Parts of Louisiana hit hard by Hurricane Laura have been left fighting off hordes of mosquitoes so vast they are killing farm animals by biting them in huge numbers.
The animals are dying from the sheer number of bites, which leave them anemic and bleeding under the skin, as well as from the exhaustion caused by constantly moving to avoid the insects.
According to Dr Craig Fontenot, a vet in the city of Ville Platte, the “vicious little suckers”, pushed out of marshes by the huge storm, have already claimed some 300-400 cattle, as well as a few horses.
Goats have so far been spared as they are kept in stalls that can be sprayed with insecticide, but one deer rancher has lost at least 30 of his animals.
Large-scale insecticide spraying efforts are underway to fight the hordes of bloodsucking insects. In Acadia County, local Lousiana AgCenter agent Jeremy Hebert reported that "the spraying has dropped the populations tremendously. It's made a night-and-day difference", though other counties are still struggling to turn the tide.
Hurricanes often present a risk of surging mosquito populations, as eggs laid by floodwater mosquitoes in previous floods start to hatch. While adult mosquitoes generally do not survive a hurricane’s high winds, the egg-hatching phase that kicks in after a storm can drive a huge increase in the population.
While these explosions are not usually associated with disease outbreaks, some parts of Louisiana saw an uptick in cases of West Nile Virus after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
With Associated Press