[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Mosquitoes have an unwitting new ally in the war on infectious diseases—conservationists. Turns out that, for mosquitoes carrying dengue-fever, environmentally conscious humans may be aiding the invasion. That’s the finding of a study published in the journal Functional Ecology.
In Australia, severe drought has led citizens to capture and store rainwater. While that's good for water conservation, the resulting array of water-storage tanks provides the perfect breeding ground for an army of mosquitoes.
The researchers say mosquitoes around the world are already moving into areas experiencing the warmer, wetter effects of climate change. Adding accessible pools of water to countless backyards will only help increase the insect's range.
For Australia's dengue mosquitoes, the researchers are also concerned about the development of drought-resistant eggs. Other insects have already evolved eggs that can withstand dry-spells. If the dengue mosquito follows suit, even the arid Outback could someday promote mosquito-borne illness. But there's a powerful way to interfere with the entire process: simply cover up water containers.