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Life Without Mosquitos With summer gone, I miss the longer days, but I don't miss the mosquitoes! Because here in Galveston, Texas, they are a nuisance!

Did you know there are at least thirty-five hundred species of mosquitoes on the planet? Even though just a couple hundred species actually bother us, they pose a major health threat by transmitting diseases such as yellow fever, West Nile encephalitis, and malaria.

Malaria alone kills nearly one million people every year. That's about one person a second! Come to think of it - we'd be better off if mosquitoes were wiped from the planet.

Whoa Norbert! Hate them, yeah, but consider the consequences! Mosquitoes have evolved over millions of years to fill their niche in the ecosystem. Eradicating them could harm other organisms and the environment.

For example, mosquitoes pollinate certain plants. They're also a food source for many birds, fish, bats, and even other insects.

Maybe so Dave, but evidence suggests mosquitoes do not compose a large part of many organisms' diets, so those animals would just find other insects to eat. That's actually not the case in places like northern Canada and Russia, where mosquitoes form huge swarms in the spring. They may be essential to the survival of arctic creatures recuperating from the long winters.

I guess the point is, this is a complex issue. Consider that mosquitoes transmit diseases to birds. If we eliminate mosquitoes, could some bird populations balloon uncontrolled by disease while other bird populations shrink from lack of food?

The effect is a change in the population distribution of their predators as well as their prey… thereby possibly affecting humans.

But could the ecological impact be so great as to actually change our quality of life? There's just no way to be sure. It just shows you how connected we all are, even to a tiny mosquito.

 

For more information…

Eradicating any organism would have serious consequences for ecosystems — wouldn't it? Not when it comes to mosquitoes, finds Janet Fang.
A Nature News article that provides a nice discussion of the impact the role of mosquitoes in disease transmission and what effects their removal would have on the world's ecosystem.
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Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Extensive easy to read website that gives a comprehensive overview of mosquito transmitted human and animal diseases. "Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism — over one million people die from mosquito-borne diseases every year. Not only can mosquitoes carry diseases that afflict humans, they also transmit several diseases and parasites that dogs and horses are very susceptible to…"
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Mosquito Ecology
An easy reading website from the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program which presents information about the life cycle and ecology of this backyard pest.
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Risk analysis on the release of Aedes aegypti mosquito in the Cayman Islands
Scientific analysis by GeneWatch UK.
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Oxitec's genetically-modified mosquitoes: In the public interest?
GeneWatch UK examines the release of 3 million genetically modified male mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands by the UK biotech company Oxitec.
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