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Athens Breeding "Super Mosquitoes"

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the all-the-better-to-suck-your-blood-with dept.

458

Chemisor writes "Air pollution and cramped housing conditions in Athens, Greece, are creating a new breed of mosquitoes which are bigger, faster, and can smell humans from farther away. The super insects have color vision and detect humans from 25-30 meters, which is about 50% farther than the ordinary mosquitoe. Beating their wing 500 times a second provides them with extra speed, and the larger bodies (by 0.3ug) presumably allow larger bloodsucking capacity." And in a similar vein (har har) New Scientist had a piece about what mosquitoes like or hate about people.

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Minnesota State Bird (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660184)

Growing up, I was ravaged by mosquitoes daily in the summers. There were years when they were particularly bad and they would literally swarm you. They were huge too. If you think it's cold in Minnesota and we don't have mosquitoes, you're wrong. They just had to be that much bigger and drink that much more blood to survive. You would be out playing baseball and three of them would hold you down while another worked his proboscis through your breastplate directly into your heart. Often times there wouldn't be much left of me but skin and bones when I got home. And that was if you were lucky. If there were six or more, oftentimes they'd just grab your shoulders and carry you back to their nest and you'd never be seen again.

If you have someone that loves "all of God's creatures" then you should throw them in pond filled with mosquitoes and see how long it takes them to become a killing machine. Not very long I'd wager. In fact, mosquitoes are pretty good proof that there is no god. Why would a being of infinite good unleash such a horrible plague upon man?

It seemed that the people who produced the most sweat and breathed the hardest were the most attractive. These features seem to come hand in hand with being overweight but I never really bought the idea that overweight people's blood tasted better. If that were true, all the mosquitoes would have moved to Wisconsin.

Instead, you'd have mosquitoes buzzing around your mouth & ears. Why? Because I guess they are attracted to carbon dioxide big time. You accumulate natural carbon dioxide in the wells of your ears and it pours out of your mouth. They also somehow detect lactic acid which you'll find about large animals.

For those of you who don't know, mosquitoes breed in water (when the eggs hatch, they look like this [howstuffworks.com] ). Not moving water, but standing water. One of the tasks I used to have was laying silage down, putting a tarp over it and weighting the tarp down with old tires. Invariably, rainfall would fill the insides of the tires with just enough water to make them each a breeding well for mosquitoes. It's not a fun job but you have to make sure that all that old scummy water is emptied out otherwise you'd find yourself engulfed with mosquitoes at the end of the summer.

I've never underestimated mosquitoes, I think they need to be very good at detecting carbon dioxide, scents, heat & water vapor in order to successfully find food for their eggs and lay them. This is quite a task considering what they've got and I think that it's amazing they manage to reproduce at all. I dream of the day when mosquitoes are endangered organisms.

*mental note* Do not hold Olympic summer games in Athens, Greece.

Re:Minnesota State Bird (3, Funny)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660260)

There were years when they were particularly bad and they would literally swarm you. They were huge too.

Yeah, it's funny to read this account but it's all too true. I was sitting out on a friend's deck last night and the little fuckers not only got me but got me through my sneakers and through my sock. I now have one of the largest welts *EVER* on my foot in the most uncomfortable spot to itch and irritate :(

If only mosquitos came with something positive like the Cane Toads... Mmm, licking toads! Unfortunately they only come with West Nile and various other nasty diseases. I don't exactly think that the "high" from West Nile would be as enjoyable ;) Nor watching them smash into your windshield at 80mph on I-35 N is as enjoyable as listening to the toads *pop* in the road when you run over them.

Bleh :(

Re:Minnesota State Bird (4, Funny)

EEJD (901217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660327)

The summer games were held there in 2004. Having to catch the sprinters is probably why these mosquitos had to get faster...

Re:Minnesota State Bird (2, Funny)

Andrew Nagy (985144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660347)

I spent a couple summers in Minnesota and came to a conclusion... the state motto is incomplete. it should read:

"Land of Ten Thousand Lakes...and a Hundred Billion Mosquitos."

