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In aftermath of Hurricane Laura, thick mosquito swarms kill hundreds of Louisiana cattle

In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, massive swarms of mosquitos have killed huge numbers of cows, as well as deer and other livestock in the region..

Elias Marat

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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.

Animals

As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists

Elias Marat

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The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.

However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.

While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.

The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.

The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes –  but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.

“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.

To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.

However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.

These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.

The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.

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Animals

Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever

Elias Marat

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Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.

Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.

In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.

At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.

“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.

“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”

The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.

Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.

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Animals

‘Horrific’ Swarms of Spiders, Snakes Invade Australian Homes Amid Devastating Floods

Elias Marat

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In recent years, Australia’s most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) has faced everything from drought to brushfires, a pandemic, a recent all-consuming plague of mice and now, devastating floods and massive hordes of spiders.

In videos shared across social media, hundreds if not thousands of spiders can be seen scrambling through people’s homes and garages prior to an evacuation order being issued on early Saturday in expectation of the floods.

In one video posted to Facebook by Melanie Williams, the arachnids of all sizes can be seen scrambling about in search of shelter from the coming deluge.

“Check these spiders out, oh my god, oh my god! Look at them all,” Williams said in the video. “No! No! Oh my god.”

The Guardian reports that Kinchela resident Matt Lovenfosse was pulling up to his home on Monday morning when he witnessed what appeared to be a sea of “millions” of spiders climbing about to escape the floodwaters.

“So I went out to have a look and it was millions of spiders,” Lovenfosse said.

“It’s amazing. It’s crazy,” he continued. “The spiders all crawled up on to the house, on to fences and whatever they can get on to.”

The flooding has resulted in some 18,000 residents fleeing their homes since last week, with authorities warning that the cleanup could last until April.

The floods have also seen thousands of snakes and insects of every kind scrambling to flee from the floods, with some snakes even leaping into rescue boats to avoid being drowned.

“There were also skinks, ants, basically every insect, crickets – all just trying to get away from the flood waters,” vistor Shenae Varley told Guardian Australia.

It’s just the latest reminder that Australia isn’t just another country – it may be its own entirely different world.

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