Viridian Note 00251: Houston MosquitoesBruce Sterling [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Center for Disease Control's Mosquito-Borne Diseases! http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/list_mosquitoborne.htm
Texas Department of Health on the West Nile Virus! (A new potential health threat to Houstonians, who are already exposed to St Louis Encephalitis and dengue virus.) http://www.tdh.state.tx.us/news/ac072100.htm
Entries in the Viridian Hot Rod Contest:
http://www.digitalanything.com/LightRod.html http://www.revjack.net/usenet/ark/gallery/981655811.html http://www.ulster.net/~alamut/spud/spudracer.html http://www.powerbase-alpha.com/bigmike/hotrod.html>From email@example.com* (Alex Schroeder):
This contest ends July 5, 02001.
"In Hazy, Humid Houston, the Mosquitoes Are Winning Big.
By JIM YARDLEY
"HOUSTON, June 21 == Clarence Watkins, a head lineman for
Reliant Energy, the local utility, considers himself at
"He works in the afternoon and evening == what might
be described as mosquito prime time in this city still
recovering from huge rains and flooding == and defends
himself with a style of slapping and leg-kicking akin to
Irish line dancing.
"'I've got a long-sleeve shirt and two good slapping arms,' said Mr. Watkins, 37. 'It's like 300 of them and one of you. It's like fighting a small army. You can hear them. You know they are coming.' (((The Viridian aspect? They're eating this guy because he repairs storm-damaged power lines for a fossil-fueled energy company.)))
"First came the rains. Now the mosquitoes.
"They are everywhere, a swarm of science-fiction-like
proportions (((hello!))) spawned by the torrential rains
and flooding here wrought earlier this month by Tropical
Storm Allison. The flooding caused an estimated $4.88
billion in local property damage (((Hear that? $4.88 big
ones. Whoa.))) that may take months or longer to
repair. It has also raised long-range questions about
whether this city encircled by bayous must rethink its
readiness for huge amounts of rainfall. (((It's almost
too good: "Moats and Dikes Surround Fossil Fuel Capital
Of The World.")))
"But, really, the main topic of conversation is
mosquitoes. There are about 3.1 million people in Houston
and surrounding Harris County. Officials say hundreds of
millions of mosquitoes may have taken flight since the
"In this, one of the nation's most hermetically
sealed cities, no place is completely mosquito-free: They
have been spotted in the air-conditioned pedestrian
tunnels that run beneath downtown and inside the city's
"'I work on the 27th floor, and I don't know how a
mosquito got up there,' said Roland Esparza, 42, who was
bitten twice inside his office. (..)
"Bugs are not exactly a new phenomenon to Houston.
Heat, humidity and rainfall == mother's milk to much of
the insect world == are found in abundance here. The
cockroaches are big enough to frighten small children.
Hardware stores stock pesticides the way drug stores stock
aspirin. The world's first indoor stadium, the Astrodome,
was built as a refuge from the heat and mosquitoes of the
city's summers. The area's most powerful politician,
Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority whip, began
his career as an exterminator.
"In all, 55 species of mosquitoes call Houston home,
and even under normal conditions man often wages a losing
battle against them. But this outbreak is the worst in
memory, said Dr. Ray Parsons, head of Harris County
"To measure the problem, the control board dispatched
inspectors and 'surveillance specialists' to stand like
scarecrows beneath trees and wait for 60 seconds. Then,
each inspector and specialist counted the number of
mosquitoes that landed on their body.
"Anything more than 25 landings every 60 seconds is
considered bad; some inspectors reported rates exceeding
100 landings a minute. (...)
"If there is good news, it is that no cases of
disease have been reported, as happened in New York last
year when mosquitoes carried the West Nile Virus.
"Still, Houston officials declared the mosquitoes a health hazard this week based on their sheer numbers, and after complaints from hospitals at the sprawling Texas Medical Center, about three miles from downtown. Many of the hospitals suffered basement flooding and power outages and had to open their windows to dry out or catch a breeze. The mosquitoes flew right in." (((Nice tight feedback loop there.)))
"Allison's price tag tops $4.88 billion
"The price tag on Tropical Storm Allison's damage in
Harris County is estimated at $4.88 billion, county
officials said Tuesday. (((That's Texas alone.)))
