Thick swarms of mosquitoes are killing livestock in Louisiana after Hurricane Laura

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This September 2, 2020, photo provided by veterinarian Craig Fontenot shows deer at a ranch where they were killed by hordes of mosquitoes.
DR. CRAIG FONTENOT/AP

(CBS) — Clouds of mosquitoes have been so thick in southwest Louisiana since Hurricane Laura that they’re killing animals, including horses and cattle. The vast number of bites leave horses and cattle anemic and bleeding under their skins.

The animals also become exhausted from constantly moving in an attempt to avoid the biting insects, a large-animal veterinarian based in Ville Platte told The Associated Press this week.

“They’re vicious little suckers,” said Dr. Craig Fontenot.

Farmers in a five-parish area east and northeast of the parishes where the storm made landfall in late August have probably lost 300 to 400 cattle, he said.

Fontenot said only a few horses and no goats have died, probably because they are generally kept in stalls which can be sprayed with insecticide, while cattle may graze in 50- or 100-acre pastures.

A deer rancher lost about 30 of his 110 animals, many of which had already been sold, Fontenot said.

“He’s saying its over $100,000 he lost,” the veterinarian said.

Several parishes have started aerial spraying, which has begun to thin the hordes pushed out of marshes by the storm, agricultural extension agents said in a news release Wednesday from the LSU AgCenter.

“The spraying has dropped the populations tremendously. It’s made a night-and-day difference,” Acadia Parish agent Jeremy Hebert said.

The insects remain a big problem in Calcasieu and Jefferson Davis parishes, though spraying has reduced the severity a bit, said Jimmy Meaux, AgCenter agent for those parishes.

Livestock deaths from mosquitoes aren’t a new phenomenon. Fontenot said they also occurred after Hurricane Lili in 2002 and Hurricane Rita in 2005. Florida and Texas have had similar problems after hurricanes, he said.

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