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North Carolina Has a Massive Mosquito Problem After Hurricane Florence

You may have seen social media references recently about armies of giant mosquitoes capable of assaulting you through two layers of clothes waging war on unsuspecting victims of Hurricane Florence. If you’re one of those who scrolled on, laughing when you saw those posts, because, well, you know that’s just an exaggeration, Huffington Post is here to tell you it’s true: Giant, “blood-sucking” mosquitoes that are three times larger than regular mosquitoes are plaguing North Carolina, and they’re such a nuisance that some people have dubbed them the new state bird.

The state has launched a counterattack with $4 million in funding to get rid of them. Although these mosquitoes aren’t known to transmit disease, they still are so scary that people are staying inside instead of working on hurricane recovery efforts, the governor’s office said, in explaining why the counterattack is necessary. The governor is also urging people to wear insect repellent whenever they go outside.

I can understand why some people might think they’re in the middle of a giant insect invasion movie from the 1950s when they see these mosquitoes but, still, the stakes are high when we start spraying for every bug that’s bothering us. The problem is history is rife with pest control experiments gone terribly wrong, and since these flying monsters don’t pose a health issue other than they bite, it bears considering that maybe a $4 million spray program isn’t really necessary.

The thing is, when you do this, the chemicals are sprayed on everything — not just mosquitoes. And that includes YOU. When you consider that insect species around the world are diminishing by the thousands, in part because of the chemicals humans think they need to spray to control them, it’s pretty serious. The truth is insects are on this Earth for a reason.

These seemingly inconsequential bugs hold great power in plant pollination, soil microbial diversification, environmental cleanup and wildlife support. Insects are in a unique position to perform these functions in what appears to be a flawless and effortless fashion.

If you don’t think dwindling insect populations affect you, think again. If nothing else, this ecological disaster may ultimately affect your food prices at the grocery store. You see, nearly 60 percent of birds rely on insects for food and 80 percent of wild plants depend on them for pollination. Not only that, insects also contribute to pest control, and are crucial to waste management and biodiversity.

As far as spraying yourself down with insecticide before you go outside, whether you live in North Carolina or anywhere else in the world, there are natural products you can use that don’t contain deadly chemicals. For example, products containing picaridin — a natural compound resembling the essential oil in black pepper (aka, piperine) or oil of lemon eucalyptus have been found to work better than DEET at repelling insects. There are side effects such as potential skin or eye irritation from both these substances, but those side effects pale when compared to those of DEET or other highly dangerous pesticides.

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