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Why are mosquitoes useful?

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We are all well aware of the negative impact mosquitoes have on nature. Regardless of the specific species, mosquitoes bring a lot of inconvenience to humans and worsen their quality of life. Painful bites and irritating larvae in summer cottages cause discomfort. Some types of mosquitoes are also carriers of dangerous diseases, including rotavirus. Bites from pathogenic mosquitoes weaken the human immune system, leading to itching and irritation.

Malaria mosquitoes in Africa and South America pose a particular risk for the spread of malaria, a dangerous disease that can be fatal. They can also carry the Zika virus, dengue fever and West Nile virus, causing serious illness. Although most people in Russia do not encounter malarial mosquitoes, mosquito bites pose a serious threat to the population of warm countries and tourists.

However, one should not naively believe that mosquitoes bring only harm to nature and humans. Despite our resentment of these insects, researchers and scientists tend to believe that mosquitoes do play an important role in the ecosystem and have benefited the environment and humanity.

Plans to eradicate mosquitoes

Due to the significant harm that mosquitoes cause to humans, some scientists have repeatedly proposed to sharply reduce or completely eliminate the mosquito population on Earth in the hope of solving the problem. At first glance, this approach has a peculiar justification. Female mosquitoes, feeding on human blood and laying larvae in houses, become a source of constant increase in the number of these insects. They can also carry dangerous viruses, and the scientific community has been monitoring and concerned about mosquitoes for decades as science has become clearer about how many diseases they can spread.

Previously, the symptoms of many dangerous diseases, such as malaria and West Nile fever, were often confused with the manifestations of other scientifically known diseases and were not associated with mosquito bites. Over time, more and more diseases have been associated with mosquitoes and their effects on humans. The emergence of products designed to protect against mosquitoes and destroy their larvae was the answer to this problem. Repellents, fumigators and odor sprays containing mosquito repellents have been developed to make life easier for people and reduce the risk of being bitten by these dangerous insects that prefer damp conditions.

Scientists against dangerous insects

Olivia Judson, a prominent biological scientist, proposes to destroy about 30 known species of mosquitoes with the goal of “wiping them off the face of the Earth.” This could save more than a million human lives by reducing the total number of mosquitoes by just one hundredth. This proposal seems reasonable, especially considering that sacrificing 30 species of insects could save many valuable lives in the future.

Researchers from biotechnology company Oxitec, in collaboration with professors at the University of Oxford, have genetically modified one of the most dangerous mosquito species, aedes aegypti. These modified mosquitoes were released in the Cayman Islands in 2009 and 2010. However, the modification was not the deactivation of the venom from the bites, but the inability of mosquitoes to reproduce beyond their young. Male mosquitoes, bred artificially, gave birth to weak offspring, which soon died before reaching reproduction. In fact, by introducing such males to regular females of the mosquito species, scientists effectively reduced the mosquito population, preventing the hatchlings from transmitting viruses and preventing the species' natural spread.

What has the experience with genetically modified mosquitoes shown?

As a result of this controversial and risky experiment, mosquitoes began to die en masse, leaving no offspring. A similar experiment was carried out in the region of Brazil, where the population of the corresponding mosquito species decreased by 92%. In the Cayman Islands, the reduction in mosquito numbers was 96%. These changes, although they may seem positive given the danger of this mosquito species to humans, have caused negative consequences for nature. Scientists have not taken into account how the existence of these mosquitoes in Brazil and the Cayman Islands benefits nature.

Analyzing the destructive consequences of such experiments, scientists decided to suspend their implementation and reconsider the admissibility of destroying pests on such a scale, paying attention to the benefits that their population brings. Human intervention in the natural processes of the animal world can lead to more serious negative consequences than positive ones. In this case, the decline in the mosquito population became uncontrollable and many other non-mosquito species began to become threatened, often becoming sick and dying.

In both areas where relevant experiments and studies were carried out, deterioration of the environment was noted after the extermination of pests. This has forced scientists to take a closer look at the pros and cons of being around mosquitoes in the environment, emphasizing not only the harm they bring to humanity, but also their positive impact on other species, which is important to remember.

Before we talk about the benefits of mosquitoes in nature, let's figure out why scientists decided to destroy this particular type of mosquito, how intensively the scientific community studies mosquitoes and what risks some of them pose for humans, while others are considered less dangerous.

The most dangerous types of mosquitoes for humans

There are approximately 3500 species of mosquitoes in the world, and not all of them pose a threat to humans. Most of these insects are harmless and can only cause discomfort by their presence and the presence of larvae in the secluded corners of the house. Many mosquitoes simply feed on plant nectar, like bees, and do not leave flower beds and bushes.

