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A world without mosquitoes would have no malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever or parasitic bot flies. But aside form spreading disease and driving humans crazy with their itchy, little bites, would things be any different without them? Maybe not. Scientists have projected that if they were to disappear off the face of the Earth tomorrow, everything would look pretty much the same (except that as many as 200 million people worldwide wouldn't contract malaria and we could travel to hotter climes without fear of being eaten alive by the winged pests).
There are 3,500 species of mosquito on every continent and in every habitat around the world. What role do they play in the ecosystems they live in? Mosquitoes drink flower nectar, causing pollination (like bees). In the Arctic, mosquito swarms get so thick, they darken the sky; some researchers say this plays an essential role in directing migrating birds north. They also serve as food for bats, birds, fish, and a number of other animals (including other mosquitoes). According to a study conducted by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the population of some tundra birds could drop by as much as 50 percent if mosquitoes were to disappear.
Despite this, scientists in North America and Africa are trying to wipe mosquitos off the planet through a number of techniques, including killing off female mosquitoes and using various pesticides and insecticides. Should be we trying to rid the world of mosquitoes? Maybe inhibiting their ability to spread diseases would be a better strategy? Let us know your thoughts about mosquito control in the comment section below.
A World Without Mosquitoes (Cornell.edu)
"In my opinion, mosquitoes are honestly the most vile and useless species on Earth. Their ability to spread disease, cause death, and change any species' life is detrimental and questionable. But given that every aspect and particle of nature has a purpose and plays a role, how important are mosquitoes?"
Insecticide-Treated Nets May Create Super Mosquitoes (Smithsonian)
"Two species of mosquitos have interbred, giving rise to hybrids that can resist the most potent weapons used against them."
A Mosquito Solution (More Mosquitoes) Raises Heat in Florida Keys (NY Times)
"If the federal Food and Drug Administration gives the go-ahead for the trial, Key Haven, with 444 houses built on a tiny peninsula, would become the focal point of the first American release of several million mosquitoes genetically altered by Oxitec, a British biotechnology company."
Malaria Fact Sheet