Even California has a mosquito problem

When I moved to Los Angeles years ago, native friends of Angeleno told me that the moisture-free city certainly doesn’t have mosquitoes....


When I moved to Los Angeles years ago, native friends of Angeleno told me that the moisture-free city certainly doesn’t have mosquitoes.

What is that whistle then? The welts on my ankles? My favorite cafe started selling bug spray bottles next to the cash register. Were my friends wrong or should we recognize that this winged plague is part of life in the Golden State?

Since 2011, scientists have tracked an invasive mosquito species in parts of California: Aedes aegypti. These black and white striped ‘ankle bites’, which can transmit dengue, Zika virus and yellow fever, have been found up and down state.

Alec Gerry, professor of entomology at the University of California at Riverside, said it wasn’t necessarily that the mosquito population had increased in size, but rather that the habits of this invasive species were much more visible.

The native Culex mosquito tends to emerge at night, preferring to feed on birds, but non-native mosquitoes have adapted extremely well to life here. They chase blood during daylight hours when people are most active, often going unnoticed after biting below the waist. This particular species also has the annoying habit of nibbling, that is, aggressively biting a host several times during the same meal. By laying eggs just above the water’s surface, Aedes aegypti can breed in a bottle cap or in the finger holes of a bowling ball. Eggs can remain dormant after drying for up to a year, hatching once they come in contact with water again.

Levy Sun, communications director for the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, told me that longer periods of hot weather and man-made environments characterized by lush tropical vegetation are contributing to the proliferation of this species. Mosquitoes find it difficult to regulate their body temperature, so they often seek relief from the heat in shady yards. If you notice an increase in the number of bites, it is probably because they have settled nearby.

Mosquito infestations come and go depending on your hospitality. “They’re pounding the neighborhoods in waves,” Sun said.

Controlling the mosquito population is extremely tricky, but eliminating all sources of standing water is a good place to start. Use bug spray if you don’t want to get bitten. Call your local vector control office if you need help finding potential breeding sites. Some counties will send fish that eat mosquito larvae.

California has had native mosquitoes dating back to the days of the Gold Rush, when malaria devastated populations and needed to be eradicated by aggressive mosquito control programs. Non-native mosquito species have been gradually introduced into the state through global trade; in 2001, health officials linked an outbreak of Aedes albopictus in southern California to a shipment of lucky bamboo from Taiwan.

The preponderance of these pests is expected to decline by the end of October, when colder nighttime temperatures affect their life cycle until they reappear in May. However, it seems likely that the Aedes aegypti will continue to be a bane on our summers.

Sun, who zaps mosquitoes in his house with an electric racket, said if efforts were to be made to control the population, total eradication was not very likely at this point.

“They survived the dinosaurs and have lived until now,” he said.


My colleagues Ryan Mac and Sheera Frenkel have written about Facebook’s efforts to defend its public image through a corporate initiative called Project Amplify. His goal: to use Facebook’s news feed to show people positive stories on the social network. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who meddled in the 2020 election, also wanted to redefine himself as an innovator, according to the article.

Read the full story here.

  • Forest fire emissions: This summer, the fires in California emitted twice as much carbon dioxide as in the same period last year, and far more than any other summer in almost two decades.

  • Disaster relief: Washington Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a nearly $ 30 billion disaster relief program that could help California communities affected by wildfires and drought. But the bill depends on efforts to raise a federal borrowing limit, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

SOUTH CALIFORNIA

  • Cal Fire training: In the past 18 months, nearly four dozen firefighters have suffered from heat-related illnesses while training for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, LAist found.

  • Student loan scam: An Orange County woman is accused of operating a call center network billed as student loan debt relief, scamming 19,000 people out of more than $ 6 million, according to the Associated Press.

  • Water conservation: Despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s calls to conserve water, new data shows residents of Los Angeles and San Diego actually increased their water use in July, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Cargo queue: Sixty-five freighters are outside the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, which handle 40% of all containers entering the country, according to BBC News.

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

  • Giant forest: Although the KNP complex fire has been burning near the giant forest for nearly two weeks, firefighting teams have kept the redwoods unharmed, Associated Press reports.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

  • State of San José: The university agreed to pay $ 1.6 million to students who were inappropriately touched by a sports coach and whose complaints were handled badly.

  • Haitian community: This summer’s worsening crises in Haiti have taken their toll, with many in the Bay Area Haitian community worrying for their families, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • Housing action: The Mayor of Oakland has pledged to house 1,500 homeless people and build 132 permanent affordable housing units as part of a federal initiative, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.


Try this slow cooker white bean parmesan Soupe.


Today’s travel tip comes from Brandi Katz, a reader who lives in Aromas. Brandi recommends Tomales Point Trail in Point Reyes National Waterfront:

“In late spring and early summer, when the native lupine and Douglas iris are in full glory, you might feel like Dorothy in the poppy fields, surrounded by yellow and purple flowers scented by all. sides and as far as the eye can see, but this trail enchants at any time of the year.

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in future editions of the newsletter.


For seven years, the Bay Area Artist Lynell Jinks transformed the drab paper lunch bags her children brought to school into works of art depicting portraits of actors, musicians and historical icons. Each bag was returned after fulfilling its function and carefully preserved in a collection that ultimately numbered over 800 works.

The bags, which have won praise from President Barack Obama, are now featured in a new book, “School Lunch: Unpacking Our Shared Stories” by Lucy Schaeffer.

Jinks told The Mercury News that he decorated the bags to share his love of art with his children. “I want them to look back on their childhood and remember what we did together,” he said.


Thanks for reading. We’ll be back to your inbox tomorrow.

PS here today’s mini-crosswords, and a hint: ___ of Terror, go up to Disney’s Hollywood studios (5 letters).

Mariel Wamsley and Soumya Karlamangla contributed to California Today. You can join the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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