Who’s to Say About the Mosquito?

Malaria infects some 247 million people worldwide each year, and kills nearly one million. Mosquitoes cause a huge further medical and financial burden by spreading yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya virus and West Nile virus.
- Janet Fang’s Ecology: A world without mosquitoes

Photo-Wile-E.-Coyote-RocketRemember this guy? No matter how many times he tried to catch the roadrunner with his technologies and ‘wit’ the roadrunner prevailed and poor Wiley E. Coyote went home hurt. I don’t remember the roadrunner ever committing an act of violence against the Coyote but the Coyote certainly did a number to himself.  Humans do this same thing with nature.

For instance, our fight against the mosquito has led putting DEET, N -Diethyl-meta-tuluamide, a common active ingredient in insect repellent on our skin and clothes. DEET was originally used by the United States military in jungle warfare. DEET was later found to be a cause of seizures as it could possibly inhibit central nervous system enzyme activity. Thankfully some people have returned to using old holistic methods to prevent mosquito and other insect bites. In general, I hope we slow down before we hurt ourselves.

220px-Gelege1It is true mosquitoes cause harm to human beings. Mosquitoes are known to be the most dangerous animal in the world for its ability to spread viral and parasitic disease.  As highlighted in several research studies the mosquito is one of the reasons early colonization of the Americas was not possible. Several populations of would be colonizers in the thousands stepped off boats from Europe but only small numbers in the tens survived because the would be colonizers came in contact with mosquitoes carrying diseases they were new to such as malaria. Sadly for this same reason, slavery became a major institution as Africans were not new to malaria and could survive in areas where malaria spreading mosquitoes existed.

220px-Aedes_aegypti_larvaDay after day many of the 3500 species under the name mosquito meet in the same place to perform mating rituals. The males live for a week while the female’s life span is one to two weeks in the wild or several months dependent on ambient temperatures, predators, and habitat controls. In extremely cold climates, mosquitoes spend part of the year in diapause. This means until thawed their life is in suspension. Out of the 3500 known species, only a couple hundred are known to spread harmful diseases or even digest blood.

There is a scientific and societal debate as to whether the mosquito is a necessary species. Many are confused as to their purpose. Will the fly family clan be missed if no longer living? As of recent years, mosquitoes have been genetically modified to stop their spread of malaria and dengue fever and in some countries, genetic modification has inhibited their ability to reproduce.  I wonder if anyone asks if we are overstepping our importance by taking a creature we consider a nuisance and trying to wipe them out.

mosquitoA few more facts about mosquitoes is that their larva is aquatic and standing water is a breeding ground beside fresh and salt water bodies. Due to increased rainfall brought about by climate change, there could be an increase in populations. Mosquitoes are attracted in some cases primarily to the following people; heavy breathers, those who produce a lot of body heat, the pregnant, and especially those of the O blood type. It’s argued the spread of mosquitoes is caused by the destruction of their habitat due to deforestation. Studies suggest the cause of large dengue fever outbreaks is recent deforestation. Most of the land near what was considered colonies of the new world was swamplands and forests.

What do you think of the survival of the mosquito?

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