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An Impossible Foe

(2010-08-23 16:11:03)
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健康

分类: 翻译

An Impossible Foe
蚊子—人类不可战胜的敌人
Despite Years of Research, Scientists Can't Seem to Beat the Mosquito
虽然进行了多年的研究,但科学家似乎依然不能彻底消灭蚊子。
By Lee Dye
作者:李•岱伊
— We had barely stepped out of our car in Canada's northern Yukon Territory when the siege began. Dark clouds descended out of nowhere as seemingly zillions of mosquitoes dove in for the kill.
当蚊子在加拿大北部育空地区对我们展开袭击时,我们几乎不能走出汽车。成千上万的蚊子四处都是,像黑压压的乌云一样笼罩着整个地区,搜寻着它们的美餐。
Despite years of research, science can't seem to stop the mosquito. (ArtToday)
虽然进行了多年的研究,但科学家似乎依然不能消灭蚊子。
Over the next two weeks, as we tried to enjoy our vacation, these monstrous little critters plunged their sharp needles into our bodies, sucking out our blood, defying every effort to chase them away. It seemed like our usually effective bug repellants were attracting them instead. They ate through our clothes, leaving welts across my wife's back (they found her more tasty than me) and more than once our only defense was to pack up and leave our campsite.
我们前两周去度假时,发现了许多小蚊子。它们把尖尖的嘴巴刺入我们的身体,吸取我们的血液。这些蚊子胆大包天,我们用尽了办法也赶不走它们。似乎我们平常用的驱蚊工具没有起到任何作用,反倒使得这些蚊子愈加猖狂了。蚊子们的尖嘴刺穿了我们的衣服,在我妻子的背上留下了硕硕战果—它们可能认为我妻子的血液比我的更美味可口。我们对此毫无办法,唯一的抵抗手段就是一次次地收拾起包袱,离开自己的营地。
The situation bugged me, so to speak, so much that I decided to find out if we are anywhere near winning the war against mosquitoes. One expert after another answered my question essentially the same way.
In a word, the answer is no.
这种情况令我不胜其烦,说老实话,这实在太讨厌了。因此我决定看看我们人类是否快要能够消灭蚊子了。一个又一个专家对我这个问题的回答如出一辙,全都是一个“不”字。
We're winning a few skirmishes, and there is some progress to be reported, but the war is definitely not in our favor.
我们与蚊子的斗争只取得了小部分胜利,而据报道,我们在消灭蚊子上虽取得了一定的进步,但是这场战役显然不尽人意。
Mosquitoes Have the Numbers and Advantages
蚊子数量庞大,拥有大量优势
"Mosquitoes will probably be here a long time after we are all gone," says biologist Douglas Carlson of the American Mosquito Control Association.
美国蚊虫防治协会的生物学家道格拉斯•查尔森(Douglas Carlson)说:“就算我们所有人都从这个世界上消失了,蚊子都可能会继续生存很长一段时间。”
"I don't think we're even close to eradicating or removing mosquitoes from our environment," adds Donald R. Barnard, who heads the mosquito unit at the U.S. Agricultural Research Service's Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Fla.
唐纳德•巴纳德(Donald R. Barnard,)是设在佛罗里达格尼斯威尔的美国农业研究服务部下属医疗、农业及兽医昆虫学中心蚊虫研究小组的负责人。他补充说:“我认为我们甚至还没有找到把蚊子从我们周围彻底清除的办法。”
There are around 3,000 mosquito species around the world, about four or five dozen of which are of concern to humans because they can transmit serious diseases. Female mosquitoes need blood (males don't bite) to produce their eggs, so they are annoying as well as potentially deadly.
世界上大约有3000种蚊子,其中大约有四、五十种蚊子对人体有害,因为它们能传播严重的疾病。母蚊子需要鲜血(公蚊子不叮人)来产卵,因此它们就象定时炸弹一样让人心烦意乱。
They have proven to be so adaptable to changing environments that they've "pretty much handled everything we've thrown at them," says Barnard, whose lab none-the-less has made some progress.
事实证明,蚊子对环境的改变有很强的适应性,它们已经“漂亮地应付了我们用来消灭它们的所有东西”,巴纳德说。巴纳德负责的实验室在消灭蚊子上进步不大。
There are several factors that tilt the playing field in the mosquito's favor. There's relatively little money to be made in producing chemicals that can kill mosquitoes so major chemical companies are reluctant to make the kind of investment that could lead to success. And mosquitoes tend to settle and reproduce in environmentally sensitive areas, making it much more difficult to kill them off without seriously damaging the environment.
