TNB Night Owl–How Many Mosquitoes Can Fit In A Teaspoon?

Mosquito. Photo by JJ Harrison.

Have you ever looked at a syringe and wondered, “How many mosquitoes can I fit into one of these things?” Scientists at New Mexico State University did, and it turns out the answer is, “quite a few.”

This isn’t as pointless an exercise as it sounds. In areas where mosquitoes spread massive disease, a theory holds that the introduction of sterile (or otherwise genetically altered) mosquitoes into the areas will cause the population to decrease and, thus, not be as dangerous. This method was first used mid-20th century to get rid of the screwworm, as well as eradicating the Tsetse Fly in Zanzibar. (Pop culture has it’s reservations about these methods). But once these mosquitoes have been altered in the lab, how can they be transported to the locations where they’re needed the most?

The mail. So what’s the best way to pack them?

That’s where the New Mexico researchers come in. They tried a 10 milliliter tube, and found a whopping 10,000 mosquitoes could be jam packed inside. Squeezing with a 10ml syringe, the number was 2500.

(The answer to the original question is approximately 1200 mosquitoes per teaspoon.)

The next step was sending them as an overnight shipment. All shipments involved some damage and injury to the insects, but it seems the ones more densely packed ship better because they have less room to be jostled around in transit.

If this works, it could be the answer to the suffering of millions worldwide. But it’s still creepy to think about vacuum-packed mosquitoes.

QUESTION OF THE NIGHT–What’s the best adventure that you ever had that started with “You know what would be interesting…”?

About the opinions in this article…

Any opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website or of the other authors/contributors who write for it.