The hidden inequality of mosquito bites

by on July 14, 2017 at 12:20 am in Data Source, Science | Permalink

Now, a team of public health researchers studying neighborhoods in Baltimore has added one more indignity to that list: poorer neighborhoods also have to deal with more serious mosquito infestations.

The researchers, led by Eliza Little of Columbia University, surveyed Asian tiger mosquito populations in five West Baltimore neighborhoods, spanning the gamut from the impoverished (Harlem Park) to the well-heeled (Bolton Hill).

For three years, they surveyed a number of factors known to influence mosquito populations: abandoned buildings, accumulating trash, sources of standing water and surface vegetation among them. They tallied mosquito larvae and pupae where they found them, and put up periodic traps to catch and count adult female mosquitoes (the ones that do the biting).

It turned out, unsurprisingly, that poor neighborhoods have more abandoned buildings and also have more accumulated trash and more standing pools of water, all conducive to mosquitoes.

Here is the Wonkblog piece by Christopher Ingraham, here is the paper itself, in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

1 Careless July 14, 2017 at 12:53 am

good god, you need to fix that graphic

2 James McCammon July 14, 2017 at 1:39 am

Needs to be at least twice the size.

3 Dan Lavatan-Jeltz July 14, 2017 at 1:41 am

It is actually pretty clear if you have a monitor that can show 10000 pixels per inch.

4 A clockwork orange July 14, 2017 at 1:20 am

I have painted a painting for Cowan and Thiago and Rayward and the butcher and also the kentucy watts element. But for poor Hazel.

The key is to recognize where shampooing your nether regions is paramount to wearing conditioner using cold water towels in steam rooms. For Art Deco, I can smell his old wretched cologne for miles away.

5 Hazel Meade July 14, 2017 at 11:07 am

You love me! You really really love me!

6 efim polenov July 14, 2017 at 1:20 am

People who care about each other do better at pouring the water out of standing tires that people who do not care all that much about each other (If you are a human being with a minimal amount of Entomological Knowledge you know that is true) and People who care about their children try to live in neighborhoods where People care about each other (can’t argue with that). This is not a tragedy based on rich versus poor this is a tragedy arising from the sadly low percentage of people, a percentage which is sadly lower in some neighborhoods than others, who care about each other. (Negative responses to this post are hard to predict, but if you are tempted to say something snarky, please reconsider your time management skills – I speak from experience here and it is extremely unlikely that your intended insults will be meaningful). I say this as somebody who loves mosquitoes and whose best memories include memories of living, year after year, in poor mosquito infested neighborhoods: they (the mosquitoes, not the neighborhoods, which I do not have time to describe here) are in a sense the spirited freedom lovers of the insect world, having no weighty ambitions towards beauty or colorful artistry; they fly fast and well, and make a sound that even Milton, whose appreciation for the natural world was not all that impressive, recognized as being similar, in its humble way(s), to the trumpets of the angels of heaven. But I love people almost infinitely more than I love mosquitoes and for the love of God, people, tip those old tires over and drain those baleful rubber-rimmed puddles where the mosquito spawn congregate. (correction – not almost infinitely – infinitely – and the mosquitoes would not want it any other way. They are neither selfish nor unrealistic; the “God of Israel slumbers not nor sleeps” is a Bible verse they understand in their small innocent hearts. God loves us all).

7 efim polenov July 14, 2017 at 1:28 am

“People who care about each other do better at pouring the water out of standing tires than people who do not care all that much about each other” can be translated, word for word, without changing the word order, into 2 European languages, and at least 3 non-European languages. Except for the verb “do”, of course, which really does not have a parallel in any language which can be commonly found more than 150 miles from any English (or even British) Beach. To a mosquito, God bless their innocent little hearts, that means nothing: to a translator, even a badly paid one, that is obvious: feliz venerdi.

8 efim polenov July 14, 2017 at 1:42 am

“Milton” is “John Milton”, of course. There are a lot of Miltons in the world (including a nice town in Wisconsin with a fascinating uber-retro city square which was a city square before the days of nostalgia for that sort of thing) but “John Milton” was the one I meant, the guy who wrote about mosquitoes.

9 anonymous July 14, 2017 at 2:17 am

That being said, Milton, who really did not have a friend in the world, was a friend to mosquitoes: I, for one, will not criticize him without saying that, knowing that.

10 anonymous July 14, 2017 at 2:21 am

DF Wallace, for all his faults, wrote well about tennis: I would like to read his thoughts on a beloved but mosquito-infested neighborhood. He is missed.

11 DFW July 14, 2017 at 2:31 am

The white pines and the blue spruces, their branches taut, conducted a many-headed April symphony. The prevailing winds from the Great Lake met the gusts off the Mississippi River and combined to form a treble against the Packard’s windows….

Southern gales from the Dakotas burred against the tires of U-Haul trucks, waking the parents as their college kids headed to a place they once knew.

12 efim polenov July 14, 2017 at 2:35 am

I would not be surprised if he liked mosquitoes as much as I do. They only want what everybody wants, to love and to be loved, and it is not their fault that they are mosquitoes.

13 effete as diminutive July 14, 2017 at 2:37 am

Augustine wet the windshield, and the wipers wiped off the barnacled mosquitos.

14 efim polenov July 14, 2017 at 2:45 am

On another website I wrote a few hundred compassionate words about cockroaches, of all things: another commenter stated it was interesting but it made him feel itchy: it is not a simple thing to live in a world where all anybody wants is to love and be loved, and I felt bad that I had not written in a way that would not have encouraged him to react that way. That is why Bible verses are worth referencing: and Milton, too, even if he never had a friend in this world. Archie, Mehitabel: last year someone told me I reminded them of Jughead, Archie’s loyal friend. Well maybe it is a simple world.

15 efim polenov July 14, 2017 at 2:48 am

2:37 – no, that is an unconvincing misuse of language. You can do better than that! Wake up!

16 efim polenov July 14, 2017 at 3:09 am

2:31. thanks

17 A clockwork orange July 14, 2017 at 3:27 pm

yes ty

18 TheAngryPhilosopher July 14, 2017 at 1:35 am

Yet another foul deed by our nasty privileged class! Will their perfidious efforts to oppress never cease? /s

19 Yancey Ward July 14, 2017 at 1:56 am

I felt like a mosquito trying to read that graphic.

20 historicus July 14, 2017 at 2:06 am

This of course is the pen name of Benjamin Evening. It is little know that Tyler wrote the Contrast, the first play in America, as well as a travelogue on his ex-cathedra time in Algiers during the war. Are mosquitos on some type of manumission? It is unclear. The slave poet Jupiter Hammon says of them they often change the joke and slip the yoke. Are they performing some type Colonization Societal Act that pulls human blood in a free and tender Liberia? It is possible. Us old Natchezians, we don’t mind the bug bites. But yes there is something missing from Milton. Indeed it has not availed itself to me.

21 anonymous July 14, 2017 at 2:11 am

Milton, poor fellow, never woke up a single day in his life thinking truly humble thoughts (he tried, God knows he tried….). That is what was missing, and it says well of you that it has not availed itself to you.

22 msgkings July 14, 2017 at 2:09 am

Pump your breaks. Are you saying the paramounts in china are like marabouts (muslim monks)???

23 anonymous July 14, 2017 at 2:16 am

Maybe, maybe not, but who would have thought such partisans for the innocent mosquitoes would be found amongst us? Ama Dablam is one thing, compassion for the least of us is another, even if it is only invoked in words (sad limitation). Innocence is no small thing, even in a small creature (years later, Jonah could not dream of the whale as large – always in his dreams it was a small, burdened and unhappy creature, until the very end of the dream).

24 anonymous July 14, 2017 at 2:23 am

In my state, Ama Dablam is one too many letters long for my license plate! Sad, but I shall not repine.

25 Ray Lopez July 14, 2017 at 2:23 am

Mosquitoes adapt. I recall reading in the London Tube there are a sub-species of mosquito that has adapted to the cooler climate underground and pesticides used there, and has thrived.

