Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Better Way to Fight Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes. No other insect is as deservedly loathed. Worldwide, mosquitoes are responsible for more suffering, disease, and death than any other insect.

Here in Monroe County, the Mosquito Control Board has an annual budget of over $20 million dollars. Much of that money is spent on spraying chemicals from planes, helicopters, and trucks.

Mosquito Control states that:

"The insecticides used by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District are among the insecticides least hazardous to humans"
But I can't help but wish for another solution. One not involving the spraying of so much pesticide.

A paper published two weeks ago by Rothamsted Research may have identified a better solution - one that makes the mosquitoes do the hard work.

In the experiment adult mosquitoes unwittingly delivered insecticide to their breeding pools - killing nearly all the larvae.

Here is how its done:

Mosquitoes, after they have bitten you, look for a damp place to rest waiting for their eggs to develop.

Researchers poured pyriproxyfen in cups stuffed with dark-colored fabric, creating the damp place mosquitoes prefer. Pyriproxyfen is a pesticide sold under the name Nylar and is not harmful to adult mosquitoes. These cups where placed throughout a particularly buggy Peruvian cemetery. Blood engourged-mosquitoes landed on the fabric and contaminated their legs with pyriproxyfen. When those mosquitoes went to lay their eggs they transfered the pesticide to their breeding pools. As a result, 98% of the mosquito larvae died.

Here is an illustration of the process:

According to the research paper:

"The use of the adult mosquito as the transfer vehicle ensures that the larvicides are very accurately targeted: the more popular the breeding site, the greater the transfer of insecticide and the more effective the control. "
As for the safety of pyriproxyfen, Rothamsted Research notes:

"Pyriproxyfen, the insecticide used, is a juvenile hormone analogue. It is already registered for public health use. It has drinking water approval from the WHO of 300 ppb which is 1000 times the dose needed to control [the mosquito species] Aedes aegypti."
Let's try this method in the the Florida Keys. Make the mosquitoes kill the mosquitoes.
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Monday, June 01, 2009

Has the Key West Real Estate Market Hit Bottom?

Has the Key West real estate market hit bottom?

There are a couple reasons to believe it has.

First, inventory of Key West homes is finally dropping. The combination of bargain prices, bank owned liquidations, panicking sellers, low interest rates, and an $8000 tax credit for first time buyers have gotten buyers off the fence.

Currently, the Key West MLS is showing 808 properties for sale in Key West (that includes everything in the residential category including: single family, condo, multi unit, and more). At one point, there were well over 1400 properties in residential.

Even toxic banks have less property on hand. Take a look at this chart of Countrywide's "real estate owned":

This counts the number of properties Countrywide owns. The number is dropping rapidly - a key to the recovery of the banking sector.

Another clue that Key West real estate has bottomed is the Zillow 10-year price chart. Finally, prices have reached the long term trend line.

Don't get me wrong - there are still plenty of unrealistic sellers out there. For them, the market is still falling.

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