OK, nobody in space is saying that. But it is true that NASA scientists have created a map to better target future search-and-destroy missions for the deadliest animal on the planet, the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The blood-sucking females are responsible for the spread of dangerous diseases such as yellow and dengue fevers, chikungunya and now Zika.
The researchers focused their analysis on 50 cities within or near to the currently known range of the Aedes aegypti in the United States. The resulting map,
, applies factors such as temperature, amount of rainfall, poverty levels and travel to the United States from Zika-affected areas of the world. Even more, the researchers analyzed the risk for each month in the year.
A glance quickly shows that except for the tip of Texas and a bit of Florida, including the Keys, most areas of the United States have little to no risk during the winter months. That’s the time when colder temperatures and/or a lack of moisture keep mosquito eggs from hatching. Then, as rains and high temperatures begin to gather strength in the Southeast, the risk begins to rise, spreading across the South to California and up into the middle of the country.
By June, nearly all of those 50 cities “exhibit the potential for at least low-to-moderate abundance,” according to the study, “and most eastern cities are suitable for moderate-to-high abundance.”