有许多事实对蚊子的横行有利。生产杀灭蚊子的化学制品相对赚不了多少钱,因此一些大型化学公司不愿意做出这种可以成功杀灭蚊虫的投资。蚊子变得能在许多环境恶劣的地方生存和繁殖下去。要想在对环境不造成严重损害的情况下杀灭蚊子已经变得越来越困难了。
In the old days, entire lakes were drained to kill off mosquito larvae, but that also eliminated the lakes for a wide range of other users, including humans and wildlife. That's now a no-no because it falls in the range of throwing out the baby with the bath water.
过去,为了清除孑孓,曾经把整湖的水都放干过,但是这种办法同时也导致许多湖泊干涸,对包括人和野生动物在内的许多生物的用水带来影响。现在这种办法是绝对不可行的,因为这与把初生的婴儿抛入水中学游泳没有什么两样。
"It's a question of balancing mosquito control needs with protecting sensitive environmental habitats," says Carlson, who chairs the environmental protection committee for the mosquito association.
蚊虫防治协会的环境保护委员会主席查尔森说:“要平衡控制蚊子和保护脆弱的生物环境之间的关系是很困难的。”
One Possibility: Drown 'Em
一个可能:水淹蚊子
The association has worked to improve the current method of controlling mosquito populations that breed in saltwater marshes, a major source for several species of mosquitoes.
美国蚊虫防治协会一直在为改进目前控制盐水沼泽地蚊子繁殖数量的方法而努力。而盐水沼泽地正是许多种蚊子的主要来源地。
These mosquitoes lay their eggs on moist soil in the marshes, but they won't lay them on standing water like many other species. So a few decades ago it was learned that if dykes were built around the marshes, a little fresh water could be pumped in, flooding the breeding areas.
盐水沼泽地的蚊子把自己的腿埋在沼泽地潮湿的泥土中,而不是像其它蚊子那样把腿放在水面上。因此,几十年前,人们就意识到如果在沼泽地周围修建起堤坝,将一些淡水灌入沼泽地中,就可以把蚊子赖以生存的环境给冲刷掉。
It doesn't take much water to wipe out the mosquito habitat, Carlson says, but any alteration of the natural environment has some adverse affects.
查尔森说,消灭这种蚊子的生存环境并不需要太多的水,但是任何对自然环境的改造都存在不利的一面。
Continuing the practice of flooding saltwater marshes without wiping out the habitat for other species is one of the primary goals of the mosquito association, which operates under the auspices of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The program has been somewhat successful, but as anyone who has visited Florida in the summer knows, millions of mosquitoes are doing just fine, thank you.
继续对盐水沼泽地注入淡水,而不毁坏其它物种的生存环境是获得联邦环境保护署赞助的美国蚊虫防治协会的主要目标之一。这个计划取得了一定程度的成功,但是任何在夏季到过佛罗里达的人都知道,数百万的蚊子没有受到任何影响,依然自由自在地活着。
Death by Infection and Death Traps
死亡传播和死亡陷阱
Barnard's lab has made some progress in a couple of promising areas. For example, some viruses have been known to kill mosquitoes, but scientists have been frustrated in their efforts to come up with a way of transmitting the virus to the mosquitoes.
巴纳德的实验室在两个有可能成功的领域取得了一些进步。例如,已经知道一些病毒可以杀死蚊子,但是科学家没有能够成功地找出一种方法将病毒传播给蚊子。
Researchers at the lab have, for the first time, figured out a way to do that. By blending certain chemicals with the virus, Barnard says, they have transmitted a virus that kills some mosquitoes, specifically the mosquitoes in the Culex genus that carry St. Louis encephalitis. That is the most common disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes in the United States. Mild infections can cause headaches and fever, but severe cases can cause convulsions, paralysis, or even death.
Entomologist James J. Becnel of the Gainesville lab says that in a field test case, the treatment killed 60 percent to 70 percent of the mosquito larvae over a 48 to 72 hour period.
巴纳德实验室的研究人员首次提出一种可以这么做的方法。巴纳德说,他们的办法是将某种化学制品与病毒混合,再通过喷洒化学制品,用病毒来杀死部分蚊子,特别是杀死传播圣路易斯脑炎的库蚊属种蚊子。圣路易斯脑炎美国最常见的一种疾病,主要通过蚊子传播。如果轻微感染这种疾病就会导致人头痛、发烧,但是严重的则会导致人抽搐、瘫痪甚至死亡。格尼斯威尔实验室的昆虫学家詹姆士•贝克尼(James J. Becnel)说,在一次实地试验中,这种方法在48-72小时之内杀死了60%-70%的孑孓。
So far, the tests have indicated that the virus is not harmful to other organisms, including humans, but more testing is needed.
到目前为止,试验证明这种病毒对其它包括人类在内的有机生物没有危害,但还需要对此进行更多的检测。

