LACES Untied

LACES Untied

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Mosquito Madness

Increased Itchies
Photo+courtesy+of+National+Parks+service.
National Parks Service
Photo courtesy of National Parks service.

The increase in rain that Los Angeles has been experiencing, including the deluge brought by Tropical Storm Hilary, has provided the blood-sucking insects known as mosquitoes with an increased number of places to lay their eggs. Teachers and students alike have noticed these pests to be more prevalent than in years past.

“Recently I woke up and looked down at my leg and saw eleven mosquito bites,” said 10th grader Luna Al-Bondak. “I go to P.E. and there’s mosquitoes … I’ve also seen them in the bathrooms,” she continued. 

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done on school grounds about these pests, according to school officials

“We are not allowed to spray any insect repellent stuff on campus so that’s not an option. It’s an OESO [Occupation Environment and Safety Office] rule,” said assistant principal Mr. Rustum Jacob. He continued, saying, “We actually do have our ponds with lots of fish to eat the mosquito eggs. A lot of mosquitoes like to land there and they are not able to reproduce because of the way we treat our pond without using chemicals.”

The hatching place of these insects may not even be the LACES campus, but a nearby construction site.

“We are not the source of the mosquitoes,” said Jacob. “There’s usually some construction nearby that increases [the mosquito population] because there tends to be a lot of stuff laying around. Plus, they get undisturbed pools of water.” 

There are other ways to take action on mosquito infestations that don’t involve chemicals and pesticides. 

“Residents, or businesses, or schools, when you have a mosquito problem, are always encouraged to report it to your local vector control agency, and if they get enough reports from that area, they can send people out to investigate,” said Dr. Emily Beeler of the Veterinary Public Health Department.

Mosquitoes can breed in stagnant water underground in storm drains, which can fill up due to rain or water run-off from sprinklers. In the last decade, new strands of mosquitoes have started to breed in the storm drains of the Los Angeles area. 

“Starting around 2011 there were new mosquitoes that started to appear and spread in LA County: the Asian tiger mosquito, Australian backyard mosquito, and the yellow fever mosquito,” said Beeler.

All three of these mosquito species are grouped under the scientific name Aedes. The main concern for the future about the Aedes mosquitoes is that they can be vectors and spread diseases to humans.

“So now that there is a growing Aedes aegypti population within LA, if someone goes on a vacation and brings back a disease like dengue, or chikungunya, and then a mosquito in LA bites this person, it can cause an outbreak,” said USC assistant professor of anthropology Dr. Luisa Reis Castro.

Luckily, there are new technologies being used to reduce the risk of vector mosquitoes. One of these technologies turns mosquitoes that are vectors into non-vectors.

“There is a group using a bacteria called Wolbachia that inhibits viral replication, so the mosquitoes who have this bacterium would no longer be able to transmit viruses,” said Castro.

While the mosquitoes will still bite, they will no longer transmit deadly diseases like malaria, with this technology. Disease spread by mosquitoes could become extinct, if this bacterium becomes widespread. 

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About the Contributors
Charlotte Panofsky
Charlotte Panofsky, Doubletruck Editor
Hi! My name’s Charlotte, I’m in 10th grade and I’m so excited to be editing for doubletruck this year. I have a kitten named cheese. In my free time I enjoy crocheting, listening to music, playing my violin, and making birthday cakes for my friends.
Willa Queen-Yglesias
Willa Queen-Yglesias, Front Page Editor
Hi, I’m a 10th grader and it’s my second year at LACES Untied. I have two cats, one named Elliott and the other named Kat.
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