Re:Minnesota State Bird (1)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660358)

This is true in Alaska, as well. Never been to Minnesota, but Alaskan mosquitos are easily twice the size of ones I've seen in other places (in Illinois now, but I've live on both coasts and they have puny bugs too).

The "state bird" joke is quite common up there, too.

When biking in the mountains back behind Anchorage, a buddy and I would fight over who had to "ride point" because the bugs could get so thick, we'd quite literally inhale mosquitos, there's so many of them desperate for some blood. Logic was the guy in front parted the wave so the guy in back was saved some of the torture.

Re:Minnesota State Bird (2, Interesting)

Canthros (5769) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660367)

Yead, no kidding.

I took a canoe trip up to the BSA high adventure base on the northern tier several years back as part of a group from the local BSA council. Neat trip on the whole, but I got bit by a mosquito *through* my sleeping bag the first night. Holy hell.

Re:Minnesota State Bird (5, Funny)

scovetta (632629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660537)

That's nothing dude! One time, I was driving through Minnesota in my car and a mosquito flew into my winshield, making a small crack in it. As I was distracted from that, it's friend bit me THROUGH THE CAR DOOR! I couldn't believe it, but there I had it, a welt on my arm and a mosquito embedded in my car door.

I had a friend once who stepped on a mosquito once... the thing just laughed, threw my friend to the ground and bit him until he was on the verge of death. It left a note telling him to leave town or he'd get it again.

Scary shit.

Re:Minnesota State Bird (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660394)

I was raised in Michigan, and we had the same problem. With 11,000 lakes not including the Great Lakes it makes a haven for them. I think the residents of any State with lakes in the thousands, like Minnesota and Michigan feel your pain. I now live in Virginia, unfortunately I'm close to the "Great Dismal Swamp". Is it wrong to want the extermination of one little species? I promise I will do all it takes to save the spotted owl or some other species. My daughter's legs look like she has the chicken pox.

Michigan State Bird (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660491)

It's not the size, is the quantity. We had big, even HUGE mosquitoes in Michigan, but it was the tenacious little bitsy ones that appeared in great quantities and stung the most. Smaller mosquitoes also are able to get through smaller holes and gaps and were typically the ones found indoors.

It's been said "Intimidation is being in a dark room with a mosquito." As tired as you may be, lying in bed, there's something about that faint whine that can make the most tired very alert.

"Air pollution and cramped housing conditions in Athens, Greece, are creating a new breed of mosquitoes which are bigger, faster, and can smell humans from farther away. The super insects have color vision and detect humans from 25-30 meters, which is about 50% farther than the ordinary mosquitoe. Beating their wing 500 times a second provides them with extra speed, and the larger bodies (by 0.3ug) presumably allow larger bloodsucking capacity.

I like Dave Barry's line about armor piercing stealth mosquitoes and think this is what the Greeks are up to. Screw the North Koreans, it's the greeks we need to keep an eye on.

One last thing: Ponds are filled with mosquitoes. Larvae perhaps, but not the adults. Mosquitoes prefer long grass or shade, which is why it's often a good idea to just write off the golfball hit into the brush or edge or woods. Worst around ponds are deer flies, which I used to refer to as Flying Bastards

Re:Minnesota State Bird (-1, Offtopic)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660497)

I have to laugh at things like "there's no god because a being of infinite good..." who says God has to be infinitely good or compasionate, maybe this is further proof He's one Bad Ass Mother Fucker, ready to bust open His Infinite Can of Holy Whoop-Ass on Yo Azz

Re:Minnesota State Bird (2, Funny)

Megane (129182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660511)

Down here in Texas we like to joke with furriners (non-Texans) by showing them crane flies [wikipedia.org] and saying that those are Texas mosquitoes.

"Mosquitoe"? (1, Funny)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660187)

Did Dan Quayle write this summary?

The super insects have color vision and detect humans from 25-30 meters, which is about 50% farther than the ordinary mosquitoe.

Re:"Mosquitoe"? (2, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660221)

Did Dan Quayle write this summary?

As much as I would like to make fun of Quayle, mosquitoe is the British spelling much like colour is the British spelling of color.

