Much more lethal than sharks, wolves, bears or any other beast with fangs is the little mosquito, which has the title of the most deadly animal in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that "millions" of people die every year from diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. Fortunately, scientists have devised a strategy to significantly reduce the mosquito population, but it requires sending tens or even hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes to different areas of the world, often through the mail.
I could badume that I would need a large enough package to send these thousands of mosquitoes. But a new study has found that you can really compress these pests into a ridiculously small space, and they will stay alive. They will even survive the trip better than the mosquitoes packed freely.
That small Good, according to the researchers behind the new study, published on Wednesday in the Journal of Insect Science, the magic number is around 240 mosquitoes per cubic centimeter. That equates to about 1,200 mosquitoes in a single teaspoon, and up to 2,500 in a 10-milliliter syringe. Another way of imagining it: there are 7,200 live mosquitoes packed in a 1-ounce shot glbad.
The team, led by researchers from the State University of New Mexico, came to this calculation after conducting a series of laboratory and real-world experiments, including sending insects through the nightly mail. They hoped to discover the best way to use these annoying bloodsuckers to save lives.
In the 1950s, scientists devised an intelligent way to eradicate dangerous insects without using pesticides, called the sterile insect technique. Basically, you breed a giant population of male insects in the laboratory and sterilize them without damaging them in any other way. Then, you release them in nature, with the hope that they reproduce with the females. Over time, as the intact males leave the mating game and the females lay eggs that never reach maturity, the entire population decreases.
The first insect with which it was tried, with great success, was the fly of the screwworm. Since then, the technique has been used to eradicate populations of various fruit flies and moths. And today, researchers, including the scientists behind this latest study, are beginning to enthusiastically test whether it can work for the world's deadliest animal, the mosquito.
But according to the principal investigator Immo Hansen, the use of the mosquito technique represents a logistical obstacle rather than for the screwworm fly.
"Male mosquitoes are very lazy. They do not like to fly much, "Hansen told Gizmodo." For a lifetime, they will fly up to 100 meters, 200 meters, but no more. "
Due to this laziness, eradication campaigns should make sterile mosquitoes as close as possible to the action. The use of aerial drones can help, but we still have to make sure they are stored, packaged and released safely, without accidentally killing or mutilating them.
So Hansen and his team conducted experiments in the laboratory, hoping to find the ideal shipping conditions for mosquitoes. They tested a variety of temperatures to keep the insects lazy. They also tested how well they could pack mosquitoes in various sizes of syringes. Then they went a step further and sent thousands of New Mexico errors to their colleagues at the University of California, Davis.
Mosquitoes were generally fine and kept refrigerated at a wide range of temperatures, although 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius) seemed ideal. And in the lab, initially there did not seem to be a significant difference in the survival rate when it came to how tight they were. But things changed in the live test.
"It turns out that highly compacted mosquitoes survived the trip better than vagrants," Hansen said. "We believe that this is because the vibrations of the airplane damaged the little compacted mosquitoes."
The next team plans to test their theory that vibrations cause more deaths in loose groups. They also hope to carry out live tests of the mosquitoes sent to make sure that the reduced agreements do not hamper the mosquitoes' mating capacity.
"We are going to work with our physical science laboratory here in the State of New Mexico, since they have vibration tables that they use to make electronic devices vibration proof," Hansen said.
And if you're wondering, yes, it's pretty legal to send mosquitoes (and other insects) through the US Postal Service. UU., As long as you follow its rules.[Journal of Insect Science]