The Star-Herald

Could the mosquito be useful?

Summer has begun and the mosquitoes and black flies are feasting on everyone. Thanks to COVID-19 issues there are problems with the supply of blood and blood products. And for the first time this year, the flyswatter has assumed its position as an office staff member.Swats lead to splats. Splats mean one less flying insect. Flies find great fun in teasing us by escaping and landing on our noses. They love to tease.

Patience is needed to take out a mosquito. Wait, let the little bug feast. As she gets bigger she gets slower. Bring the palm of the hand closer and then just as the bug wipes the last slobber from his proboscis: Wham! Done correctly this will lead to a large, red splotch on the surface. Champions in this game can be judged by the tie-dye effect seen on their T-shirts. It might just be the red bite of courage.

Could there be a better use for a mosquito or other bloodsucking insect? Bioengineers have proven that they can alter the DNA of viruses so that vaccines are created. Could these same bioengineers find a use for a bloodsucking bug that harasses all of us? Yes. It can be done.

Bloodsucking bugs can be re-engineered and redesigned to become blood supply collectors. When a bug bites a human, the process is complex as the sampled fluid is drawn into the bug, stored, and then wrapped around some eggs or used for fuel. This same process could be used to screen out pathogens and typing of the

Build for donation purposes. Because bugs are free to choose whom to bite, everyone would be contributing to the blood supply.

Just as bees can turn a field of flowers into honey with tiny sips of nectar, mosquitoes could collect our blood supply in enough quantity that the Red Cross would find itself benefiting from a surplus. Appropriate re-engineering could have the mosquitoes remove toxins and viruses from the blood. The bugs could be trained to collect and deposit those collections in appropriate facilities. 

Because bugs have no restrictions — they bite everyone — then everyone would be contributing to the general good. And unlike people, the bugs do not have to be paid. 

There is a use for a mosquito.

Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television, later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.

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