Re:"Mosquitoe"? (-1, Offtopic)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660254)

As much as I would like to make fun of Quayle, mosquitoe is the British spelling much like colour is the British spelling of color.

Indeed. So Quayle must have been using the British spelling of "tomato" as well.

Re:"Mosquitoe"? (-1, Offtopic)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660282)

Indeed. So Quayle must have been using the British spelling of "tomato" as well.

I thought that was potato? At any rate, some Americans are *affected* like that. :-)

Re:"Mosquitoe"? (1, Funny)

thc69 (98798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660357)

Dave, you ignorant slut! It was potato, not tomato.

Obviously, the dog is on fire.

Re:"Mosquitoe"? (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660393)

Ah...there are quite many references to Qualye and "tomatoe" when I searched [google.com] , so I assumed that must have been the one. But, indeed, there are more references to the actual "potatoe" incident.

Re:"Mosquitoe"? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660487)

Ah...there are quite many references to Qualye and "tomatoe" when I searched, so I assumed that must have been the one.

That's because the two make a very delectable dish when prepared together. You can also throw some potatoes in there if you'd like.

Re:"Mosquitoe"? (1)

malkavian (9512) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660449)

It is? Wonder why I've been buying Mosquito repellent in England then (for a quick trip abroad)..

Re:"Mosquitoe"? (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660494)

It is? Wonder why I've been buying Mosquito repellent in England then (for a quick trip abroad).

Look on the container..... Where is it made? My understanding is that most repellent (with DEET) is made in the US.

Mod parent down Re:"Mosquitoe"? (2, Informative)

middlemen (765373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660469)

Hi The spelling of mosquito in English is "mosquito" and not "mosquitoe".

Re:Mod parent down Re:"Mosquitoe"? (0, Offtopic)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660536)

Reference please? Because my publication reference book sitting here tells me that the UK spelling of "mosquitoe" is acceptable.

Re:"Mosquitoe"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660542)

...mosquitoe is the British spelling much like colour...


"Informative"? Bwaaahahah, mods are so gullible. [freesearch.co.uk]

Hemos, eh? (4, Funny)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660198)

Your name is strikingly apropos to the subject, my friend.

Color vision (5, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660199)

Regular mosquito species are dichromats. In other words, all mosquitos, like many insects that I know of have color vision. Some insects like bees are actually trichromats (like humans), but have their photopigments tuned higher up in the spectrum. So, super mosquitos having color vision is no different than regular mosquitos, unless they have developed a third chromophore which the article does not state.

Makes no sense (4, Insightful)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660200)

If this is happening due to many humans being in even smaller spaces, why the hell does the insect need color vision, and the ability to smell humans from even FARTHER away? I don't see how that need could have evolved to be beneficial... the speed thing I can see... I'm truly confused as to why such a feature would evolve with seemingly no benefit.

Re:Makes no sense (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660237)

Duh, because in cramped spaces full of humans, it only makes sense that insects with better vision and smell will evolve. Nothing like bumping into food every few meters to make good eyesight an evolutionary necessity.

Re:Makes no sense (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660249)

I'm truly confused as to why such a feature would evolve with seemingly no benefit.

Color vision is a distinct evolutionary advantage in a number of settings. As I said before however, regular mosquitos have some form of color vision with two photopigments. Bees have three photopigments that are tuned up into the UV portion of the spectrum so they can better identify pollinating flowers. For mosquitos, perhaps a little color vision would help them to better identify easy meals like pink apes rather than tougher meals like animals with lots of hair....

Re:Makes no sense (1, Funny)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660461)

perhaps a little color vision would help them to better identify easy meals like pink apes rather than tougher meals like animals with lots of hair....

To mosquitos in Greece those two would be indistinguishable.

Re:Makes no sense (1)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660290)

...why the hell does the insect need color vision?...

May be they are racist? ;)

KKK (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660348)

So, does the mosquito wearing the white robes bite the Caucasian because only true Aryan blood will do, or the Afro-American because, for so many years they have lived off their blood and sweat?

Thanks for the smile, rovingeyes.

