Rumors about mosquito-borne diseases are floating around almost as much as the floodwaters in New Orleans, according entomologists with the LSU AgCenter, who say precaution rather than panic should prevail.
"Female mosquitoes need a blood meal in order to lay eggs. Therefore, they bite living only animals," said Dr. Mary Grodner of the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Entomology.
That means the mosquitoes aren’t actually picking up diseases directly from the floodwaters in the city and that they aren’t biting corpses, according to Grodner and Dr. Tim Schowalter, head of the LSU AgCenter’s Department of Entomology.
In fact, some state experts have said that while mosquito populations may increase in the short term because of flooding, the spread of disease may not increase substantially because of the reduced number of humans and animals in the area after the recent storm.
In addition, Grodner pointed out that oil leaking from submerged automobiles and other sources, such as underground storage tanks, could leave the water covered with a film of oil that would prevent mosquito larvae from breathing and surviving – because the oily film would stop up their breathing tubes.
"Films created by environmentally friendly oils often are used as one way of controlling mosquitoes," Grodner explained.
Schowalter also emphasized that officials are doing all they can to begin efforts to control mosquitoes that spread diseases and added that there are limits on threats from mosquitoes.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture