Top Story: July 26, 2010

Mosquito Eradication

mosquito

This time of year, sitting from our lovely perch in the cold and dreary fog, we dream of summer, and know it’s out there somewhere. But what’s one thing we don’t miss about this season of supposed sunshine and warm weather? Mosquitoes.

And it seems we’re not alone. In the prestigious journal Nature last week, reporter Janet Fang argues that if mosquitoes were removed from the global ecosystem, they wouldn’t be missed. But what about biodiversity, you say?

Well, first of all, Fang says, mosquitoes cause a lot of problems:

Malaria infects some 247 million people worldwide each year, and kills nearly one million. Mosquitoes cause a huge further medical and financial burden by spreading yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya virus and West Nile virus. Then there's the pest factor: they form swarms thick enough to asphyxiate caribou in Alaska and now, as their numbers reach a seasonal peak, their proboscises are plunged into human flesh across the Northern Hemisphere.

3,500 species of mosquitoes occupy almost every continent.  And interestingly, all the bloodsuckers from the several hundred species that feed on humans are female. Writer Sonia Shah, explained why on Fresh Air last week:

The itchy bites that we get are from the female mosquito trying to suck our blood, and the reason they are taking blood is, not for food for themselves, but to nourish their eggs.

Fish, reptiles, birds and bats feed on mosquitoes, but after speaking with scientists, Fang discovered that other insects could probably replace the mosquitoes in these creatures’ diets:

“If you’re expending energy,” says medical entomologist Janet McAllister of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fort Collins, Colorado, “are you going to eat the 22-ounce filet-mignon moth or the 6-ounce hamburger mosquito?”

With many options on the menu, it seems that most insect-eaters would not go hungry in a mosquito-free world.

Pollinating and decomposing plant matter are vital occupations of mosquitoes, and some plant species could be affected. But overall, Fang states that:

The romantic notion of every creature having a vital place in nature may not be enough to plead the mosquito’s case. It is the limitations of mosquito-killing methods, not the limitations of intent, that make a world without mosquitoes unlikely.

And so, while humans inadvertently drive beneficial species, from tuna to corals, to the edge of extinction, their best efforts can’t seriously threaten an insect with few redeeming features. “They don’t occupy an unassailable niche in the environment,” says entomologist Joe Conlon, of the American Mosquito Control Association in Jacksonville, Florida. “If we eradicated them tomorrow, the ecosystems where they are active will hiccup and then get on with life. Something better or worse would take over.”

In the meantime, according to the New York Times, we’ll continue to hear the background music of “Whine-slap. Whine-slap.”

comments

  • B G

    How can we even talk about getting rid of a species that have been here for over 100 million years?? Who knows how many hundreds of thousands of amphibians, insects etc. that depend on them for food??? This idea is scary to even consider. We cannot do this to the ecosystem. WE'VE DONE ENOUGH

  • Pvkmed

    MOSQUITO MENACE
     

    The
    world wide, the menace of mosquito is causing lot of concerns. That the
    mosquito bite  causes Malaria, Filaria, ChikunGunia, viral fevers is
    not unknown, but it also leaves sleepless.Though a number of remedial
    measures have come up, the alarming  ill effects of mosquito does not
    seem to leave us. The oinments, creams, mats, coils and other electrical
    devices also seem to be ineffective.  Fortunately one  remedy is at
    last available which is sure to protect us from mosquito bite.  Yes, it
    is a  pesticide formulation, tested and certified by  number of
    institutions of National and International importance.

     

    M/S
    Bacto Power India Private Limited have formulated and are manufacturing
    Bacilius ThuringiensisVAR  Israelnsis 5%  AS-CIR-698/2007(278) Bacillus
    Thuringiensis (AS) -17 which has been found by VECTOR CONTROL RESEARCH
    CENTRE to be   i) a native one, ii) its efficacy has been confirmed by
    sevaral organizations,  iii) This is the only strain that has been out
    to tests in several geographic locations unlike the ones marketed by
    other commercial firms and iv) to be more sure, this is the only native 
    strain being produced , formulated  and marketed anywhere in India.

     

     Bacto
    Power.Bti, an Organic and Eco friendly Mosquito Bio Larvicide, The
    technology used is approved and tested by World Health Organisation
    (WHO).

    The product offers Total solutions to mosquito problems.

    It is 100% organic & free from toxic chemicalsContains the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis variety israelensisSelectively kills mosquito larvae and non toxic to people; peets and wild life.

    Ensures total protection against diseases -  Malaria , Dengue. Chikungunia etc,Registered with Government of India Central insecticide Board (CIR 698/ (278) – Bti

    Bacto Power .Bti contains the bactenium. Bacillus thuringiensis variety isralensis.