Re:Makes no sense (3, Funny)

Lave (958216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660364)

If this is happening due to many humans being in even smaller spaces, why the hell does the insect need color vision, and the ability to smell humans from even FARTHER away? I don't see how that need could have evolved to be beneficial... the speed thing I can see... I'm truly confused as to why such a feature would evolve with seemingly no benefit.

Well one big factor with evolution is having the energy to run your body. Humans spends a vast percentage of the energy we generate on keeping are brain's ticking over - which we can only maintain because the brain allows to us generate enough food to make that reasonable. Where most animals have as stupid a brain as they can get away with - as it's cheaper to run.

These insects already had color vision, the ability to smell humans from a distance, and bodies - but the greater population of humans created a situation where they can afford to grow bigger, afford to run more powerful noses and afford better vision- as there is enough food to support the greater level of energy these "improved" bodies require to be sustained.

Likewise - if food becomes scarce for these animals evolution will lead to them becoming more fuel efficient again.

This is analogous to the situation facing Americans and their SUVs.

Extra bit (2, Informative)

Lave (958216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660428)

A crucial point I forgot to mention in the above is that this allows them to better compete with the rest of their species - the larger, faster, "better" mossies will be able to bread more often than the "ordinary" mossies - and the increased amount of food supports them in that aim.

The better vision allows you to see more chicks to impregnate.

Just because you can't immediately see why evolution would lead to something - doesn't mean that it won't happen - it just means your not looking at the situation right.

Re:Makes no sense (1)

debianlinux (548082) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660438)

Your food availability hypothesis falls apart in face of the fact that mosquitoes do not require blood for sustenance. The blood is only drawn by female mosquitoes for the eggs. Male and non-gestating female mosquitoes have the same diet as most butterflies. IOW, the food supply is not a factor.

Re:Makes no sense (1)

Lave (958216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660520)

Your food availability hypothesis falls apart in face of the fact that mosquitoes do not require blood for sustenance. The blood is only drawn by female mosquitoes for the eggs. Male and non-gestating female mosquitoes have the same diet as most butterflies. IOW, the food supply is not a factor.

It does if you make the assumption that blood is the only way a large city like athens increases the food available to mosquitoes.

But more importantly - I disagree - male Mosquitoes die within a few days - and typically only feed after mating - so are not particulary important when it comes to sexual selection. But the diet of blood that the female uses to lay eggs keeps her alive for weeks and so this increased food supply will do as I outlined.

Re:Makes no sense (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660375)

The only thing I can figure is that these advancements were made possible by the increase in size- due to excessive food- and that since there's certainly nothing disadvantageous about them, they've been passed on to subsequent generations.

simple solution... (1, Funny)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660203)

...live in the city. The air quality is so bad here I'd be amazed if any mosquitoe could survive long term.

Re:simple solution... (5, Funny)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660275)

...live in the city. The air quality is so bad here I'd be amazed if any mosquitoe could survive long term.
But then you'll have to deal with cockroaches evolving opposable thumbs.

Re:simple solution... (3, Informative)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660306)

...live in the city. The air quality is so bad here I'd be amazed if any mosquitoe could survive long term.

Helloooooo? Athens is a city [google.com] .

Re:simple solution... (1)

rahrens (939941) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660384)

Didn't you RTFA? It siad that these mosquitos evolved IN ATHENS. Last time I checked, with four million people, Athens is a major city.

duh...

Re:simple solution... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660543)

...live in the city. The air quality is so bad here I'd be amazed if any mosquitoe could survive long term.

Right... perhaps the concrete jungle of lower Manhattan. I've been to Athens a couple times and have to tell you, the park around the Acropolis was an absolute dump when I visited. Trash everywhere, long grass, etc. Perfect for breeding mosquitoes. All a mosquitoe needs is a small amount of standing water, capable of growing a bit of algae and they're set. A styrene cup would do nicely.

Quick! (1)

Rendo (918276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660207)

Find a company located in Athens that specializes in insect repellent and invest invest invest!!!

Nosquito (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660208)

Note to self. "Nosquito" is kind of a lame name for repackaged Off. Need better brand name.

