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Flying assassins: Elephant mosquitoes unleashed in Houston to target evil counterparts

The mosquito assassins eat the larvae from smaller mosquitoes that spread diseases. And they don't bite humans.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Mosquitoes in Harris County, beware! One of your worst enemies has been unleashed to eat your children.

The elephant mosquito, aka mosquito assassin, is a proven predator of some mosquitoes that spread infectious or tropical diseases, including the Asian tiger, southern house and yellow fever mosquitoes.

Not only do they eat their larvae, the elephant mosquitoes don’t suck the blood of humans and they pollinate flowers. Oh, and did we mention they are pretty?

That's why Harris County Precinct 4 and the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Cockrell Butterfly Center are joining forces to study the results of launching “mosquito assassins” on mosquito populations in a semi-controlled environment.

“The mosquito assassin poses no risk to the environment or man and helps control mosquito populations,” Anita Schiller, director of Precinct 4’s Biological Control Initiative, explained. “They are also beautifully colored, much like some butterflies."

Kind of like Jon Snow and Dany vs. White Walkers in the Game of Thrones battle of good vs. evil.

Precinct 4 chose the butterfly center for the study because of its contained environment, healthy ecosystem and unique ability to educate the public about innovative bio-control methods.

“This study will give us a better idea of how fast mosquito assassins reproduce and eliminate mosquitoes in a semi-controlled environment,” Schiller said.

Schiller and her team have released the elephant mosquitoes in Precinct 4 parks.

Field studies in Louisiana revealed that the release of mosquito assassins, followed by ultra-low-volume insecticide application, reduced the target pest population by 98%. Using insecticide alone, only led to a 29% reduction.

To learn more about the Harris County Precinct 4 Biological Control Initiative, visit www.hcp4.net/bci.


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