    Bti
    (Bacillus thuringiensis variety isralensis) is a bacterial toxin that
    infects and kills mosquito larvae. It is safe and environmentally sound
    because it is highly selective, killing larvae of the mosquitoes and
    black flies. Bti contains no poisonous chemicals and is completely
    harmless to human beings and other living organisms.

    Compared
    to harmful synthetic insecticides, Bei kills larvae quickly and
    efficiently  A moderate to heavy dose will result in reducing the
    mosquito by one half in 15 miniutes time and the rest with in one hour.

    The
    specific activity of Bti generally is considered highly beneficail.
    Unlike insecticides Bti do not kill beneficial insects, This includes
    the natural enemies of insects (predators abd parasites) as well as
    beneficial pollinators such as honeybees.

    The
    Bacto Power.Bti can be applied for vector control programmes such as
    Agricultural University, Amusement Parks, Auditorium, Plantation
    Estates, Hospital, Hostel, cottage, Marriage Halls, Schools, Seminary,
    Popnds, Comfort stations, Bus stations, Railway Stations,

    Housing complexes, Residential Areas, Mass Religious Places etc.

    Various
    Universities & Research Institutes around the world have carried
    out extensive research and proved that Bti is an ultimate biological
    technology to control mosquitoes.

     

    Oregon State UniversityUniversity of IdahoUniversity of CaliforniaMichigan State UniversityPasteur InstituteIndian Council of Medical Research

    National Institute of communicable DiseasesMalaria Research Centre. 

     

    If you have trade enquiries / desire to be a dealer / market in your region you are welcome to contact us:

    pvkmed@gmail.com

  • Isabella0070

    Thank you so much for sharing such an important issue! I'd like to share some tips to consider when trying to avoid mosquito bites:

    1.Empty water from containers
    such as flower pots, birdbaths, pet water dishes, cans, gutters, tires and
    buckets regularly to disrupt the mosquito breeding cycle. 2.Keep windows and door screens
    in good working order to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home. 3.If possible, wear
    long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors, consider staying
    indoors early in the morning and evening when mosquitoes are most active. 4.Maintain your swimming pool
    to prevent mosquito breeding, and report abandoned pools to your local
    health department. 5.Use mosquito netting over
    infants carriers when infants are outdoors. 6.Consider using an insect
    repellent, be sure to follow the label directions for applying the
    repellent. For help selecting a mosquito repellent, try our Insect
    Repellent Locator. Let's be aware to avoid malaria.. ~ISABELLA:)

  • Thecritic89

    I'm not sure what all we've done so far with regards to the ecosystem. However, the current research I'm doing is evaluating the effects of mosquito eradication and control methods on ecosystem processes. I've not finished, but I've got to say: it currently appears that the thousands of predators that mosquitoes have are all opportunistic. None of them seem to depend on mosquitoes. Though, the study hasn't yet progressed to the point where we're studying the effects on prey or host populations to mosquitoes, I'm anticipating similar results. I'll let you know how it goes. Please, though, don't go around making statements like this. 1. There aren't hundreds of thousands of species of amphibians or any other animal besides possibly insects. With that, most insects very capably fill the realized niche of a missing species once that species is extinct. Life goes on.

  • Hawaiianlegend1997

    Hi Dr. kapun i am in the mosquitoes project at Whea  

  • Hawaiianlegend1997

    Hi Dr. Kapun I am in the mosgito project at whea and i am wondering where are your articles on the mosquitoes 

  • Shon Williams

    The world Ecosystem would not crash without them. There are places with very few misquitos that have vibrate animal and plant life. Eradicate the pest and make the outdoors more comfortable for everyone including mammals. I can’t stand people always using fear and scare of the doomed planet without Mosquitos. Whatever! Sterilize them and make the pest disappear.

  • Robert L.Dow

    Why not work on eradicating the MALES? If so, problem solved.

  • Pingback: Does keeping the mosquito in its place in the ecosystem far outweigh the value of saving human lives? - Home. Garden. Pets. @ CASA Veneracion

  • Pingback: Genocide: Only for Mosquitoes | writerreese

  • Pingback: Selfish but impressive little bloodsucker – the mosquito | simplyilka

  • matt227

    There are 3500 species of mosquitoes.

Previous Top Stories

 

About Science Today

Science Today is the California Academy of Sciences’ channel for current stories on cutting-edge technologies, life, Earth, space and sustainability. Content is produced in-house and is distributed throughout the museum, on the internet and through various partners. Please share your comments on what you find important in the changing world of science.