Mosquitoes are wreaking havoc throughout the Taitung area. There is not any natural enemy to fight the vermin and a successful strategy for preventing mosquitoes has yet to be found. Health and environmental agencies are urging individuals to take the necessary precautions in protecting themselves, saying that by getting rid of moss, the primary breeding grounds for mosquitoes, you can keep mosquito larvae from spreading.
“It’s terrible. Getting bitten is really painful. My lower leg is completely covered with inflamed red bites,” says a local resident named Yu Li-min. Every afternoon when she goes outside to clean and sweep the area around her house, in just half an hour she has bites all over her body, particularly her lower leg. Spraying mosquito repellent does not help, either, so she simply stays indoors.
The Taitung City Office has sent personnel out to exterminate extensively, which has proven ineffective. The forcipomyia taiwana, a biting midge native to Taiwan, is an ecological problem, not a health problem, according to the local government, which says that without a natural enemy, the best preventative method is taking away the food source of both the larvae and the pupae. Spraying pesticides or disinfectant only works to control the problem without solving it, and could possibly result in the insect building up a resistance. The government urges people to keep their surroundings clean and protect themselves by wearing long-sleeve shirts, pants, socks and shoes, and avoid staying under shady trees, in halls, pavilions or arcades during peak times when mosquitoes are out feeding.
Taitung Public Health Bureau Director Daniel Lu says that the Taiwanese mosquito is different from other mosquitoes. Although it does consume blood, there is currently no medical record of it spreading malaria, dengue fever or any other viruses. The larvae of forcipomyia taiwana mainly subsist on moss, so getting rid of moss can keep them from gestating and reproducing and reduce their numbers. The female biting midge usually goes out to feed between noon and dusk, and typically flies low to the ground, biting people’s lower leg, the back of the arm and elbows. Some people experience itching and inflammation after being bitten, while allergic reactions occur in severe cases.
Lu would like to remind people not to scratch the bites after being bitten so as to avoid breaking the skin and it becoming infected. You can apply mosquito repellant, green oil or mint oil ointments to stop the itching, or use medicine approved by your physician, he says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)