Another idea is to come up with a means of attracting mosquitoes to a designated area where they could be ambushed. That's just what Barnard and other researchers have been trying to do, and with some success.
还有一个主意是把蚊子引诱到某个可以消灭它们的特定区域。那正是巴纳德和其它研究人员正在努力尝试的事情,并且已经在取得了一定成功。
Mosquitoes are guided to their targets by several factors, including sight, infrared radiation, and exhaled carbon dioxide. So the researchers have been zeroing in on specific "attractants" that could be used to lure mosquitoes into a trap. Old socks work quite well, provided they've been worn long enough. Limburger cheese is pretty good. But carbon dioxide is very effective. That means a mosquito can smell your breath from a long ways away. So Barnard and his colleagues are developing a sniff-and-die trap. Carbon dioxide and other attractants are released near the trap, which works a little like a sophisticated vacuum cleaner. The bug sniffs the scent, zeros in, and gets captured by the wind from a small fan, forcing it into a bag.
蚊子是依靠许多东西寻找猎物的,其中包括视觉、红外放射线、呼吸出的二氧化碳。因此研究人员把目标定在研究一种可以用来将蚊子引进陷阱的特殊“诱饵”上。旧袜子在这方面发挥出了相当好的效用,当然,必须是穿过很长时间,很旧的袜子。林堡干酪也是相当好的诱饵。但二氧化碳是很活跃的一种气体。那就意味着蚊子能从很远的地方嗅到你的呼吸。因此巴纳德和他的同事们正在发明一种蚊子一嗅就死的陷阱。陷阱周围布好了二氧化碳和其它诱饵,陷阱灭蚊的时候与精密复杂的真空吸尘器吸尘有点像。蚊子嗅到气味,全都飞过来,被一个小扇子扇出的风吹进了一个袋子里面。
You'll probably be able to buy one of these gizmos one of these days soon, but don't expect it to cure the mosquito problem. Even Barnard admits it might only work well in a back yard, or another urban setting, where the mosquito population is relatively low.
你可能很快就能买到这些小发明做出的一种灭蚊工具了,但是不要奢望它能够彻底解决蚊子问题,连巴纳德都承认说它可能只在后院、城市建筑群等蚊子数量相对较少的地方效果明显。
"It's not going to work very well where you've got a horrendous number of mosquitoes," he says.
他说:“在蚊子数量惊人的地方,这种工具的作用不是特别大。”
It sure won't solve the problem for the Yukon, where horrendous is an understatement. And incidentally, our problem there was one of poor timing. A hot spell, following a rainy summer, was all the bugs needed to ruin ours.
这个工具肯定不能解决育空地区的蚊虫问题,因为在育空地区,蚊虫数量岂只惊人,简直吓死人。顺便说一句,我们的问题是没有足够的时间。换句流行的说法就是,一个多雨的夏季过去后,无数叮咬我们的蚊子就会随之而来。

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