Today’s Editorial May 24: Cayman mozzies know no boundaries

Brace yourselves.

The national bird of the Cayman Islands is about to take flight.

We’re not talking about the official National Bird, Cayman Parrots, but the nasty biting winged thing that makes its appearance when the skies decide to open.

We’re talking about mosquitoes.

A story on today’s front page warns us that the pets are going to be out in full force following recent rains.

Their buzz drones in your ear and their bite can be itchy, and if you’re allergic, painful.

And while we haven’t had any cases of dengue fever reported, we do have the mosquito in Cayman that is the vector for the disease.

While you spray on insect repellent and swat pesky mosquitoes, be thankful that you’re in Cayman today and not before 1965 when the Mosquito Research and Control Unit was established.

Before 1965 mosquito numbers in the Cayman Islands were legendary.

It’s been reported that on a single night, 793,103 mosquitoes were caught in a light trap in Bodden Town.

But mosquito infestations could also be deadly.

Livestock were known to have suffocated during the night when mosquitoes clogged their noses and mouths.

People who lived here did not venture out of doors without a smoke-pot to drive off mosquitoes.

While we still fight mosquitoes, we owe a lot to Dr. Marco Giglioli.

He believed that by manipulating the water levels of the swamps (the main breeding ground for mosquitoes) he could control mosquitoes by physical means.

He was right.

He then introduced a species of fish into the swamps that are a particularly voracious predator of mosquito larvae. Finally, aerial spraying in remote areas had a massive impact.

Today MRCU fights mosquitoes through aerial and truck spraying.

If you are new to the area, we will repeat our annual mantra of insisting that homeowners and visitors make sure any water collecting vessels are removed from their yards.

A neglected bird bath, swimming pool or clogged rain gutter can produce hundreds of new mosquitoes in just a few days.

Mosquitoes are typically worse at dawn and dusk, so wear topical mosquito repellent if going out. We also have daytime mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands, so remain vigilant.

Remember too, to keep your dogs protected from mosquitoes. The wrong bite from the wrong bug can lead to heartworms in dogs, which can result in death.

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