Blood-Sucking, Livestock-Killing Mosquito Hordes Are 2020's Latest Gift

Giant hordes of blood-sucking mosquitoes have reportedly swarmed livestock to death in Louisiana this month, the latest gift 2020 has brought to Americans.

Farmers in the state have lost hundreds of cattle due to the massive insect swarms, which arrived after Hurricane Laura brought heavy rainfall to the area, according to Global News. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that large mosquito populations are often seen following a hurricane, as their eggs hatch after previously being laid in the floodwater.

While this doesn't happen too often, when it does occur, the situation can become severe, Dr. Christine Navarre, a veterinarian at Louisiana State University's AgCenter, told Newsweek.

"This does occur after some hurricanes, and particularly when we've been dry and the mosquito eggs and larva just kind of build up, and then all of a sudden you get the storm, and they all hatch at once," Navarre said.

Dr. Craig Fontenot, a large-animal veterinarian in Ville Platte, described to the Associated Press the gruesome manner in which the mosquitoes bring livestock to their death. The bugs suck the animals' blood, leaving them weakened and anemic. Many of the cows continue to bleed under their skin, starving for oxygen and ultimately dying.

"They're vicious little suckers," Fontenot said, adding that the mosquitoes have become a big issue in five of Louisiana's eastern parishes. Officials in other nearby localities are preparing farms and marshes with pesticides in an effort to reduce the mosquito population, according to a statement from the AgCenter.

One deer rancher reportedly lost 30 of his 110 animals, equating to more than $100,000, Fontenot told the AP.

In addition to aerial spraying, farmers can apply products directly to their livestock to protect them from the blood-sucking insects, Navarre said in a news release.

"Good general nutrition and managing other stressors such as heat and transport are the best medicine," she said.

And while these mosquitoes can be deadly for the livestock, they are generally just a nuisance for humans, Navarre told Newsweek.

"Fortunately, the mosquito species does not transmit human diseases like West Nile very efficiently," she said. "It shouldn't increase human diseases."

Experts anticipate that the large insect swarms will be around for two to three weeks post-Hurricane Laura, and then the numbers are expected to drop off. The problem shouldn't spread to other areas of the state or country, Navarre added.

The veterinarian stressed that farmers who might need to use pesticides and other products to help quell the mosquito masses to read the labels to ensure their safety.

Mosquito Control Florida
Billy Ryan and Meredith Kruse (L-R) with the Florida Keys mosquito control department inspect a neighborhood for any mosquitoes or areas where they can breed as the county works to eradicate mosquitoes carrying dengue fever on July 8, 2020 in Key Largo, Florida. Giant hordes of blood-sucking mosquitoes have reportedly swarmed livestock to death in Louisiana in September. Joe Raedle/Getty

Reports of these killer mosquitoes are reminiscent of the "murder hornets," which incited fear in Americans when they were spotted emerging from hibernation earlier this summer. Asian giant hornets were initially found in Blaine, Washington, in December, and can grow up to two inches long with a three-inch wingspan.

While scientists claim the insects are largely uninterested in people and do not impose a direct threat, their six-millimeter-long stinger can deliver a potent neurotoxin coupled with excruciating pain—certainly enough to spark panic. Those who disturb the hornets' nests can be killed after being stung multiple times.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott moved in May to convene a "murder hornet" task force following the sightings, led by Texas A&M AgriLife.

Allen Gibbs, an insect expert from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, warned last month that the giant hornets could become "very widespread" in North America as an invasive species.

"They could become a permanent feature if they aren't wiped out soon," Gibbs told Newsweek.

This past June, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services identified specimens of the invasive and disease-carrying Asian tiger mosquito in Wayne County, the state's most populated county. The mosquitoes could potentially spread dengue, chikungunya and Zika—viruses which can cause fever, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain and rashes.

Update (09/10/20, 6:24 p.m.): This article has been updated to include comments from Dr. Christine Navarre, a veterinarian at Louisiana State University's AgCenter.