It is the female mosquito that will annoyingly hum around your ears at night. It is the only song she knows and she does it so that male mosquitoes-who do not hum, just listen so they can locate her. And of course it is the female that causes us to continually slap our own faces on warm summer evenings, especially when the air is muggy, ideally between 15°C (59°F) and 30°C (86°F). She needs to gorge herself with nutrients found in the blood of vertebrates (birds, amphibians, us and other mammals) to be able to bring her eggs to maturation.
To prevent the blood from clotting in the process she injects an anticoagulant substance via her saliva. It is this substance that causes an allergic reaction that leads to those ungracious itchy lumps on your forehead, arms and legs as well as other unmentionable places. And in this way she transmits disease.
So What Are Mosquitoes For Then?
1. A Regulator. It is precisely her ability to spread disease that makes her capital to nature’s self-regulating system. She plays a major part in reducing the populations of many species, especially that single most prolific one of them all. I mean, man, of course. In fact, Centers for Disease Control estimate that mosquito-borne diseases kill something like 2 million people a year, which is very sad for those who fall victim to them but there are ways of reducing their presence and so people’s exposure to disease.
2. A Gatekeeper. Right up till the last century mosquitoes were part of nature’s defense strategy against human aggression. For thousands of years they successfully acted as a deterrent from invasion of tropical areas like the Amazonian forest where their presence kept human intrusion and destruction at bay. They were the gatekeepers of sacred lands. Then man invented pesticides and in doing so has become guilty of gradually destroying the medicine cabinet of future generations, and perhaps sowing the seeds of his own extinction.
4. A Pollinator. Between bloodthirsty forays females will do as males do and settle on a flower and sup up sap and nectar, their staple diet. This of course helps towards pollination.
Would Life Be Better Without Mosquitoes?
True, mosquitoes create discomfort and transmit disease, but let’s be fair, though they rank high on the world’s mass killer list, they are certainly no more harmful to people or to the environment than humans themselves. In fact modern man is the most destructive single living species on earth. Life without mosquitoes might be something we all wish for sometimes, but if we got rid of them to the point of extinction then the world might well become a hungrier, more ravaged, and less flowered place.
What’s your take on this? Drop me a line in the comment box.
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