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Mosquito Scientist: Urban Areas Are Insect’s Breeding Grounds

March 19, 1985

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Despite a national decline in mosquitoes, U.S. cities are becoming breeding grounds for the pesky insects, and an entomologist says the urban growth of mosquitoes could lead to increased disease.

Lights on skyscrapers are ″veritable beacons to mosquitoes,″ which also are attracted by lue street lights in urban centers, said William R. Horsfall, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaig n.

″Metropolitan areas have created immense lighted zones that influence movement and places of congregation of invading mosquitoes,″ Horsfall told the American Mosquito Control Association on Monday.

He told about 800 members of the nation’s mosquito control community that the problem is acute on the East Coast, where urban centers provide a concentration of lights ″from Maine to Florida.″

Sodium vapor lights emitting an orange glow are ″less attractive than the lights at the blue end of the spectrum,″ he said.

In addition, urban development that does not account for new forms of drainage has spawned fertile breeding grounds, Horsfall said. ″In their haste to build, developers often failed to provide adequate replacement drainage means for disposal of summer deluges.

″The former absorbent agricultural soil is replaced by roofs, sidewalks, streets and parking lots.″

While chemicals and other forms of insect control have helped decrease mosquito populations elsewhere, they have not been as successful in the cities and developing areas.

″Nationally, the mosquito population is greatly reduced,″ but their numbers are on the rise in the cities, he said.

One result of the rising urban mosquito population may be an increase in cases of disease carried by the pesky insects, Horsfall said.

The mosquito experts said that they have noticed a rise in the spread of some mosquito-borne diseases, such as various forms of encephalitis and dog heartworm, which Horsfall said has become so prevalant in the Midwest that pets have a 99 percent chance of contracting the disease if the animal is left out overnight during the summer.

And there have been several rare cases of humans contracting dog heartworm, which is a parasite that afflicts the circulatory system, he said.

Insect control officials are particularly concerned with about 50 to 75 of the more than 3,500 mosquito types that affect humans, he said.

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