5 Supervillain Tactics Science Is Using to Kill Mosquitoes
What is the deadliest animal in the world? Lions? Sharks? Bears? Bees? Snakes? Rats? It was bears, wasn't it? Is it bears?
No, it's the lowly mosquito, and it's not even close. Thanks to their ability to spread diseases like malaria they take out a mind-boggling two million people a year.
Mankind's desire to stop the little murderous bastards has reached the point of desperation, and our schemes for fighting them have strayed into Mad Scientist Bond Supervillain territory. We're not exaggerating here. Mankind's plans for conquering the world of mosquitoes includes...
You have to start here. Giant lasers have been essential to at least three different Bond villain schemes, so scientists know that if humanity is to be the ultimate nemesis to the mosquito, we need a goddamned death ray. The development of mosquito-destroying lasers was thus an inevitability.
And just in case you think we're stretching the definition of "death ray" here, let's jump right to video of actual mosquitoes being actually set on fire in mid-air:
The scientists who developed the mosquito-killing laser were also on the team who created Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, the centerpiece of which would have been satellite-mounted lasers designed to blow nuclear missiles out of the sky before they could land on American cities. That plan was scrapped years ago, but if you take that tracking and kill-beam technology and shrink it down, you wind up with a hell of a mosquito net.
Though it would be pretty damn cool to just do it from space.
The targeting system is even able to tell harmless male mosquitoes apart from the disease-carrying females (from the sound of their wing beats). Or you can set the laser to, as one researcher put it, "just slay them all."
The lasers could some day be set up to form a barrier around a house or village, like huge, highly-advanced bug zapping force fields. They could even be attached to automated drone aircraft. Hell, for that matter, why automate it? Hook the drone cameras up to XBox Live and let players dispatch mosquitoes for Achievement points. Why not? The project is, after all, funded by Bill Gates as part of his ongoing crusade against the mosquito menace. That's right, we even have an evil billionaire on our side. You mosquitoes thought we weren't serious about this supervillain shit?
Your move, bitches.
Using a Sexy Double Agent to Seduce Them
As every Bond villain knows, sometimes the subtle methods are better. Perhaps a beautiful but deadly assassin, charming him into bed? With deadly genitalia?
As we just pointed out, in mosquito world the dangerous ones are the females (males don't drink blood, and thus don't transmit diseases) so when it comes time to seduce them to their doom, we need a bunch of sexy mosquito males working for us. That's why scientists have created their own genetically modified male mosquitoes, all with super-powered immune systems and a highly shortened life span. They'll buzz around and lure the females into bed, and pass on their DNA to their offspring. The result is we will have altered an entire species of insect to be less threatening to mankind.
We tried altering the females but they grew powerful enough to eat concrete.
Meanwhile, other scientists are studying mosquito mating rituals to one day design the most irresistible mosquito sex clones possible.
Yes, mosquitoes have mating rituals. For an insect that's such an asshole, their courtships play out surprisingly similar to a Disney film -- a lonely young female mosquito buzzes or "sings," probably about how she wishes she could live a life without the influence of her evil stepmother, when a nearby male mosquito happens to hear. He then joins in and it becomes a duet. The lovin' takes place after the harmony reaches a note almost an octave and a half above A (in concert pitch).
So researchers are trying to generate those sounds electronically, figuring out what sound makes female mosquitoes the horniest. That could let us breed deadly males that can seduce any female in the vicinity, their looks ravishing, their siren song irresistible. We will have created a diabolical eugenics plan that is literally too sexy to be stopped.
What's this? Unleashing a horrible disease to combat something that is a threat solely because it spreads horrible diseases? Ahhh, a plan that could only result from the perfect mix of irony, hatred and insanity that is the staple diet of any self-respecting mad-scientist and/or villain. It's hard not to imagine the origins of this plan went somewhere along the lines of someone standing atop a decrepit rain drenched roof, just after finding out about malaria, raises his arms raised screaming at the night sky: " A DISEASE!? I'LL SHOW 'EM A FUCKING DISEASE!"
