Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Way of the Dodo Bird?

It's summer and that means it's mosquito time. Ever since I was a child, I've been a magnet for mosquitoes. Don't take my word for it, ask people who walk with me. They can verify this uncanny attraction. Furthermore, whereas a mosquito bite is generally an irritating itch for most people, a mosquito bite on me swells up into a big welt. I try to limit my outdoor activities during the summer months, especially during the dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active. Nevertheless, the mosquito tends to make me a virtual prisoner in my own home. Short of wearing a beekeepers suit, I invariably get stung. Sure I can wear DEET, but the side effects (headaches) are often worse than the mosquito bite itself. Over the years, I have adapted; but I do miss out on things such as the 4th of July fireworks show the other night.

I've often wondered whether mosquitoes have any value other than causing diseases such as malaria, encephalitis, West Nile virus, etc.? Historically, mosquitoes have been a sort of population control. They have kept human, and even some animal, populations down by facilitating pestilence and death. On the positive side, mosquitoes do provide some food to fish, frogs, birds and bats. But the question remains, if there were no mosquitoes would life be better?

Most scientific research seems to indicate that if the mosquito were eliminated from the face of the earth (no easy chore), it would make little or no difference to the ecosystem. In fact, the elimination of the mosquito would improve the human condition.

So is it immoral to make a species go extinct for the benefit of mankind? I know we lack the ability to eradicate all mosquitoes, but isn't it a pleasant fantasy anyway. 


My View From Maine said...

In fact it was malaria that caused the Romans to abandon Pastum near the Almalfi Coast in Italy for 500 years which leaves us with the best preserved Roman ruins in Europe. Chalk one up for the mosquitoes!

Fernando De Leon said...

Well, at least there is one good thing they did.