I think I smell a Sci-Fi channel movie of the week (1)

MrTester (860336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660212)

I thought of it first!!
My idea! Stay away!
This is perfect. If I had a legitamatley good idea for a movie, Sci-Fi would warp it beyond recognition, but with something like this I bet they would take it word for word!

Re:I think I smell a Sci-Fi channel movie of the w (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660293)

Uhhh....

Too late.

Mansquito

http://www.scifi.com/mansquito/ [scifi.com]

Re:I think I smell a Sci-Fi channel movie of the w (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660297)

Sci-Fi has already had a movie about mosquetos.

As one of the luck few... (2, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660213)

Some unfortunate people are irresistible to mosquitoes, while the scent of some lucky individuals drives the blood-suckers away.
...
A key chemical identified by Logan as a repellent is also "a natural food additive, so has proven safety", he says. "And because it can be made by plants, it may one day be possible to mass produce it cheaply."
Great. So lets breed mosquitoes which aren't repelled by us lucky few. Wonderful.

Re:As one of the luck few... (1, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660314)

Great. So lets breed mosquitoes which aren't repelled by us lucky few. Wonderful.
That's evolutionary one-upmanship. It's how the game is played. Sorry that your relative advantage is going the way of the Dodo :)

Welcome to the puss-y inflamed itching-to-all-hell scabbed-over mosquito-bite reality that many of the rest of us have to endure.

Time to join the normals, I guess... Natural Mosquito Repelling is a pretty lame Super-power, anyway.

why not earlier? (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660225)

Random evolutionary question, are there any drawbacks from an evolutionary point of view to the "new design"? If not, that why didn't the variation predominate earlier? Just because the evolutionary drift didn't lean that way?

Re:why not earlier? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660373)

Lack of food?

Enhanced hunting capabilities often REQUIRES more energy to keep the organism alive, so if Athens wasn't such a fertile feeding ground they wouldn't have had the resources to get bigger/better.

But don't worry, pretty soon people will be complaining about the glut of birds feeding on the skeeters followed by the glut of cats eating the birds, followed by....

Re:why not earlier? (2, Insightful)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660440)

But don't worry, pretty soon people will be complaining about the glut of birds feeding on the skeeters followed by the glut of cats eating the birds, followed by....

And then the gorillas freeze to death?

Re:why not earlier? (1)

maubp (303462) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660435)

They are probably specialised for city life : high food (human) density, and potentially they are less tolerant to extremes in temperature (due to living in cities).

We could try "moving" some to other nice warm cities and see how the cope... Miami perhaps?

Could the converse be true? (5, Funny)

general scruff (938598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660228)

This speaks nothing to the possiblity that Athenians are getting smaller, slower, and smellier.

Re:Could the converse be true? (2, Funny)

Clopy (857418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660387)

Indeed, we are getting slower and smellier. But smaller? No way. We 've got McDonalds too. We're about to outfat you, you american piece of BigMac :)

Re:Could the converse be true? (2, Funny)

general scruff (938598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660475)

Thats Big-n'-Tasty to you!

Someone should shoot them... (0, Troll)

NIN1385 (760712) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660232)

These scientists should be drug into the streets and shot in the face to be made an example of. I have enough bites on me from the mosquitoes I have around here now. What could make this problem better, ooh I know let's make faster smarter mosquitoes. Someone give these assholes an award.

Re:Someone should shoot them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660286)

The scientists are not making new mosquitoes. the conditions are causing them to evolve.

Re:Someone should shoot them... (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660446)

No, I'm pretty sure they were "intelligent designed"....

Re:Someone should shoot them... (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660352)

so try a old tech solution. get a block of dry ice, throw it in a cooler and put the cooler in the back corner of your yard.

Voila 90% of the mosquitos go over there to die as a giant source of Co2 means lots of good things to eat to the little buggers.

My grandfather was doing this a decade ago.

Re:Someone should shoot them... (3, Informative)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660526)

so try a old tech solution. get a block of dry ice, throw it in a cooler and put the cooler in the back corner of your yard.