Research shows that male mosquitoes hardly bite people and do not transmit diseases. Their main source of nutrition is flower nectar. However, females, who make up only 6% of the total, can pose a risk by carrying viral infections such as the Zika virus or malaria. These females use human blood to lay larvae, which is a special aspect of their diet.

There are about 100 species of mosquitoes on Earth, the bites of which can lead to the development of dangerous diseases in humans. These insects are especially harmful in areas with warm, humid climates, where diseases such as malaria and the Zika virus are most likely to spread. Mosquitoes are distributed unevenly, and the most dangerous species are most often found in equatorial latitudes.

Mosquitoes prefer aquatic environments and damp areas near bodies of water, where they breed and spread their larvae. Approximately half of the world's population, about 4 billion people, are at risk of illness from the bites of female mosquitoes, which carry various viruses and cause dangerous diseases in the human body.

Among the most dangerous types of mosquitoes are:

  1. Aedes albopictus: Carrier of dengue fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever. It lives in subtropics and tropics around the world, posing a serious threat.
  2. Aedes aegypti: Known for its role in the transmission of Zika, Dengue and yellow fever viruses. It lives in the tropics and subtropics, posing a danger to human health.
  3. Anopheles gambiae: The carrier of malaria, the African malaria mosquito. It lives in damp climates in Africa and poses a serious health threat.

About a million people die every year from diseases transmitted by the bites of females of these dangerous mosquito species. The majority of cases occur in third world countries where the medical infrastructure is underdeveloped.

Although the Zika virus may only cause fever and rashes, it also has serious effects on fetal development, leading to congenital conditions such as microcephaly.

Many scientists from countries with a high risk of mosquito spread are proposing radical methods to combat these insects, including reducing their populations. However, the positive contribution of mosquitoes to the ecosystem and environment should also be considered. Let's look at this aspect in more detail.

The benefits of different types of mosquitoes for the planet

When discussing the dangers mosquitoes pose to humans, it is also important to consider the positive contributions these insects make to nature and the ecosystem. Already in the last century, scientists of the USSR Academy of Sciences spoke about the importance of preserving the mosquito population to ensure balance in the environment. Modern Western researchers such as Phip Lounibos of the University of Florida also hold a similar view. Lunibos emphasizes that the negative impact on the ecosystem caused by the destruction of mosquitoes will exceed the positive effects, which not all scientists pay attention to.

One of the important aspects of the influence of mosquitoes on nature is their role in the process of pollinating flowers. Although there are other pollinating insects, most mosquitoes feed on flower nectar rather than human blood. Without their participation in this process, balance and balance will be disrupted. However, not only plants and flowers are affected by mosquitoes. The mass extinction of these insects greatly affects the rest of the fauna, affecting its population.

The role that mosquito plays in the food chain and its importance

Let's pay attention to the importance of the food chain in the ecosystem. It is known that tearing out a certain link from this chain can lead to negative consequences for the entire system, since all animals in it are interconnected and dependent on each other. Similar attempts to eradicate other pests, parasites or predators, be it snakes or sparrows, often ended in serious disruption of the ecosystem, since they left aside the most complex and dangerous consequences of their actions due to a limited view of the problem.

Mosquitoes are an important link in the food chain, serving as food for various species of insectivorous birds and bats. Their attraction to areas of fresh water makes mosquitoes a common prey item for bats and birds, even though they consume a variety of other insects. Extermination of certain species of mosquitoes can cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem.

In addition, not only adult mosquitoes serve as food for other animals, but also their larvae. Fish and frogs feed on mosquito larvae, and many fish species in small bodies of water depend directly on this type of food. Killing mosquitoes either artificially or naturally can lead to food shortages for important fish species that play an important role in the food chain and are consumed by humans. This can start a chain reaction with unpredictable consequences.

Thus, mosquitoes, despite their some negative aspects, play an important role in maintaining biological balance by providing food for various animal species and maintaining the stability of the ecosystem.

Scientists' verdict on the possible extermination of the most dangerous mosquitoes

Thus, mosquitoes play an important role in maintaining ecological balance. They are key players in the process of flower pollination and support populations of various animal species such as birds, fish, frogs, and others. Without their participation in natural processes, many vital ecosystems may slow down or even cease, leading to negative consequences, including for humans.

Scientists are actively studying the pros and cons of the possible extermination of various types of parasitic insects. However, the scientific community has not yet reached a consensus on this issue, since the risks of negative impacts on the environment and ecosystem seem significant. The experiments with genetically modified mosquitoes mentioned earlier led to negative results and did not satisfy the researchers.

Thus, the idea of ​​decisively eradicating dangerous insects appears to be destructive and useless, since it is impossible to predict whether such a step will cause more harm or benefit to the environment as a whole.

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