousands of species feed on the blood of various kinds of hosts, mainly vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even some kinds of fish. Some mosquitoes also attack invertebrates, mainly arthropods. Though the loss of blood is seldom of any importance to the victim, the saliva of the mosquito often causes an irritating rash that is a serious nuisance. Much more serious though, are the roles of many species of mosquitoes as vectors of diseases. In passing from host to host, some transmit extremely harmful infections such as malaria, yellow fever, west nile virus, dengue fever, filariasis, and other arboviruses, making it the deadliest animal in the world.
Various species of mosquitoes are estimated to transmit various types of disease to more than 700 million people annually in Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico, Russia, and much of Asia, with millions of resultant deaths. At least two million people annually die of these diseases, and the morbidity rates are many times higher still. Effective control is a major health concern. There are various methods:
Fortunately mosquitoes don’t like me apparently because I don’t have any of the usual attractors. The feeding preferences of mosquitoes include those with type O blood, heavy breathers, those with a lot of skin bacteria, people with a lot of body heat, and pregnant women. Individuals’ attractiveness to mosquitoes also has a heritable, genetically-controlled component. If you do suffer, repellants and mosquito nets work.
Since many mosquitoes breed in standing water, source reduction can be as simple as emptying water from containers around the home. This is something that homeowners can accomplish. For example, homeowners can eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by removing unused plastic pools, old tires, or buckets; by clearing clogged gutters and repairing leaks around faucets; by regularly (at least every 4 days) changing water in bird baths; and by filling or draining puddles, swampy areas, and tree stumps. Eliminating such mosquito breeding areas can be an extremely effective and permanent way to reduce mosquito populations without resorting to insecticides. However, this may not be possible in parts of the developing world where water cannot be readily replaced due to irregular water supply.
Biological control or “biocontrol” is the use of natural enemies to manage mosquito populations. There are several types of biological control including the direct introduction of parasites, pathogens and predators to target mosquitoes. Effective biocontrol agents include predatory fish that feed on mosquito larvae such as mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) and some cyprinids (carps and minnows) and killifish. Tilapia also consume mosquito larvae. Direct introduction of tilapia and mosquitofish into ecosystems around the world have had disastrous consequences. However, utilizing a controlled system via aquaponics provides the mosquito control without the adverse effects to the ecosystem.
Other predators include dragonfly naiads, which consume mosquito larvae in the breeding waters, adult dragonflies, which eat adult mosquitoes and some species of lizard and gecko.
Dead spores of the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, especially Bt israelensis (BTI) interfere with larval digestive systems. It can be dispersed by hand or dropped by helicopter in large areas. BTI loses effectiveness after the larvae turn into pupae, because they stop eating. Two species of fungi can kill adult mosquitoes: Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana.Oil drip
An oil drip can or oil drip barrel was a common and nontoxic antimosquito measure. The thin layer of oil on top of the water prevents mosquito breeding in two ways:[ mosquito larvae in the water cannot penetrate the oil film with their breathing tube, and so drown and die; also adult mosquitoes do not lay eggs on the oiled water.
Control of adult mosquitoes is the most familiar aspect of mosquito control to most of the public. It is accomplished by ground-based applications or via aerial application of residual chemical insecticides. Generally modern mosquito-control programs in developed countries use low-volume applications of insecticides, although some programs may still use thermal fogging.
DDT was formerly used throughout the world for large area mosquito control, but it is now banned in most developed countries. DDT remains in common use in many developing countries (14 countries were reported to be using it in 2009), which claim that the public-health cost of switching to other control methods would exceed the harm caused by using DDT. It is sometimes approved for use only in specific, limited circumstances where it is most effective, such as application to walls.
The role of DDT in combating mosquitoes has been the subject of considerable controversy. Although DDT has been proven to affect biodiversity and cause eggshell thinning in birds such as the bald eagle, some say that DDT is the most effective weapon in combating mosquitoes, and hence malaria. While some of this disagreement is based on differences in the extent to which disease control is valued as opposed to the value of biodiversity, there is also genuine disagreement amongst experts about the costs and benefits of using DDT.
Notwithstanding, DDT-resistant mosquitoes have started to increase in numbers, especially in tropics due to mutations, reducing the effectiveness of this chemical; these mutations can rapidly spread over vast areas if pesticides are applied indiscriminately. In areas where DDT resistance is encountered, malathion, propoxur or lindane are used.
There’s no question that blood should be the culinary ingredient of the day. In looking back I see that I have made reference to blood in recipes a few times; now it’s time for the full monty. Many cultures consume blood as food, often in combination with meat. The blood may be in the form of blood sausage (the most common), as a thickener for sauces, a cured salted form for times of food scarcity, or in a blood soup. Culinary blood comes from domesticated animals, obtained at a place and time where the blood can run into a container and be swiftly consumed or processed. In many cultures the animal is slaughtered, in others it is bled and remains alive. In some cultures, blood is a taboo food.
Blood sausage, or black pudding, is any sausage made by cooking animal blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled. Pig or cattle blood is most often used. Typical fillers include meat, fat, suet, bread, rice, barley and oatmeal. Varieties include drisheen, moronga, black pudding, blutwurst, blood tongue, kishka (kaszanka), biroldo, morcilla, mustamakkara, verivorst, and many types of boudin. Blood sausage is found worldwide. Black pudding is a great favorite in the U.K. as part of the full English breakfast. In Argentina and China it is commonly found grilled.
Blood pancakes are found in Galicia (filloas), Scandinavia, and the Baltic; for example, Swedish blodplättar, Finnish veriohukainen, and Estonian veripannkoogid. There’s a video here on Swedish blood pancakes in English (with a fair amount of swearing!).
You’ll see that blood pancakes are like regular pancakes – a mix of egg flour and mix – only some of the fluid is blood which darkens and thickens the batter when cooked. Could be good with blood sausage.
Blood soups and stews, which use blood as part of the broth, include czernina, dinuguan, haejangguk, mykyrokka, pig’s organ soup, tiet canh and svartsoppa. Spartan warriors going into battle reputedly ate blood soup for strength and courage. Such soups are most often found in eastern Europe and SE Asia.
Blood is also used as a thickener in sauces, such as in traditional coq au vin or pressed duck, and puddings, such as tiết canh. It can provide flavor or color for meat, as in cabidela.
Blood can also be used as a solid ingredient, either by allowing it to congeal before use, or by cooking it to accelerate the process. In Hungary when a pig is slaughtered in the morning, the blood is fried with onions and served for breakfast. In China, “blood tofu” is most often made with pig’s or duck’s blood, although chicken’s or cow’s blood may also be used. The blood is allowed to congeal and simply cut into rectangular pieces and cooked. This dish is also known in Java as saren, made with chicken’s or pig’s blood. Blood tofu is found in curry mee as well as the Sichuan dish, maoxuewang. In Tibet, congealed yak’s blood is a traditional food.
In some cases, blood is used as an ingredient without any additional preparation. Raw blood is not commonly consumed by itself, but may be used as an addition to drinks or other dishes. One example is the drinking of seal blood which is traditionally believed by the Inuit to bring health benefits.
Consumption of blood as a nutrient is forbidden in Islam and Judaism, and in many cultures meat that is considered “bloody” (such as rare or raw beef) is thought unfit for consumption. In the Greek Bible, blood was forbidden by Apostolic Decree (Acts 15:19-21).