Bonus trivia: the oversized graphic says LARVAE in big bold letters. Reminds me of the Ascaris lumbricoides I pulled out of my arse the other day that was a foot long (one of two in fact). Relax people, I took 400 mg of Albendazole and they’re dead now. One of them was wiggling as it came out. The most embarrassing Ascaris episode (I’ve been told, never had it happen) is when you cough and one of the larvae and/or juveniles (a few inches long) comes out of your mouth (the adults live in your intestines, but the larvae live in your bloodstream and lungs). A routine occurrence in the tropics, and once a year you take an ascaricide and rid your worm load, no big deal. Malaria is less gross but much more deadly. Reminds me, I meant to Google whether quinine really works vs mosquitoes…yes it does, and quite effective too. So gin really does have medicinal value, I’ll drink to that.

26 chip July 14, 2017 at 3:18 am

Familiar excuses from the study:

“The distribution of abandoned buildings and urban vegetation is rooted in historical social processes (e.g., the legacy of redlining; Biehler 2013) and influenced by current issues (e.g., investment or disinvestment in housing rehabilitation, planting of trees for climate change mitigation; Pickett et al. 2011).”

Shorter version: racism and climate change.

Baltimore has been run by Democrats since 1967.

27 Bill July 14, 2017 at 7:45 am

Yeah, just look at the governing success in Mississippi.

28 Jay July 14, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Compared to Baltimore? I’ll take that look.

29 JonFraz July 14, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Re: Baltimore has been run by Democrats since 1967.

The fallacy of irrelevance rears its head. (Just about all major cities are run by Democrats; Baltimore is not exceptional in this respect)

30 Anon7 July 14, 2017 at 3:33 am

A study worthy of a Golden Fleece Award for wasting taxpayers’ money.

31 dearieme July 14, 2017 at 5:01 am

How much that appears in American blogs is covertly, semi-covertly, or openly, about blacks?

32 Bill July 14, 2017 at 7:51 am

Just the comments are. The study was about abandoned property and associated consequences. Property gets abandoned because people are poor. Abandoned property maintenance and clearance of title costs governments money so it doesn’t get done. And, its so easy to blame poor people for the failure of taxpayers to support demolishing or clearing title of abandoned property. Why didn’t those poor people just go out there and destroy that abandoned property and clear its title.

33 Bill July 14, 2017 at 7:52 am

I’ve seen a lot of abandoned property in poor white areas as well.

34 chuck martel July 14, 2017 at 6:20 am

Much of the world is overrun with mosquitoes. There’s jillions of them zooming around bush Alaska that probably never, ever meet a warm-blooded animal to drink from. Doesn’t matter. They reproduce anyway. But they don’t carry malaria. So they’re just an inconvenience. Hippy repellent, as the locals say.

35 dearie July 14, 2017 at 9:50 pm

Mosquitoes nestle in the big rubber tire of a mossy Georgia night.

36 The Original CC July 14, 2017 at 7:55 am

So now we have yet another good reason for mankind to completely wipe mosquitoes from the face of the earth: It’ll decrease inequality.

I’m serious. Let’s get moving.

37 The Other Jim July 14, 2017 at 11:02 am

They’ve killed more people than all wars combined.

The enviro-Dems don’t care about that, of course. But now that we have rock-solid evidence that mosquitos are disproportionately inconveniencing some impoverished Baltimore neighborhoods, perhaps we can let the genocide begin.

38 FG July 14, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Is there even a hypothetical eradication strategy at this point?

39 The Original CC July 14, 2017 at 5:13 pm
40 Hazel Meade July 14, 2017 at 2:23 pm

I imagine that the red-green response to this would be to engage in cleanup efforts to remove trash in impoverished neighborhoods, rather than kill the mosquitos. So we’d witness lots of middle-class college kids picking up after poor people who mostly won’t appreciate it, and won’t bother to keep the neighborhood trash free afterwards.

41 Dan in Philly July 14, 2017 at 8:29 am

People who can afford to do so live in places higher on the hills to escape from water problems. People who cannot live where there is more standing water and flooding, and more mosquitoes. How is this study at all surprising? Isn’t that part of capitalism? Using your wealth to afford a better lifestyle?

42 NYer July 14, 2017 at 9:34 am

Weird how it’s better to be rich, right?

