Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Mighty Mosquito (7/18/06)

Consider the humble mosquito. Only 15 mm in length and 2 mg in weight, yet still a health hazard to many, an annoying pest to most, and a vampire in the strictest sense. But even this disease-spreading parasite has its interesting points. The Culicidae (or "skeeter" to you) dates back more than 140 million years, when it hobnobbed with the dinosaurs. And were it not for the New Jersey State bird's ability to spread malaria, Napoleon might never have agreed to sell a good chunk of North America to Thomas Jefferson. Of course, even these fun facts don't mean you should befriend the mosquito. She (female mosquitoes do the biting) can still pack a mean wallop, health-wise. From encephalitis and Dengue Fever to Yellow Fever, and West Nile Virus, the mosquito can spread them all. And don't think garlic can protect you, either. Only chemicals like DEET can keep the little buggers from biting.

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