Quirky pest: 6 things to know about the difficult fight against the Zika-spreading mosquito

Classic methods of protection from bloodsucking mosquitos are proving less effective in the fight against the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito. The formerly eliminated pest known as the "yellow fever mosquito" has made a big comeback, and it's unknown if eradication is even a possibility this time around, according to Science News.

Here are 6 things to know about the Ae. aegypti mosquito and the current fight against it, according to Science News:

1. A decline in political will: In the 1930s, the Zika-carrying mosquito was the subject of aggressive extermination efforts. By 1965, it was considered eradicated in Brazil and 17 other countries, though not the U.S. As the threat from the mosquito decreased, so did the political will and fiscal investment to remain steadfast in mosquito protection.

2. Bloodthirst: For many mosquitoes, bloodsucking is linked to motherhood; the common equation is one drink per batch of eggs. The Zika mosquito is different. Where other mosquitos may rely on plant sugars for energy, the Ae. Aegypti is uncommonly apt at producing energy from blood, leading to more blood sipping.

3. House mosquito: Classic mosquito protection and eradication techniques don't do much in the fight against Zika. Potential resistance to certain pesticides have been reported. And even if they weren't resistant, the large spraying technique by aircraft or truck isn't very effective in the eradication of the pest. The type of Ae. aegypti mosquito that has spread to the Western Hemisphere is domesticated. It likes to live in the home, hiding in clothing, closets and under beds. The mosquito is also perfectly happy feeding during the day, so the nighttime bed nets are less-effective against this particular breed.

4. Door-to-door: One of the more low-tech fighting tactics involves crews trying to kill mosquito larvae before they mature to vampire age. The larvae need water to develop, so these mosquito hunters go house-to-house searching for small pools of water. The pools could be in a myriad of places as benign as a bucket in the yard or a discarded empty bag of chips, highlighting the tedium of hand-to-hand human-mosquito combat.

5. Genetic modification: One hope for eradication that has shown some success comes from Oxitec LLC, a subsidiary of the Intrexon Corporation, that have genetically engineered male mosquitos to make their offspring die. Also, advances in techniques to cut and paste genes may facilitate the release of sterilized male mosquitos into the population.

6. Choices: If biologists develop some surefire way to eradicate certain breeds of bloodsucking mosquitos that collectively lead to 400,000 deaths a year, consideration would have to be given to the ecosystem due to its sensitivity to species extinction. The choice would have to be made on a case-by-case basis. In regards to the home-invading Ae. aegypti, that choice may be easy because of its newcomer status in the Americas. It would likely not be missed.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Zika, HPV, flu: 5 recent stories on vaccines  
Researchers estimate potential Zika virus risk in 50 US cities: 5 findings  
Despite Zika's rise in Florida, physicians say threat is minor 

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