Or since this is Slashdot, maybe a more high-tech colution [scapest.com] .

Didn't they watch Jumanji? (0)

wiz31337 (154231) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660233)

Didn't these scientists ever watch Jumanji? [wikipedia.org] We do not need super mosquitos, the ones we already have will do.

Patents... (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660240)

The most potent repellent chemical were then isolated by strapping miniature electrodes to the antennae of female mosquitoes and checking their responses to specific compounds. Logan will not divulge the names of the chemicals until they are patented.

How in the world can a chemical that every human produces be patented? Isn't that prior art? Ridiculous. I could understand if it were some new compound they synthesized, but this is a nothing more than greed.

Dan East

Re:Patents... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660329)

I also picked this up- WTF?
Whatever happened to "for the good of common mankind"?
Must we PATENT everything for profit?

I'm starting to feel like Cyberpunk is no longer a game, and is reality ( or heading that way with corporate-run governments - why are we putting up with this?)

Re:Patents... (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660521)

I've heard that some places want to patent their unique species's DNA. That's sounds so sci-fi.

Re:Patents... (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660380)

How in the world can a chemical that every human produces be patented? Isn't that prior art?

Same way that Aspirin, Penicilin, Insulin and many other chemicals have been patented.

Re:Patents... (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660426)

I always thought they patented the process of producing the chemical not the chemical itself.

Re:Patents... (1)

Clazzy (958719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660414)

Perhaps they're trying to prove the existence of God? If they illegally patent a chemical made by God, He will come down on them like a pile of bricks and sue the crap out of them, thus proving that God exists!

Re:Patents... (4, Insightful)

oni (41625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660430)

He did the work to figure it out, he deserves the exclusive right FOR A LIMITED TIME to manufacture it. After that, it goes into the public domain.

Without that protection, his recipe would be a closely guarded secret and there is the possibility that his death, or a fire in the factory, or a hard drive crash, would result in the formula being lost. Then we all lose. That's the way things used to work, and that's why we can't make violins as good as Stradivarius, or swords out of damascus steel (or buildings out of it for that matter).

Patents do benefit mankind. It's not this guy's fault that politicians have perverted the system.

Re:Patents... (2, Insightful)

paulpach (798828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660457)

If noone is able to make a profit out of isolating this chemical, then wtf would they invest in it? The alternatives are simple: * Either you let people patent and make a profit out of a chemical that the human (or non human) body produces, or * Noone bothers isolating the chemical and no human ever benefits from such research. Note that many chemicals are produced by bacterias and mushroms and ppl have just isolated them, patented them and sold them in pills. Your prior art argument would also apply to these. Thanks to that research and attached profit, we are able to treat hundreds of illneses today. Reality is noone will invest millions of dollars "for the good of mankind".

Re:Patents... (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660512)

Is it not the specific application that will be patented? Would the patent merely prevent others from manufacturing repellant containing that particular compound? If so, the patent merely covers the novel usuage of an existing compound, rather than the existing compound itself. And that would be less repellant, no?

AHEM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660242)

Air pollution and cramped housing conditions in Athens, Greece, are creating a new breed of mosquitoes which are bigger, faster, and can smell humans from farther away.

Don't you mean:

"In all his mighty wisdom, God is creating a new breed of mosquitoes which are bigger, faster, and can smell humans from farther away, through his system of Intelligent Design. It is his plan."

The north of Canada (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660243)

I'm not sure how big they are exactly, but you should bring your baseball bat.

'Compares favorably' to DEET? (4, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660244)

Generally when somebody says their all-natural product 'compares favorably' to some chemical alternative, them mean that it works 'almost as well'. If it worked better, they'd be saying that it works better than DEET.

In my experience, DEET does absolutely nothing to repel biting insects from me. If this new stuff 'compares favorably' to DEET, I guess I have nothing to look forward to here.

It doesn't really have to work though... He just needs to put 'Organic' on the bottle, and people will buy it even if they have no clue what the hell is in there. They'll swear it works too.

Re:'Compares favorably' to DEET? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660506)

e just needs to put 'Organic' on the bottle, and people will buy it even if they have no clue what the hell is in there. They'll swear it works too.

