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The great mosquito outbreak of 1967 netted 250,000 mosquitoes as part of a radio promotion

Posted at 2:42 PM, Feb 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-13 17:40:14-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- In 1967, the mosquito problem in Indianapolis got so bad, that WFBM Radio ran a promotion for people to bring in their dead mosquitoes in exchange for a nickel.

Five cents for a dead mosquito: As crazy as it sounds, we recently uncovered a box of thousands of the little things in the RTV6 archives, offering proof that the station took the promotion "dead" seriously.

The little buggers were kept in small, thumbtack-sized boxes marked "Authentic Souvenir Mosquito, WFBM Radio 1260".

WFBM was the flagship station that RTV6 originally launched to air, hence why we uncovered these creepy crawlies in our building. 

The station ran the promotion for 10 days. An excerpt from a TIME Magazine article from Sept. 29, 1967 details how the deal was promoted: "Throughout the day for several weeks running, a WFBM executive in the guise of a Spanish-accented, used-mosquito dealer drummed up entries for the competition."

Only $100 was budgeted for the giveaway, but they ended up collecting more than 250,000 mosquitoes and shelling out more than $13,000. So yes, it's fair to call 1967 a "bad" year for mosquitoes in Indianapolis.

The station was shocked by the response, but made lemonade out of dead bugs.

The promoters decided to sell back some of the dead mosquitoes to the public. They mounted and boxed them (see the image at the bottom of this story), selling them back for $1.

The money from the bug buy-back went to a scholarship fund with proceeds for Hemophilia of Indiana, an organization still in existence today that provides "programs and services to persons with bleeding disorders throughout Indiana while working toward the ultimate goal... A CURE."

The scholarship went to students affected by bleeding disorders. 

Give a watch to the video at the top of this story for more on how we discovered the bloodsuckers.