Mosquitoes killing animals by draining their blood

I noted this report following Hurricane Laura a couple of weeks ago.

Huge swarms of mosquitoes are draining blood from and killing livestock in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura swept through the state.

The mosquitoes, which were pushed from Louisiana swamps as a result of the storm, are draining blood from deer and cattle, as well as a few goats and horses, who become exhausted from blood loss and die, veterinarian Craig Fontenot told the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.

“They can’t get enough oxygen,” Fontenot explained.

. . .

Jeremy Hebert, an LSU AgCenter agent in Acadia Parish, said the mosquito population “just exploded in the southwest part of the state”.

There’s more at the link.

I wasn’t surprised to read it.  Coming from Africa, I’ve long been aware of a similar phenomenon when the rainy season begins across much of that continent.  Newly bred clouds of mosquitoes kill thousands of animals, and can even kill humans if they don’t protect themselves.  They also carry malaria, among other diseases, which kills tens of thousands more people each year.  They get very big, too . . . we used to joke that one of them landed at a South African Air Force base in Namibia, and the ground crew put in a hundred gallons of gas before they realized it wasn’t a fighter!

In Alaska, Miss D. informs me that the coming of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline actually increased animal populations, contrary to the fears of environmentalists, because it was built on artificially elevated land above the tundra.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

This meant that the (relatively strong) prevailing winds affected many of the mosquitoes in the area.  As they flew higher to clear the raised ground, the wind took them away.  That, in turn, meant that caribou and other animals that took to the higher ground beneath the pipeline were no longer preyed on as much by mosquitoes, and consequently more of them survived.

Most urban residents have no idea just how hazardous even tiny insects can be in the wild.  It’s one of the reasons I laugh when I hear so many “preppers” discuss how they’re going to retreat to the wilderness when SHTF or TEOTWAWKI happens.  Most of them haven’t included much in the way of anti-allergy, anti-insect-bite or insect repellent medications in their disaster preparations.  That’s yet another reason why I suspect they wouldn’t last very long out there . . .



  1. The Trans-Alaska pipeline also had the effect of forming a permanent 'warm zone' around it which the wildlife love as it takes less energy to stay warm around the pipeline, and which has allowed more calves to survive the winter.

    Kind of like the Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant being one of the major reasons for the continued survival of the manatee in Florida as the warm discharge water (warmer than normal water temps during the winter) means that more food is available and less energy needs to be expended to stay warm.

    And artificial reefs and drilling platforms have actually caused fish populations to go up radically once introduced into the local environs.

    Almost like man has a positive effect on the environment.

  2. I once spent 2 weeks backpacking in Denali. The locals said that the mosquito was the state bird, and I don't think they were entirely joking. The trip was worth every bite, but we frequently had to take refuge on snow fields to get a break from them.

  3. Beans beat me to it. 🙂 In Louisiana if three skeeters get together, they go, "Y'all want to eat him here, or take him home?"

  4. I just moved to my old house in New Iberia from my apartment in Lafayette and the mosquitoes let me know in no uncertain terms that they missed having the Andersons around.

  5. I'll always remember the curmudgeon from Minnesota who said: "Between the skeeters in the summer, and the ice in the winter, it tends to keep the riffraff out."
    I was backpacking once in the Cascades, and mosquitos chased me off the mountain. I'd tried setting up my tent and hiding inside, but as the sun was still up and hot, I started to bake. I just packed up and bailed out.

  6. On an excursion in Hungary once, I saw mosquitoes spearing a cake with gusto. How much blood does one mosquito bite draw? Has anybody ever measured?

  7. Hi Phillip. I will say, from mark one eyeball analysis, 1 to 2 drops, which translates to 0.0101442 to 0.0202884 teaspoons.

  8. I remember seeing caribou laying out on a windy hill side and deciding to close the distance by sneaking up a little draw protected from the wind.

    Big mistake. The mosquitoes quickly discovered a taste for pasty white boys.
    I think they carried a black fly under each wing as well.

  9. I'll note that the vast majority of new houses built here in west Texas do not have screens for windows and doors. Not very wise.

  10. The jacket and pilings for the pipeline create local warm zones, and convective warm air lofts mosquitos up and away. The crude oil is kept hot, so it can be pumped that distance; the pilings aren't just posts, but one-piece refrigerators with liquid ammonia for a working fluid. Right temperature range to keep permafrost frozen, good thermo properties. No moving parts – pipeline heats vapor, hot vapor gets forced through a simple expansion valve for adiabatic cooling that drops out liquid ammonia. Ammonia cool the permafrost and boils off, sending vapor back up to the pipeline. Pipeline stays hot in its jacket, permafrost remains frosty. One of my engineering profs worked on design and installation. The first couple installed made believers, when they saw the temperature records from pipeline, chiller, and permafrost layer. Practical problem worked in the classroom, with the hard part being the exact alloys used in pilings.

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