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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/331

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327
ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF MOSQUITOES

blithely, and by noon have given up the work and started back to the city. Of course such conditions do not occur every year; nor do they continue throughout the season; but they do occur often enough and last long enough to make the farmer hesitate about putting in a crop which he knows would pay if he got it, but which he may be compelled to see rot on the ground because no pickers can be found to brave the mosquito hosts. Few persons are ready to believe at a first statement how important a factor in. the agricultural development of a region the mosquito may become.

Third: there is the effect of the mosquito upon the availability of a territory for development as a residential district.

This is the most important feature of the problem in New Jersey today, and there is no exaggeration in the statement that the elimination of the mosquito would add ten millions to the taxable value of real estate in two years. Let me illustrate: New York City is a highly desirable place of residence in winter; but less so in summer, and there are thousands of residents of New York City who are well able to afford a summer home within an hour or two from town, and who are quite willing to pay for it. New Jersey has many places ideal in situation and accessibility, and one such place developed rapidly to a certain point and there it stood, halted by the mosquitoes that bred in the surrounding marsh lands. Country club, golf, tennis and other attractions ceased to attract when attention was necessarily focussed on the biting or singing pests that intruded everywhere, and the tendency was to sell out. But the owners were not ready to quit without a fight, and an improvement society was formed which consulted with my office and followed my advice. In one year the bulk of the breeding area was drained, mosquitoes have since been absent almost entirely; one gentleman, not a large owner, either, told me his property had increased $50,000 in value, and new settlers began to come in. This year one of the worst breeding areas of the olden day was used as a camping ground, and 100 new residences are planned for next year.

New Jersey has miles of sea coast that is unequaled for summer resorts. All but a few points are practically abandoned as uninhabitable. Barnegat Bay and its surroundings constitute a fisherman's paradise, and again and again settlements have started, done well for a season and have been abandoned. Those who came one year never came again, and many who came for a month stayed only a day.

The only thing that prevents a continuous line of summer resorts along the entire shore line is the mosquito pest, and were that removed there would be a scramble to get land.

We may take the result on Staten Island as an example. This Island, now a part of Greater New York, is geographically a portion of New Jersey, separated from the mainland by a narrow stream or