Biting female mosquito. Image credit:James Gathany/CDC , via the Gazeteer Extra.
Fear of disease is such a strong motivator. And most people hate insects,. Hence, you will occasionally see reference to the risk of climate-led outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases like encephalitis or West Nile as a way to get people to pay attention to climate change. That fear-factor didn't materialize in the political game, nor should it. (Mosquito species which spread those particular diseases do not grow more numerous with passing flood waters.)
Forty days and nights of rain in the upper Mid-west this summer, however, have unleashed the aggressively biting, but otherwise benign, plains flood-water mosquito (Aedes trivittatus) in record densities. Kids can't play outside. Golf games and camping trips are canceled. Outdoor Viking gas ranges lie unlit, alone in the shadows of darkened "chimineas." Farmers and landscape workers have to be miserable.There are upsides. Makers of repellents and flying insect sprays are doing a land office businesses. Corporate picnics and family reunions are on hold. We can expect a strong return to the screen porch - architectural innovation spurred by climate change - that also provides a nice alternative to air conditioning. But, will Michelle Bachmann's voting "base" in her Minnesota district connect the dots?
Probably not. Michele will just say that all we need is to make DDT legal again...
Meanwhile, here's what it looks like around Obama's home turf.
In the far western suburbs of Chicago, WGN TV reports
Wheaton Park Officials said the mosquito population has risen 45% since last summer.Being chewed upon tends to make people more subjective. In other coverage by WGN,
Abatement officials in the North Shore communities of Evanston, Wilmette and Glencoe are calling the mosquito populations unprecedented. Residents in Schaumburg, Palatine and Wheeling say they're being "eaten alive" even after applying insect repellent.And on the far south side, mosquitos like forclosures.
"You have so many abandoned homes where pools aren't being cared for and storm gutters are not being attended to,"Pretty much the same story in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, and so on.
Update: In anticipation of the Think Tankers who will attempt to spin this, I'd like to point out that this species drops its eggs outside the water - up on the banks and levees and beyond - in anticipation of periodic flooding. The eggs can go 2 or 3 or more years without floods. However, and this is the first key point, when floods become more intense and long lasting, as expected with climate change effects regionally, water inundates a much greater land area, creating exponentially greater suitable habitat for the floodwater mosquito to lay eggs in. This land may be on the perimeter of human development or amongst it. That may well be the case already (my speculation).
Second, underscoring the point that the floodwater mosquito in the US currently is not a disease vector, the adverse impacts of concern are: nuisance, decreased property value, lowered quality of life in the burbs, unpleasant working conditions for forest products and agriculture e tc..