Headline: "Genetically modified mosquitoes released in U.S. for first time."
You might think: Ah, gee, can you just not? Don't you watch movies? Don't you know how this goes? It starts with a scientist on a chat show, talking about how they've made some clever alteration to mosquitoes, and then the plot jumps ahead two years, and we hear a newsreader on TV:
"Scientists say that the May-to-October lockdown may become a permanent feature of modern life, unless genetic engineering finds a way to diminish the rage of the so-called 'Murder Skeeter,' or 'Winged Piranha,' a fearsome insect that swarms in thick clouds and can drain a cow dry in 30 seconds.
"For now, only essential workers are allowed outside in the mosquito season, and they must wear full protective gear and carry flamethrowers. Yet indoors may not be safe. Some reports indicate that Murder Skeeters can form dense shapes and batter at windows in an attempt to get inside."
Then there's a crash and screams and 100 mosquitoes the size of corgi dogs stream into the studio, impaling the cameraman. The picture cuts out.
You might say I am fearmongering. No. I deliberately used "corgi dog" as a size reference because, admit it, you saw adorable little dogs flying around, didn't you? If I wanted to monger fear, I would be bleating about Frankenskeeters! But I am not. Yet.
Here's what's going on: A company called Oxitec fiddled around with the genetic code of male mosquitoes, inserting some tricky instructions that get handed off to mom mosquito during mating. This code is passed on to the female offspring, who are unable to thrive. The descendants become decedents.
Will it work? It's worked in other countries, they said, and we don't hear stories from Brazil about people being carried off by genetically enhanced mosquitoes. But I suspect nature will adapt. Female mosquitoes will be able to detect the fatal gene, just like female humans can detect Axe cologne and adjust their mating accordingly.
Then again, there will be female mosquitoes who know he's bad for them but tell their friends she can change him. He's just misunderstood.
(I am now picturing a corgi with a long proboscis, wearing a leather jacket and straddling a motorcycle.)
Best line in the news article: "Only female mosquitoes bite people (male mosquitoes exclusively drink nectar)." Typical. She's doing all the work, and he's hanging out with the boys, poundin' flower hooch!
Most intriguing line: "To make it easier to track the modified mosquitoes, Oxitec introduced a gene that causes the mosquitoes to glow under a specific color of light."
What? If they can make skeeters glow, then it would be easier to see them, and their stealthy attacks could be more easily thwarted. Make them blink on and off, so they get our attention, and we can start lighting citronella candles, which are votive offerings to Noeffectum, the God of Useless Remedies.
Then again, the person who gene-splices a skeeter that glows and blinks would think "I've just invented vampire fireflies," and probably burn his notes in shame.
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