Probably add some fruity fragnace to it. Like citronella, the favoured repellent of the New Agers. CITRONELLA DOES NOT WORK. As for this guy, notice he was doing tests to see which of two victims the mosquitoes preferred. What would happen if both had these mystery chemical in the same amount? Would they both be safe? I doubt it. He would have mentioned that if it actually repelled a hungry mosquito.

Three Magic Letters! (-1, Offtopic)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660250)

D [lewrockwell.com]
D [mises.org]
T [junkscience.com]

Too much junk science out there to acknowledge something that we should still be using, I guess.

Re:Three Magic Letters! (0, Flamebait)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660365)

I've read all that and do believe myself that DDT is the best anti-mosquito chemical out there. There was an interesting story on the BBC this morning related to DDT and it's affect on humans. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5145450.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Three Magic Letters! (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660415)

Thanks for the article -- I've seen similar ones, but that encompasses quite a bit of the facts that need to be addressed.

I believe that nearly _ALL_ chemicals can cause harm to fetuses. I don't think there is any "safe" product out there that can't harm or kill someone if used incorrectly. That being said, I also think that many items that cause harm can ALSO increase health based on its usage. Even cigarette smoking has a good amount of positives in clinical studies, especially in people with memory loss and age-related mental issues. This is why I am against the national governments telling people what to do and what not to do. DDT should be a community-selected issue. If you're dealing with massive mosquito-borne diseases, there is a CBA that should be performed to see if the benefits outweigh the costs.

The issue is a lot more complicated than either of us can debate in this forum, but I believe the issues must be brought back up, especially when it comes to governments that would rather see millions die over a few generations than a few thousand be slightly mentally hampered while in the womb. Long term studies on these mental problems also should be looked into by privately funded research companies and organizations -- I'd happily give a few hundred dollars for research. Yet we can't use DDT in much of the world, and I believe that is a bigger problem that was created by fiat and mandate than by research and reality.

Re:Three Magic Letters! (1)

berbo (671598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660436)

we don't need no steenking eagles!

Nobody has said it yet... (2, Funny)

thc69 (98798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660263)

...so I have to.

I, for one, welcome our new giant color-seeing long-distance mosquito overlords.

Obligatory (-1, Redundant)

mrbanzai (799285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660272)

I, for one, welcome our new super-mosquito overlords.

All environments breed "super" animals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660273)

I don't see articles saying that cramped conditions and the pollution of high heat and humidity in rain forests breed "super" bugs and plants that are highly dangerous and adapted to their environmental niches. It makes it sound like someone doesn't like cities. When cities and suburbs have been around as long as rain forests, evolution will provide adaptations and species differentiation that may rival the beauty and diversity of the rain forest.

Ken Lay, shyster extraordinaire, dead at 64. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660274)

It's true.

Note: I had to look up the spellings of two words in that headline.

Size? (2, Insightful)

KingEomer (795285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660280)

How much larger is a 3 microgram mosquito? I think a percentage would be slightly more informative, or at least the weight of a "normal" mosquito.

Re:Size? (oops) (1)

KingEomer (795285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660299)

Errr, I mean how much larger is x + 3 microgram mosquito. (I.e. what is x)

Re:Size? (oops) (1)

z0idberg (888892) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660421)

x is about between one 405millionths and one 324millionths of a VW beetle.

(where an average mozzie is 2.0 to 2.5 milligrams and a VW beetle is approx 810 Kgs - source wikipedia (except for the calculations which are mine so probably wrong)).

Re:Size? (oops) (2, Insightful)

KingEomer (795285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660453)

So that means that the mosquitoes are about 0.1% bigger than average... Wow. North Americans must be pretty dangerous, then, if 0.1% larger in weight makes one "Super"

Metres??? (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660281)

Correct me if I'm wrong (in which case, sorry), but I though mozzies could detect the increased CO2 concentration from suckable creatures in the air from something in the region of a mile away? At least, females can.
Okay, I could be wrong, but David Attenborough is like the voice of God to me, so I'll need some convincing.