"With an estimated repair bill of nearly $2 billion,
the Texas Medical Center suffered the greatest loss, said
Jim Robinson, chief appraiser for the Harris County
Appraisal District. The Medical Center == the world's
largest health-care complex, with about 40 institutions ==
accounted for most of the total estimated damage of $2.04
billion at the county's public facilities, including
"Residential properties, including apartments,
sustained about $1.76 billion damage, according to
estimates made by the appraisal district and Harris County
Emergency Management, Robinson said.
"Estimated damage to the county's businesses is $1.08
"An estimated 2,744 homes and 696 mobile homes were
"Homes with major damage were numbered at 9,492, plus one mobile home. In all, 43,269 Harris County residences suffered some damage." (((Hope they didn't lose their mosquito screens.)))
"Allison puts imprint on North Carolina
"The remnants of Tropical Storm Allison dumped rain on
North Carolina on Thursday(...) Flash flood warnings were
posted Thursday for eastern North Carolina, where
forecasters were predicting as much as 6 inches of rain in
"Rain fell fast, about 2 inches in less than an hour
Wednesday, and power outages affected more than 6,000
homes in the area around Salisbury, about 40 miles north
of Charlotte. (...) Allison, the Atlantic's first
tropical storm of 2001, is blamed for killing 22 people in
Texas last week as it stalled after coming ashore, dumping
nearly 3 feet of rain on some areas. Nine people died in
Florida, including five who drowned in choppy water
stirred up off the Florida Panhandle.
"On Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes declared a state of emergency for 14 eastern Georgia counties left awash in 8 inches of rain that fell Tuesday. The storm system also brought heavy rain to South Carolina on Tuesday and Wednesday, but not enough to end a statewide drought."
"Last traces of Allison inundate parts of New England
"BOSTON == The last traces of Tropical Storm Allison
swept through New England, dropping up to 7 inches of
rain, flooding roads and knocking out electricity.
"Meanwhile, authorities said two bodies were found
Monday in a Pennsylvania apartment complex devastated by
flooding and a storm-related fire, bringing Allison's
death toll to 47.
"Flooding created problems for drivers on just about
all of Massachusetts' major highways (...)
"'I woke up, and I had two swimming pools in my back
yard, one that has a lot of chemicals and one that has a
lot of mud,' Dennis Garafolo of South Windsor, Conn., told
WFSB-TV of Hartford. (((What a wonderfully Greenhouse
thing to say.)))
"As the storm moved up the Eastern Seaboard, parts of
New Jersey received more than 5 1/2 inches of rain, while
7.2 inches of rainfall were recorded in Pomfret, Conn.,
and nearly 5 inches fell in Wellesley, Mass., officials
"'This was not an easy storm to forecast,' said
meteorologist Neal Strauss of the National Weather Service
in Taunton. (((Uh, yeah.)))
(...) "In Pennsylvania, which received more than 10
inches of rain over the weekend, six deaths were linked to
the storm. Firefighters on Saturday rescued about 30
residents from the flooded Village Green apartments in
Hatboro, 16 miles north of Philadelphia. (...) A
natural-gas explosion and fire struck one building in the
complex, and the rising waters prevented firefighters from
battling the flames. Four bodies were found in that
building Sunday and two on Monday, authorities said.
"'We think that everything was caused by the flood
initially,' said Upper Moreland Police Chief William
Moffett. 'It appears that the water damage caused a gas
leak somewhere, which caused the fire. And the deaths
apparently were fire deaths.'" (((This is a classic,
pocket-sized Wexelblat disaster: they were flooded out by
storms while being roasted by fossil fuels.)))
"Allison made landfall in Texas on June 6 and quickly weakened. But rainfall totals soared as it lingered, first over Texas and Louisiana, forcing thousands from their homes and causing at least 22 deaths in the two states. As it crept eastward along the Gulf Coast and up the East Coast, nine deaths in Florida and seven traffic deaths in North Carolina were attributed to the storm. A tree toppled in waterlogged ground, killing a woman in Virginia Beach, Va., on Saturday, officials said."
(((Meanwhile, back at the buzzing, whining front lines:)))
"Mosquito-fog trucks greeted with hurrah by itchy residents By ERIC HANSON and CINDY HORSWELL
(...) "'It's incredible. People are actually coming out in their yards and clapping as I drive by,' said Gary Gillen, whose Gillen Pest Control provides fogging service to Richmond, Sugar Land and other area towns. 'When I stop at a stop sign, they yell "thank you."'
(...) "Chambers County Clerk Beanie Rowland, who lives in
Wallisville, said, 'I have to fog outside my door or else
they'll eat my dogs alive.'