43 Hazel Meade July 14, 2017 at 10:08 am

I’m inclined to chalk this down as “why do poor people not seem to give a shit about standing water and trash in their neighborhoods” ?
There may be some richer places where people pay to have people clean up trash, but for the most part, it seems to me that people in even middle-class place neighborhoods simply litter less and tidy up more.

44 Tis True July 14, 2017 at 11:08 am

Recently, there was an article in the local alternative weekly about how gentrification is pushing poor people out of the now-desirable downtown neighborhood (where poor people had been living for a few decades). I, a gentrifier, pointed out that the poor areas of town are strewn with so much garbage that the sidewalks are akin to rivers of trash. Even as volunteers were cleaning up the garbage (I was one of them) in a neighborhood beautification effort, the pooor residents were littering in front of the volunteers, as if to spite their gentrification.

I guess my point is, poor people (or maybe entitled people?) don’t really seem to care that much about their living environment. So tough nails on the gentrification?

45 Hazel Meade July 14, 2017 at 2:12 pm

It’s really one of those things that makes one think that the poor are just lazy and inconsiderate, which is why they can’t hold down jobs. If you can’t be bothered to throw trash in the trashcan and how don’t care about the effect of your behavior on others, how well are you going to fit into a workplace environment?
The same people who think it’s ok litter are also probably people who think it’s okay to show up 15 minutes late for your shift, or to be high on the job, or blow off shifts because you don’t feel like working that day.

46 JonFraz July 14, 2017 at 2:23 pm

You probably shouldn’t. The more likely problem is that the standing water is not out in plain sight where anyone could notice and do something about it. It’s in places that people can’tr get to, at least not without lot of effort, and possibly some risk.

47 Hazel Meade July 14, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Have you visited a poor neighborhood lately? There’s plenty of trash and standing water in plain sight. I’d like to be generous and assume there’s some economic reason, but it’s hard sometimes.

48 Colin July 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

I suppose it depends on how much is due to the abandoned buildings and how much is due to the trash. That said, I live in a mixed-income neighborhood in DC (Columbia Heights) and there is trash all over the place despite a plethora of trash receptacles. I get that being poor sucks, but what does income have to do with the ability to place trash in a receptacle instead of dropping it in the street (if one uses race as a proxy for income then anecdotal evidence suggests those doing the littering are overwhelmingly poor)?

On a related note, I recall being in downtown Kyoto last year and walking around for 10 minutes trying to find a garbage receptacle, yet trash in the streets was non-existent.

49 Colin July 14, 2017 at 11:23 am

Whoops, meant this as a response to Hazel Meade.

50 JonFraz July 14, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Trash in unsightly, and food wastes can draw rats (and flies). But mosquitoes need water to breed, so that much is not so much a trash problem.

51 Hazel Meade July 14, 2017 at 5:51 pm

A half-consumed bottle of soda or any sort of container lying on the group will contain water after it rains.

52 Hazel Meade July 14, 2017 at 5:54 pm

When I was living in Arizona it was notable that Hispanics were the worst offenders. I’m in favor of liberalizing immigration laws, but I could not help noticing that. I think it’s a cultural thing. They must not have littering laws in Mexico and Central America. Also, you would see it even on their trails for migrants through the desert. You would think they would want to keep those secret, but instead they leave an obvious track of empty water bottles and abandoned backpacks.

53 FG July 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Having moved to Philadelphia from the midwest a couple of years ago, here are two littering sources that were initially not obvious to me:

1. Misplaced recycling. A lot of people put their recycling out on the curb on trash day in semi-rigid paper bags. On particularly windy days these blow over, (recyclable) trash blows everywhere, and it’s a mess that’s not as deliberate as littering.

2. Homeless people. They punch way above their weight as litterers. It’s not exactly surprising that a homeless person would view social contracts with contempt, but they litter pretty aggressively.

54 Floccina July 14, 2017 at 3:21 pm
55 Floccina July 14, 2017 at 3:24 pm

My link didn’t work

I will try again:
Wipe out mosquito

56 AskedAndAnswered July 14, 2017 at 5:01 pm

My god can we not just stipulate that “inequality” applies to most things and is all correlated? Do we have to rediscover it everywhere and pretend it’s N independent observations?

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