The majority of people around the world hate mosquitoes. Personally, I don’t mind them. They don’t bite me so they don’t bother me too much. Most people can’t stand the itchy bites or the annoying sound mosquitoes make.
Mosquitoes are not only annoying, they are also the most dangerous animal in the world. There are few animals that cause more deaths than mosquitoes. They spread deadly diseases and no other animal is responsible. Wouldn’t it be better for the planet if all these horrible animals disappeared?
What are mosquitoes?
Before we can answer the question, it is important to first understand what mosquitoes actually are. Actually, mosquitoes are a large family of insects. Because they are flies the adults look very different from the larvae (baby mosquitoes), which is why they are called flies. They also only have two wings as opposed to the four of bees or wasps. There are many types of biting fly. To lay eggs, all of them must take blood from animals (including humans).
Although there are many biting insects, like horseflies or tsetse flys, the most widespread and common are mosquitoes.
There are 3,500 types of mosquitoes, each with its own behavior. Some are active only at night while others are active all day. Despite what people may not realize, only female mosquitoes bite humans. They need our blood to lay eggs. To survive, male mosquitoes consume nectar, a sugary liquid made from plants.
Why mosquitoes are important.
A female mosquito can transmit certain viruses or parasitic diseases to others if she takes blood from an infected person. Only the 40-plus species of female mosquitoes are dangerous, as they can transmit diseases to people.
There are only a few mosquitoes that can be dangerous out of all the millions. These few mosquitoes can spread deadly diseases like malaria. Every year, more than 200 million people get the disease, many of them in Africa, where you and me live. More than 500,000 lives could be saved each year if the mosquitoes responsible for malaria were eradicated, with most of these children under five years old.
The world would be much more healthy if these mosquitoes that spread malaria were gone.
It might sound as though it would be better for all of us if the mosquitoes went away. However, this is not true because mosquitoes have an important function.
We call ecosystems a collection of different animals and humans. They are essential for our survival. Even mosquitoes can be part of ecosystems.
There are billions upon billions of mosquitoes. This is a lot more insects than could be eaten by another animal. We don’t know of any animal that eats only mosquitoes. However, there are many mosquitoes available and they are easy for animals to hunt. The favourite food of mosquito fish is baby mosquitoes, which live in water. Moths are also eaten by frogs, dragonflies and spiders as well as geckos, bats and other animals.
Many animals would be starved if all the mosquitoes were gone. Imagine all the rice on the planet disappearing. Rice is not the only food we eat, but many people would be starving if it disappeared tomorrow.
Although most mosquitoes bite humans, some species don’t bite. The male mosquitoes can help plants reproduce by pollinating. This allows the plants to grow and spread in new places. Although they don’t do it as well than bees, they are still important for certain plants like the Blunt leaf orchid.
Scientists believe that eliminating every mosquito from the earth wouldn’t have any negative impact on the environment. We don’t know what will happen to small ecosystems or if they would be better without them.
We also have to be aware that mosquitoes can be replaced by other biting insects, such as another one that could cause more diseases or bites more severely.
Good news is that scientists around the globe are working hard to find ways to control dangerous mosquitoes. While we may not be able to eradicate all mosquitoes, we can protect our health from those that transmit disease and cause illness.