Thursday, March 17, 2016

Aedes aegypti--Oh Boy!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A damp morning here on the mountain with a 44.2° temperature and a 2-3-4 mph breeze. The snow is about melted from the fields and woods around the house and it's hard to believe that winter never really materialized. My benchmarks involve how many times I put the  snowplow on the truck and this year it occurred just once. Memories of last year's gardens is what keeps me going this time of year when we are between seasons.

Looking out the office window at puddles of water reminded me of an article I just read on one of the entomology sites I subscribe to. It mentioned the Zika crisis and Aedes aegypti, the insidious mosquito that is actively involved in spreading disease and death. Some of the attributes of this insect served as reminder to the spring clean up that we should probably give more importance to. In Vermont, for years and years, we have had Vermont Green Up Day, a giant effort to pick up roadside and "public places" trash and make our state look nicer for the coming summer. It's a great event and in recent years I have noticed that some folks start the event earlier and keep their clean-up going longer. I like that. 

The Aedes egypti mosquito has been around for a long time. It was targeted for its links to dengue and yellow fever and also chikungunya and now has been identified relative to Zika. This mosquito is known to bite during days or nights and is described as a container breeder because the females lay eggs in small amounts of water found is trash, cans, bottles, old tires, and rain gutters. It takes little water to serve as a nesting site and their primary target is human blood. That explains the links between people and trash. 

Aedes aegypti are known to live in South and Central America so most would probably say that Vermont is a stretch. I suggest that maybe we should keep track of what climate change has done to animals and insects. We may not like it, but some critters seem to acclimate to new and unusual places. Large snakes are becoming very large problems halfway up the US coast now. As pets, they have been abandoned into the wild and although some have said that they cannot live where it gets cold, that just doesn't hold true. They may not make it in Vermont but in the past year wildlife control staff have had to deal with alligators and large snakes in proximity to Washington DC. The Charles River in Boston has long been the home of piranha, that toothy fish from South America that prefers schools of company and can devour a large cow in short order. Changes happen!

So as spring weather approaches, thoughts of Green Up Day may have a different meaning this year. Maybe just maybe, we should relate our clean up not just to sprucing up the roads and byways but to improving our likelihood of better health. As I walked along the part of our land that parallels Route 232 last week, I found 5 tires that had been rolled off someone's car and down the hill. Someone apparently thought "Out of sight, out of mind." and didn
't want to pay the recycling charge. Chances are good however that left there,  those 5 tires will become breeding habitat for insects after this week's rain and soon-to-come warm weather. Let's think this through and do a better job. And no matter what our opinion on Aedes aegypti, let's Green Up Vermont!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the ground outside my window is full of juncos as noisy crows discuss political news from nearby maples. Be well!

George Africa

The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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And remember, we're always here to help you grow your green thumb!

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I am sorry to hear an inconsiderate driver left five tires on your property, sticking you with the recycling charge. Never ceases to amaze me that some people think that just because a residence is not in view it means the area is "no man's land" and they can do what they wish to it. The things I have seen thrown over a bank along our road just appall me, and we are pretty sure our pet cat was just dumped out of car by someone who no longer wanted her. I guess anonymity breeds irresponsibility.