In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, massive swarms of mosquitos have laid waste to Louisiana, killing huge numbers of cows, as well as deer, horses and other livestock in the region.
Two weeks after Hurricane Laura brought torrential rains to the southwest part of the state, thousands of mosquitos have set upon animals as large as bulls, draining their blood and leaving them anemic and bleeding. Livestock annoyed by the mosquitos have also been forced to pace around during the hot and moist summer in an attempt to avoid the insect.
The hordes of mosquitos pushed out of their marshy habitats by Hurricane Laura have been nothing less than a menace for local livestock, according to a Louisiana State University AgCenter press release.
“The population just exploded in the southwest part of the state,” said LSU AgCenter agent Jeremy Hebert.
The problem has led to the widespread loss of cattle and even some horses across the five parishes neighboring the most severely impacted part of the state where the storm made landfall in late August.
Experts estimate that anywhere between 300 and 400 cattle have been lost by local ranchers.
“They’re vicious little suckers,” veterinarian Craig Fontenot of Ville Platte told Associated Press while showing a photo he took of a bull’s belly completely covered by the mosquitoes.
Cattle are generally out grazing in 50- or 100-acre pastures, unlike horses and goats who generally remain in stalls that can easily be sprayed with insecticide.
The swarms are not only draining the blood from livestock, but also forcing them to be in constant motion to keep the mosquitoes away, leaving them exhausted to the point that they pass out.
One deer rancher even lost roughly 30 of his 110 animals, a portion of which had already been sold, Fontenot added.
“He’s saying its over $100,000 he lost,” the veterinarian said.
In order to combat the thick clouds of mosquitos, a number of parishes have begun aerial spraying of the region. The spraying has already had a good degree of success in thinning out the hordes, according to agents from the LSU AgCenter.
“The spraying has dropped the populations tremendously,” said Acadia Parish agent Jeremy Hebert said. “It’s made a night-and-day difference.”
The insect continue to plague Calcasieu and Jefferson Davis Parishes, but the widespread spraying is reducing the acute nature of the problem.
Hurricane Laura was the strongest hurricane in terms of wind speed in the state since at least 1856. Since the storm made landfall, over 280,000 local residents lack access to clean drinking water while 14,476 lack running water altogether.
As of Friday, about 105,475 residents remained without power amid heat advisories, according to poweroutage.us.
The storm has also been an ecological calamity for the region, as over 1,400 oil wells were lying directly in the hurricane’s path. One photographer taking aerial shots of the wetlands spotted roughly 20 miles of oil sheen stretching across coastal marshes and bayous.
And while livestock deaths from mosquitoes may seem like a very 2020 phenomenon, past storms have entailed similar events – namely Hurricane Lili in 2002 and Hurricane Rita in 2005. Similar problems have also occurred in hurricane-prone Florida and Texas, Fontenot noted.