Belize (1)

mcai8rw2 (923718) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660339)

When I was in Belize, not only were there Iguana running around peoples gardens like the common sparrow or blackbird but the mosquitoes were massive.
 
  I mean i'm talking an inch and a half long, socking great legs...absolutely massive.

Not that it matters.

Hopefully (1)

TemplesA (984100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660366)

Hopefully these Mosquitoes will turn on other Mosquitoes and drive them off, or kill them completely- why? Because the regular ones aren't bad enough, and the way the article describes these things sucking sounds like my SUV with the pedal to the floor, so bring 'em on, Raid 2.0 is ready.

What about the humans? (4, Funny)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660404)

That's got to be doing something to the humans as well. Might we be breeding people who need air pollution to live? If so, then cleaning up the environment could be like genocide!

winnipeg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660409)

Uhm .. we've had these in Winnipeg for decades ... this is hardly news.

Great,,, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660450)

And to think: all this time I've been getting bitten by inferior insects. Well, no more!

WHO THE HELL GREEN LIGHTS THESE PROJECTS?

Re:Great,,, (2, Informative)

Freiheit (237665) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660513)

If you'd read the article, they aren'te creating mosquito's, the mosquito's are evolving into different form that has better traits for surviving. It's not a research project or a planned thing. It's naturally happening.

Not Rocket Science (1)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660452)

The super insects have color vision and detect humans from 25-30 meters, which is about 50% farther than the ordinary mosquitoe. Beating their wing 500 times a second provides them with extra speed, and the larger bodies (by 0.3ug) presumably allow larger bloodsucking capacity.
Unfortunately the new Super Mosquito is "snub-nosed" and will not make a puncture wound. Rather, the Super Mosquito will land on a human and relentlessly force its entire head into the target over a period of 6-7 hours.

It's *preference* only (2, Interesting)

oni (41625) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660464)

From TFA: It's very exciting," Logan told New Scientist, "because these are totally natural chemicals with an effectiveness that compares favourably to harsher chemicals such as DEET

I seriously doubt that this will work as well as a repellant. All he did was figure out what flavor of human mosquitos like. Sure, if there are lots of humans around, they will go after the one they like, but in a pinch, they are still comming after you. It's like saying, we did research and found that oni prefers chocolate ice cream, so we are only selling vanilla - that wll keep him away.

No, actually it wont. If you're the only ice cream shop in town, I'll make do with vanilla. Similarly, if you're out walking alone in the woods, the mosquitoes are going to bite you even if you don't taste just the way they like.

This discovery is still good for when you are in a group of people - unless everyone in the group makes use of it, then you're back where you started.

Yearly 15 minutes of fame. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660465)

I say Athens runs with this and jumps on the declining popularity of the event in Spain and creates the annual "Running With the Mosquitos" celebration, in honor of the Greek god Hera. Winner gets a lifetime supply of V8.

I for one... (2, Funny)

David Munch (939296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660493)

Welcome our new greek killing, buzzing overlords!

Let's start a discussion on patents (1)

beaverfever (584714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660496)

From the New Scientist article:

The most potent repellent chemical were then isolated by strapping miniature electrodes to the antennae of female mosquitoes and checking their responses to specific compounds. Logan will not divulge the names of the chemicals until they are patented. ...
"It's very exciting," Logan told New Scientist, "because these are totally natural chemicals"

So, what is the status of the situation which allows companies to patent naturally occurring phenomena, such as DNA and now a scent which comes from a chemical naturally produced by the human body?

Or, we could just use DDT and there's no problem. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15660498)

Bring back DDT and mosquitos go away. So do upwards of 2 million malaria deaths per year, a totally preventable third-world genocide caused entirely by that evil idiot Rachel Carson and perpetuated by environmentalist morons.

What Mosquitoes like and hate? (4, Funny)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15660530)

And in a similar vein (har har) New Scientist had a piece about what mosquitoes like or hate about people.

Hell, I can tell you that without reading the article.

Mosquitoes like:
-that humans have blood

Mosquitoes hate:
-that humans squash them

There you go.
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