"You have induced my shirtless rage one too many times, mosquitoes!"
Our weapon is a very nasty parasite called Wolbachia, which affects everything from insects to birds to microscopic worms. In insects it transmits itself via females, and if it winds up in a male host it can actually convert it into a female. How's it going to be spread? See the last entry -- scientists are planning to use it as a sexually transmitted plague for mosquitoes.
Let's just hope they don't have a foot fetish.
In the lab, scientists have even found a strain of the bacteria that doesn't harm the mosquito until it tries to feast on human blood. Once blood mixes with the bacteria, the mosquito drops dead. This serves two purposes: one, it prevents the mosquito from transmitting blood-borne diseases from one human to the next (since it dies before it can reach the next victim), and it sends a clear message to all the other mosquitoes: You touch a human, and you die.
Though, admittedly, some humans already possess that trait.
Humans were using chemicals to wipe out bug populations long before billionaire Hugo Drax came up with the idea using chemical weapons to take over the world in Moonraker. But clouds of smelly chemicals that kill bugs on contact are both far too crude for true supervillainy, and have the nasty habit of killing things other than bugs (see: the whole DDT controversy). No, this calls for a much more devious approach: a chemical that messes with their tiny little bug minds.
This one has been altered to dance feverishly until death.
Mosquitoes find their human prey via their sense of smell, and as such their sniffers are extra sensitive to the CO2 humans exhale. "Great!" you say to yourself. "We can come up with some chemical that dampens their sense of smell!" No. that would be too simple. Scientists have instead come up with chemicals can do everything from luring mosquitoes to a spot that smells like a human, to convincing the mosquito he's surrounded by delicious humans at every moment until he goes insane and drops dead.
Specifically, surrounded by a herd of Katt Williams.
The downside is it's not clear if those chemicals, if used in amounts sufficient enough to devastate a mosquito population, would be safe for humans to breathe. OK, so what we need is a chemical that is deadly to mosquitoes, but completely harmless to humans even if we were to drink the stuff straight. Enter nootkatone. It's made from grapefruit. You've had it if you've drank a can of Squirt.
"Squirt. Because fuck mosquitoes."
But the effect on mosquitoes is downright hilarious. It seeps into their tiny mosquito brains, making them so hyperactive they literally vibrate themselves to death. Really, it's the next best thing to mind control.
Though, why not just go for the real thing?
Poisoning them, seducing them, giving them STDS... is our revenge too elaborate? Too sadistic? According to science: no. Science says this is just the beginning. Science says it's going to break mosquitoes.
How? Mind control. The general idea is to influence their behavior in such a way so as to prevent them from spreading diseases ever again. Now, you're probably wondering what exactly they are using to control mosquitoes minds and, remembering the focus of most of the projects we've described, you're probably thinking, "its some weird sex thing isn't it? Jesus Christ." Well congratulations! You're totally right! Yet again we've contrived a scheme that hinges entirely on the fact that mosquitoes refuse to wear condoms.
Despite the powerful PSAs.
Scientists have noticed that male mosquito semen changes the behavior of females after they've had nasty mosquito-sex. The females become less active in both of the activities we humans want to stop: they drink less human blood, and they aren't as active in breeding more terrible mosquitoes. They basically go into a kind of post-sex depression. So, the answer is to simply develop some kind of, you know, giant mosquito jizz cannon, right?
Hey, compared to the mosquito, it's enormous.
Apparently that method was rejected as too "gross," so scientists instead gathered some of the semen (presumably by wanking dozens of males with tiny tweezers) and studied it to find just what chemicals had the behavior-altering effect. Once we isolate it, we'll have our mosquito mind control spray! And there is nothing they can do to stop us! Especially now that we've explained our entire plan to them!
For animals who scoff in the face of our human weapons, check out 5 Animals That Are Terrifyingly Hard to Kill and 6 Animals That Just Don't Give a F#@k.