(...) Precinct 4 Commissioner Ed Rinehart and
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador said crews are
spraying daily from the roadways, but the pests are
hatching in unreachable, flooded forests. (((Can't
spray; too much rain.)))
(...) "In Chambers County's salty marshes,
inspectors counted up to 200 mosquito landings per minute
== sometimes recorded as 'too numerous to count.'
"Kay Ray, a secretary at mosquito control, said some callers have 'cussed and screamed and acted like we're raising the mosquitoes to put out in their yard.' (((Call Exxon-Mobil, folks.)))
"Mosquitoes bugging Medical Center
Officials say pests are a health hazard
By KATHRYN A. WOLFE, Houston Chronicle
"After suffering severe property damage from flooding,
the Texas Medical Center is now under attack by so many
mosquitoes that the city is expected to declare the pests
a health hazard and approve an emergency infusion of cash
to get rid of them. (...)
"The action was prompted mostly by Medical Center
officials' complaints about the mosquitoes that have
invaded hospitals and impeded construction work.
"Dr. Ralph Feigin, president of Baylor College of
Medicine and an infectious diseases specialist, said no
mosquitoes have been identified as carrying the deadly St.
Louis encephalitis, but the sheer number of mosquitoes
creates a health hazard.
"Any mosquito that comes into contact with sewage-
drenched floodwaters can infect humans with several
diseases, he said. (((That's rather interesting:
mosquito-borne diseases direct from flood-burst sewers.)))
(...) Feigin said mosquitoes are swarming inside hospitals that have opened their doors and windows to air out flooded areas. (((Flying, contaminated sewage mosquitos right in your hospital bed!)))
(((Where's the emergency relief money? Surprise! Thanks to Allison, the USA ran out of it!)))
"Senators reinstate FEMA funding By KAREN MASTERSON, Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau
"WASHINGTON == The Senate moved quickly Thursday to
restore $389 million the House had cut a day earlier from
the disaster relief fund Texans are using to recover from
Tropical Storm Allison.
"Senate appropriators from both parties said the cost
of the storm in Texas alone would drain the nation's
natural-disaster account. (...)
"The Senate's action stood in stark contrast to that
of the House == where flood-relief funding became a
political football in a partisan game that pit Houston-
area Democrats, who opposed cutting the disaster money,
against Republicans, who said Congress could restore the
money later. (((Perhaps they can save money by re-using
the partisan Kyoto football as the partisan Disaster
"In the ornate appropriations meeting room ==
decorated with sparkling chandeliers and frescoes from
floor to ceiling == senators talked of Houston's
devastation and mosquito infestation 1,400 miles away.
(((You've got to love this sensitive touch of Beltway
(...) The panel agreed that FEMA's budget is in
trouble. 'We think Allison could take every single
nickel out of FEMA, and yet we're at the beginning of our
hurricane season,' said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland
(((And then there's the final Texan fillip: Argentine fire ants.)))
"Most fire ants survive flood with vengeance
"Floodwaters do not drown significant numbers of fire
ants. Instead the colonies form a ball or ribbon, float,
and flow with the water until they find land. As
floodwaters recede, these floating colonies will get onto
anything that they contact.
"This means that piles of debris or items from
flooded homes are extremely inviting to fire ants. At this
time, a general treatment for controlling the fire ants is
out of the question. Each colony has to be dealt with on a
"If you spot fire ants, follow these tips:
"Be cautious. Be aware that fire ants will be under
almost anything. When you pick up debris, pay attention to
what is on or in it == especially if the debris has been
sitting in one place for two to three days. Fire ants love
to get under furniture, carpet strips, old wood, and re-
establish their colonies.
"Protect yourself. Wear gloves, longsleeve shirts,
long pants, socks and shoes. Spray insect repellent onto
your shoes and lower pants leg. If you are using shovels
or other tools, spread talcum powder on the handle. Fire
ants cannot climb onto the powder-coated surface. (...)
"Treat a fire ant sting like a puncture wound. Use a good antibiotic cream to help prevent secondary infections. The fire ant venom is very complex, and many people may be allergic to it. After you are stung, if you notice a shortness of breath, unusual swelling of the sting area, or feel nauseous, see a doctor.
O=c=O O-=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
OKAY BOSS, I'M ALL NETTING, TALCUM
AND MEAT TENDERIZER; NOW WHAT?
O=c=O O-=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O