Pests got upper hand during Hurricane Harvey - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Pests got upper hand during Hurricane Harvey

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Posted: Sunday, July 8, 2018 8:04 pm

In last year’s onslaught against the Texas coast to the north, more than 50 inches of rain was recorded in some areas around Houston during and after Hurricane Harvey.

With more than three dozen people dead in connection with the storm, and billions of dollars in property damage, nature had more tests for those attempting to begin the long cleanup.

“At that time, actually the worst one that they had is the salt marsh mosquito, and those are not capable of transmitting diseases,” said Ismael E. Badillo-Vargas, an assistant professor of insect vector biology with Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

“But they are big mosquitoes and that means that their proboscis, their mouth part, is really big, so the bite of the female is really painful. That female could actually even feed not just directly on your bare skin but can even feed through clothes.”

The salt marsh mosquitoes feasted on not just humans but warm-blooded animals as well, all the way from Corpus Christi to Houston.

While we humans can and do fight back, by staying inside, dressing appropriately or splashing on insect repellent by the pint, mammal species here in Texas are not so adaptable.

Entomologists with Texas A&M say the mosquito outbreak surrounding Houston following Hurricane Harvey’s record rainfall last year was particularly gruesome for wild, warm-blooded species.

The swarms of mosquitoes, primarily the salt marsh variety, were so thick that hundreds of white-tailed deer died from asphyxiation after breathing in thousands of mosquitoes which obstructed their respiratory passages.

“It’s like there are so many that basically the animal cannot get rid of them, they clog the nostrils and the animals don’t have a way to easily breathe,” Badillo-Vargas said.

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