Here in Florida, we have a long and terrible relationship with mosquitoes. With some pests, we can say that they may have some redeeming qualities like they eat other pests or that they are food for animals we enjoy, such as birds. But, mosquitoes have no such redeeming quality. They simply exist to feed off of your blood. Yuck!
Many Floridians think that they have a monopoly on the world’s mosquito problems but mosquitoes are all over the world and humanity has been plagued by them as far back as history can record. Recently, my friend traveled England and said that many houses there do not have air conditioners (because of the very mild climate) so they leave the windows open at night. She said she would awake to mosquitoes biting her most nights. Many people there still use mosquito nets draped over their beds.
During the building of the Panama Canal, as many as 30,000 people died. Most of them were during the earliest (French) attempt to build the canal. It is estimated under French command, as many as 22,000 people died. Most of the death was from disease. And much of that disease was yellow fever and malaria, carried by our foe the mosquito. More about the history of the canal click here
Mosquitoes have been such a problem in Africa that the human genome created a way to protect people from blood born illnesses like yellow fever and malaria. The body would create sickle-shaped blood cells so that the virus couldn’t latch on. As a result of this trait, survivability increased by as much as 60%. More about this topic here
Many of the illnesses that mosquitoes spread can be cured or treated today. But people still get very sick from mosquito born illnesses. For instance, in our last blog we discussed how West Nile Virus has shown up in 36 U.S. State this year. For the foreseeable future mosquitoes will continue to plague man and be nothing but a nuisance.